Sydney Emden Medal, consisting of an original circulated 1892 Mexican 8 Reales coin with a suspension attached for wearing, engraved by W. Kerr of Sydney.
An original 1892 “Mex” 8 Reales Silver Dollar, milled rim, with attached Decorative Suspension reading: “Nov 9 1914 HMAS SYDNEY – SMS EDMEN”, the reverse of the suspension inscribed by the maker: “W. KERR SYDNEY”.
The Coin used for this piece, is an attractive original 8 Reales Silver Coin from Mexico, dated 1892. The coin bears the mintmark Zs of the “Casa de Mondea de Zatatecas”, one of Mexico’s 14 Mints, it was the most prolific of the Mexican Mints, active from 1810 to 1905.
The coin itself, has clearly been in circulation as trade bullion, the “Mexican Eagle” 8 Reales coin was a particular favourite around Asia and especially in China, where it was commonly employed by the German Colony in China who chose the Mexican Silver Dollars as their choice of currency to trade with the Chinese.
There are various old “Chinese Chopmarks” and trade stampings on the coin.
Due to the difference in currencies when trading around China, the Deutsche-Asiatische Bank in China had to employ some more unusual methods of trade, the “Mex” as it was called was a good piece of bullion as well as an attractive striking.
The 3 Principle units of trade in China were the German Custom’s “Tael” an ingot of 38.24 grams, the “Shanghai Tael”, a horseshoe shape ingot known in Chinese as the “Sycee” which was 36.64 grams and the “Mex” Mexican Silver Dolllar of 26.69 grams.
When the SMS Emden was famously sunk, it had been on a Chinese Trip and was carrying many of these “Mex’ Dollars.
About 6,429 Mexican 8 Reales Silver Dollars were recovered from the captured SMS Emden, about 1,000 were used to create the Sydney Emden medals to be awarded to the crew of HMAS Sydney.
This interesting and very rare medal was awarded to the crew of Her Majesty’s Australian Ship Sydney, for their part in the Battle of Cocos on 9th November 1914, when HMAS Sydney took down the formidable German ship SMS Emden.
SMS Emden had been an Independent Raider causing a massive amount of damage in the early parts of WW1 having snook into the Bay of Bengal and bombarded Madras, in only 3 months of the war the Emden had destroyed 2 Entente Warships and sank or captured 16 British Steamers and 1 Russian Merchant Ship, totalling 70,825 Gross Register Tons. With another 4 British ships being captured and released.
Their reign of terror came to an end marking the very first Naval Victory of the war for the Royal Australian Navy, the result of the clashing of the 2 ships, amounted to the HMAS Sydney receiving 16 hits killing 3 of her crew with 13 wounded. However the bombardment on SMS Emden was overwhelming, as the Sydney expended over 670 rounds of ammunition, it claimed at least 100 hits, the Emden suffered so much damage the Captain was forced to Beach the ship at North Keeling Island, having killed 1/3 of the crew, the remaining crew were mostly captured, apart from a small party under Hellmuth von Mucke who had been watching the battle having been sent ashore on Direction Island before the battle on a mission and were forced to watch their ship sink, they managed to sneak away and sail to Constantinople.