Publish date:

Swiss Franco-Prussian War medal

I was at the ANA convention last week and didn't have time to do my blog. Did you miss me? Probably not, but I did pick up a this really neat Swiss Franco-Prussian War medal. Yes I did mean Swiss! Switzerland as we all know is a traditionally neutral country sharing a border with two larger frequently feuding countries. The Swiss also knew, as Belgium learned in 1914, that simply declaring neutrality is not enough. In 1870 when the Franco-Prussian War broke out General Hans Herzog posted 50,000 troops along Switzerland's western and northern borders to prevent any violation of Swiss neutrality. In Feb. 1871 the Swiss forces disarmed and interned 80,000 French soldiers who crossed the border seeking sanctuary from the German forces and provided them with badly needed medical care and shelter. This very impressive bronze medal was issued to commemorate those events. The obverse portrays General Herzog while the reverse features a standing Helvetia with sword at the ready. The French legend roughly translates "Swiss Neutrality, Souvenir of the Federal Army's faithful service from 16 July 1870 to 25 March 1871". I don't know if this medal was awarded to anyone or if it was simply a private purchase item. Does anyone know?