I Gave Gold for Iron

Picture of iron ring on red cloth
This ring inscribed "Gold gab ich für Eisen", 1914, ("I gave gold for iron"), was one of the first pieces brought by contributors to the first public participation day in Frankfurt. The contributor was Brigitte Bieche.

Whilst this particular ring is a fascinating piece of social history and unique to one woman, and one family, it also represents part of an officially sponsored programme of fund raising for the German war effort. Similar drives were also made in various parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Patriotic citizens handed in valuable jewellery, and instead took to wearing base metals. Interestingly this revived an idea used in the Wars of Liberation, when, as long ago as 1813, the Prussian Royal family had appealed to their womenfolk to make similar donations. Iron jewellery, hitherto used mainly as a symbol of mourning, then acquired a new status.
(Text by Dr. Stephen Bull)

More items from the Frankfurt public participation day can be found by searching the online Europeana 1914-1918 archive.

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