GERMANY / AUSTRIA / SWITZERLAND / ROMANIA / NETHERLANDS – CASED MEDAL – Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen – CREDIT UNIONS
This cased medal honors Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen, who founded Germany’s first rural credit union in 1864. Born in 1818, Raiffeisen was the mayor of several towns. He served in Weyerbusch/Westerwald from 1845 to 1848, in Flammersfeld/Westerwald from 1848 to 1852, and Heddesdorf from 1852 until late 1865. He had to retire from public office in 1867 due to ill health. He died in 1888. As a young mayor in Flammersfeld, Raiffeisen observed local farmers suffering from the predation of loan sharks. He founded the first cooperative lending bank in 1864, which was, essentially, a rural credit union. A number of banks in existence today are named after him. They operate in Germany Austria, Switzerland, Romania, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.
The brass-toned, circular medal features Raiffeisen’s high-relief portrait on its obverse. The reverse features the words “Für Treue Arbeit” (For Faithful Participation/Assistance), surrounded by an oak leaf wreath. The wreath is further encircled by twinkling stars. The medal has an attachment by which one could insert it for display in a suit’s buttonhole. The medal comes with a black leatherette presentation case. The case has the standard white silk upper lid, and a blue velvet base with a cutout area to accommodate the medal. It is an interesting historical item.