TABLE MEDAL – AUSTRIA – 1912 – FLYING CLUB. This is a large-format table medal dated 1912 from an Austrian flying club. The Wright Brothers made their first successful airplane flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903, just nine years prior! Flying was still in its infancy and WW I was still two years in the future when the table medal was struck. Yet many prominent German and Austrian aviators already had laid the groundwork for how airplanes would revolutionize modern warfare. Soon, airplanes and other such technological breakthroughs as machine guns, superior long-range artillery cannons and tanks would catapult mechanized warfare to unthinkable new levels of destruction.
The table medal is quite large and measures 0.5 × 4.1cm (3/16″ × 1 “). Its obverse depicts a winged female Spirit of Flight soaring over the countryside. The legend “K.(aiserlich)K.(öniglich) Österr.(eich)” (i.e., Imperial Austrian) appears to the left of the Spirit, while “Aero Club” is to the right. A plaque beneath her reads “Wien, Juni 1912” (Vienna, June 1912). The word “Bronze” is inscribed on the medal’s edge. The medal’s reverse gazes down on a pilot and his passenger in an Enrich Taube (very similar to the German Army’s Rumpler Taube monoplane) flying over a cityscape boasting a cathedral (complete with steeples) in its center. An identical example of this medal is on display in Washington, DC’s Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
Early aviation pieces like this are difficult-to-find, since they were produced in limited quantities.