mandag 16. februar 2015

A kingdom, a kingdom, a kingdom for my lion!

The medal in question: The rambant lion with crown was to much like the Norwegian coat of arms. But is it really a Norwegian lion? Photo from the sales campaign.
 So this is the case: The Norwegian Mint has produced a medal with a standing lion, or to speak heraldically (or something like that); a rampant lion. The medal was produced for a private Norwegian company, Samlerhuset AS, who has sold a lot of medals with similar lions. As the more geeky friends of mine know, the Norwegian coat of arms is a rampant lion with crown and axe. The lion got the axe because Olav the Holy was supposedly killed with an axe during the battle of Stiklestad in the year 1030. Olav the Holy is a saint and the perpetual king of Norway - and still is today.

The important thing is: The Norwegian coat of arms has a lion, with crown and axe. The axe makes the lion a symbol of something Norwegian in the world of heraldics (we don't kill our kings on a regular basis, but it happened in 1030).

Rampant lion with crown, but without axe: Coat of arms of Hessen.
So, The Norwegian Mint has always produced coinage with the official rampant lion. And back in the days it also produced a lot of medals - official and private - sporting the Norwegian lion with an axe (and they sometimes do today, when the medal or coin has official sanction.)

A few years ago the Norwegian foreign office crashed the party, and declared that only officially sanctioned coinage and medals could have the Norwegian coat of arms struck into them. This was of course sad, but the Norwegian government have the right to do this. Who else owns the copyright of the emblem than the Norwegian state itself, and a nation don't want to officially emboss every medal issue made for the norwegian consumer market.

This fact has then resulted in a lot of different medals, minted at The Norwegian Mint, with different rampant lions. Many of these medals was made for Samlerhuset AS - a company that has sold a lot of medals with big price tags. The last issue was however a medal they give away for free (or you just pay the postage).

The medal was issued to commemorate the merchant sailors during WW2. They are well respected and many of them are decorated for bravery. And they deserve every medal they got. The problem was that this new medal had a image of a rampant lion with crown. But not the Norwegian one - as everybody expects, but a lion from another kingdom. Or company.

Rampant lion without crown and axe: The trademark of Peugeot.
The Norwegian foreign office called and said it was use of the Norwegian coat of arms without their consent. Samlerhuset first said that the lion was not Norwegian since it didn't had a axe, and the crown was just any random crown. But later they said they never again would use a lion with a crown placed on a shield. And no vertical stripes in the background as they could be understood as the color red like the one we find in the Norwegian coat of arms. But they said they will use a lion with a sword in place of a lion with an ax.

And as many of my geeky friends know: A rampant lion with a sword is the coat of arms for Finland. That lion is also crowned.

Soon to be found on norwegian medals? Rampant lion with crown and sword: Coat of arms of Finland.
So ... I wonder, who  is actually impressed on the medals from The Norwegian Mint and Samlerhuset: The lion without a crown and axe is the trademark of Peugeot. Or the coat of arms of Scotland. The lion without axe, but with crown is the coat of arms of Hessen. The lion with crown and sword is the coat of arms of Finland. And; who has a rampant lion with sword, but no crown: It must be somebody.

In the end: Would it not be simpler if the Norwegian government by the foreign office just sanctioned the medal? It surely must be better to honor the brave merchant sailors of WW2 with a medal that is impressed with a lion with some connection to the country they served: Norway. It's getting embarrasing. The sailors deserve the best - the original Norwegian lion, not a substitute.