Production date
Pre 1914
See full details

Object detail

Associated with Emden. Surface in very poor condition, but appears to have an eagle within a wreath on the obverse and some central object on a radiating background on the reverse. No denomination or inscription is visible.
CH classification NUMISMATICS (COINS AND TOKENS) Mexican Coins
Production date
Pre 1914
Production place
Dia 39.5 Depth 2.5mm
Media/Materials description
History and use
This Mexican silver dollar was on board the German light cruiser SMS Emden that was sunk on 9 November 1914 off the Cocos Islands by HMAS Sydney, under the command of Captain John Glossop. On board were 6,429 Mexican silver dollars

The Emden was launched in 1908. The ship officially entered the German Navy in 1910, and was assigned to the fishing village of Tsingtao in Germany’s Chinese colony of Kiautschou. At that time, most silver dollars used in Chinese trade were of Mexican origin; this form of coinage was used to pay German soldiers and also for general trade between ports. Hence ships like the Emden carried this currency in their cash boxes or safes.

Of the 6,429 coins found aboard the Emden the vast majority, 4433, were melted down and the proceeds were used by the Royal Australian Navy Relief Fund. A further 1,000 were made into medallions by W Kerr, a jeweller from Sydney, Australia, to commemorate Australia’s first naval engagement. These were given to the officers and crew who were aboard the Sydney during the battle, as well as to the Admiralty, the planned Australian War Museum and other museums deemed appropriate, as well as staff from Cocos Island. The remaining medallions were sold to the public, along with 343 of the unmounted coins. The remaining 653 unmounted coins were distributed by the Department of the Navy.

The ship’s crew and Commanding Officer were also entitled to prize money as a reward for the successful engagement. Captain Glossop’s share was £182.4.1.

Captain Glossop donated this Mexican coin from the SMS Emden to the Queensland Museum in 1918, just three days after the signing of the Armistice.
Registration number


My shortlist


Explore other objects by colour