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Crossed Oars

Back in the early 1970’s when I was living in Central Illinois there were gun shows almost every weekend. It was a great time for prowling and collecting. At one of these shows my heart skipped a beat when I first laid eyes on the piece shown below and wishfully concluded that this could be an Imperial German Marines item. They did have similar looking insignia but the “EMS” on the eagle’s shield was a mystery. The style of German eagle would date this piece at 1888 or earlier. The oars should have been a major clue but one only sees what they want to see. Eventually while going through a German coin auction catalog I saw some German rowing club medals and all had crossed oars. So this had to be a club badge too and that made it easy to see that the mysterious “EMS” on the shield was the name of a river. This is a badge of the Ems Rowing Club which was most likely based in the resort city of Bad Ems of Franco-Prussian War fame. By the way, the ribbon does not belong with this medal, I put it there to keep the loop from damaging the badge. Even though it is not military it is a spectacular looking medal and a reminder to avoid premature conclusions.