Medallion for the start of Brandenburg’s seafaring venture to the coast of West Africa in 1681

The medallion recalls the first efforts in Brandenburg under Elector Frederick William (1620‒1688) to strengthen overseas trading and to take part in the colonial exploitation of Africa. In September 1680, two ships set sail from Brandenburg, headed for West Africa, to the Gulf of Guinea, where a trade agreement was signed with the local African rulers on 16 March 1681. Based on this contract, the Brandenburgisch-Afrikanische Compagnie was established a year later, and the Brandenburg colony Groß Friedrichsburg was founded on 1 January 1683 along the Gold Coast in what is now Ghana.

The inscription on the medallion’s edge reads: “In 1681, the seafaring voyage to the coast of Guinea got off to a successful start”; and the circumscription on the reverse notes: “The ships are drawn here by gold, like a magnet attracting iron” (translated from Latin). Both inscriptions refer to the beginning of colonial subjugation and signify Brandenburg’s entry into the inhumane transatlantic three-way trading with gold, ivory and enslaved people.


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