Doctorate of Gerrit van der Wal

(Unknown maker, 1940, cast, pewter, 53 mm, NEPK2402)

About a year ago NEPK acquired as a gift a somewhat worn looking, one-sided pewter medal. It obviously was not produced by one of the well-known medal producing firms. On the other hand, the powerful head with winged helmet (Mercury; symbol of trade and economics) could hardly have been modelled by a unschooled beginner. But what is the meaning of the cow’s head, the three portraits (coins?, medals?) and the letter “V.”, most likely the mark of the maker?

The medal was made to commemorate the doctorate ceremony at the University of Amsterdam of the economist Gerrit van der Wal. The title of his dissertation was “Rekeneenheid en Ruilmiddel” (Unit of counting and Means of exchange”) and the date was July 12, 1940, two months into the German occupation. At that time the universities still functioned normally and restrictions on the use of metals had not yet been imposed. Perhaps the medal was made later, after imposing of such restrictions? Or was its maker an artist-friend, who selected pewter for this very personal present, since pewter can be cast easily at lower temperatures?  Perhaps one day this will be clarified, just as the meaning of the bovine head, the three portraits and the signature “V.”.

Van der Wal worked in top positions at various large Dutch companies and organisations. He retired as president of KLM. For further details on his career, see the description of the medal in the database.

For the medal shown, click:

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