Marksmanship medal

German (Dresden)
dated 1537

Object Place: Dresden, Germany


Diameter and weight: 127 mm (5 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Silver, partially gilded

Not On View





Circular markmanship medal as a pendant with a leaf-ornamented frame (obverse: has mask at top) that has attached three loops for fastening (one at top and one at each side).

Obverse: Relief design of man in doublet and hose at proper right, sighting through gun pointing over head of cherub that rises above armorial shield of Dresden at proper left held up by a putto; foliate background. The vertical stripes and lion on the heraldic shield are parcel gilt.

Reverse: Engraved gnomes and flowers above, cherub and flowers below; inscribed at center “MIT:WISEN:VND:WILEN:EINS/ERBARN:RAT:VND:DER:GEM/ENEN:BRVDERSCHAFT:DER:BVCHSEN:SCHVUC3EN:3V:DR/ESD [ellision above]:HAT:WOLF:SPRVNG:VN [ellision above]:/MELCHER:D[“R” inside “O”]ST:DAS:KLEN/OT:MACHEN:LASN [ellision above]:1537”.

Many German cities and towns had shooting clubs, first established in medieval times for defense and later for recreational sport.


Reverse: Inscribed at center "MIT:WISEN:VND:WILEN:EINS/ERBARN:RAT:VND:DER:GEM/ENEN:BRVDERSCHAFT:DER:BVCHSEN:SCHVUC3EN:3V:DR/ESD [ellision above]:HAT:WOLF:SPRVNG:VN [ellision above]:/MELCHER:D["R" inside "O"]ST:DAS:KLEN/OT:MACHEN:LASN [ellision above]:1537"

With knowledge and intent of an
honorable advisor and the
Common Brotherhood of Marksmen at
Dresden Wolfgang Sprung and
Melchior Dorst had this object made 1537


1948, sold by Blumka Gallery, New York, to the MFA for $450. (Accession Date: November 18, 1948)

NOTE: At the time the medal was acquired, it was said to come from the collection of Prince Ratibor in Austria. This collecting history has, however, not been verified.

The Dresden Shooting Club possessed a parcel-gilt silver medal of identical design, with two medallions appended by small rings on either side. The Shooting Club sold its medal to Nathaniel von Rothschild of Vienna in 1878 (the present location of this medal is unknown; it was sold with other objects from the Rothschild collection, Christie’s, London, July 8, 1999). At the time of the 1878 sale a copy was made, and a third medallion was added to the copy. The treasury of the Shooting Club—including the new, electroplated medal with a third medallion—was incorporated into the collection of the City Museum Dresden in 1891. At the end of World War II the medal, along with more than 80 percent of the City Museum’s collection, was lost following the bombing of Dresden in 1945 and the subsequent occupation by Soviet forces.

The MFA has conducted extensive scientific testing to determine whether its medal could be identical to the one lost by the City Museum Dresden. The MFA object was probably made using the lost-wax casting technique, rather than electroplate; the small rings on either side were cast as part of the medal. Even after examination under a scanning electron microscope, no clear indication could be found that a third ring had ever been attached. It could not be determined whether the medal dates to the 16th century or the 19th century. The MFA has shared the results of its research, which was ultimately inconclusive, with the curatorial staff of the City Museum Dresden.

Credit Line

Frederick Brown Fund