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DonnaML's Top 12 French Coins and Medals for 2023


DonnaML

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I have divided the descriptions and photos of these dozen acquisitions into four categories: coins (one), art medals (one), Napoleonic medals (five), and uniface Napoleonic medallions by Bertrand Andrieu (five). Within the last two categories, items are ordered chronologically. 

Four of the 12 are new writeups not previously posted, and are marked as such.

As always, any and all comments are welcome.

Gold Coin:

I purchased no ancient gold in 2023 -- only this coin and the Charles III half-sovereign I included in my previous post. 

1.  France, Second Empire, Napoleon III, AV (.900 fineness), 10 Francs, 1860 BB (Strasbourg Mint). Obv. Bare head of Napoleon III right, NAPOLEON III – EMPEREUR around, BARRE beneath [engraver Jean Jacques Barre], flanked by privy marks of bee to left [mark of Alfred Renouard de Bussière, Mint Master, Strasbourg (1834-1860)] and anchor to right [mark of Désiré-Albert Barre, General coin engraver, Paris (1855-1878), son of Jean Jacques Barre] / Rev. 10 | FRANCS |1860 in three lines, within a wreath made of two laurel branches linked at their base by a ribbon, EMPIRE FRANÇAIS around, BB [mint mark for Strasbourg] beneath wreath. KM (Krause-Mishler) 784.4 [see George S. Cuhaj & Thomas Michael, Standard Catalog of World Gold Coins (6th ed. 2009), at p. 408]; F. 506/11 [Le Franc Poche, Guide des Prix des Monnaies Françaises (13th ed. 2022)]. 19 mm., 3.2 g.  Purchased from Ingemar Wallin Mynthandel, Uppsala, Sweden, 18 Sep 2023.

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Art Medal:

2. France 1924, Nike, Goddess of Olympic Victory, AE Art Deco medal by Paul-Marcel Dammann (1885-1939). Obv. Head of Nike right, wing and olive sprig in hair, small olive sprig below, NI – KE across fields / Rev. Nude ancient Greek Olympic winner standing right and holding statuette of Nike (Victory) with arms raised, ancient Olympia in background; in exergue, P.M. DAMMANN. Edge: BRONZE with triangle (signifying striking at private mint; see https://blog.cgb.fr/une-semaine-une-medaille--n-19-,9151.html ). 100 mm., 429 g. Commemorates 1924 Paris Olympic Games (VIIIe Olympiad). Purchased 21 May, 2023 from ebay seller rare696-q (Kaimar Kuusik, Harjumaa, Estonia).*

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On a shelf with my three other Dammann medals:

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Not in any catalog I’ve found. One example on ACSearch, sold for 580 GBP at Baldwin’s Auction 93, 5 May 2015, Lot 648, characterized as “Rare.” Examples exist adapted for Olympic games with the addition of a rugby ball, javelin, bow and arrow, club, and discus around edge of obverse; see specimen sold at  Ingrid O'Neil Mail Bid Auction No. 74, Olympic Games Memorabilia 1896-2014, 4 Oct. 2014, Lot 19 (photo at http://ioneil.com/site/auction/a74/a74_all_color.pdf at p. 8).

Napoleonic Medals:

3. NEW.  France, Directorate, AE Conquest of Lower Egypt, An VII (1798), Napoleon Bonaparte as Général de l'armée d'Orient (struck 1810 after Napoleon’s coronation as Emperor)*, Paris Mint. Artist: N.G.A. [Nicolas Guy Antoine] Brenet, under director Dominique Vivant, Baron Denon. Obv. River god Nile reclining to his left, holding sheaf of grain in his right hand, his left arm supported on sphinx (modeled after Great Sphinx, with lion’s body, front paws resting on exergue line, and head of pharaoh wearing royal headdress [Nemes]); beside Nile’s left shoulder, a cornucopiae with grapes; playing around and upon Nile, seven children or putti, including one standing before Nile’s left knee with his arm in mouth of small crocodile**; in exergue in three lines, CONQUÊTE DE LA | BASSE ÉGYPTE | AN VII; above exergue line to left, signed BRENET / Rev. View of the three pyramids of Giza, with Great Pyramid in foreground, missing capstone, second pyramid behind with casing on top intact, and third pyramid in background; in exergue in two lines, DENON DIR. G. [général] DU | MUSÉE C. D. [central des] ARTS; in two further lines beneath, _________ | BRENET.  David Thomason Alexander, A Napoleonic Medal Primer (2022), No. 14 (p. 40; ill. p. 41) (available at https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/book/618630); Hennin 850 at pp. 594-595 [Michel Hennin, Histoire numismatique de la révolution française . . . depuis l'ouverture des Etats-généraux jusqu'à l'établissement du gouvernement consulaire (Paris 1826)] (7 children); Todd pp. 78-79 (obv. ill. p. 53, rev. ill. p. 81) [Richard A. Todd, Napoleon’s Medals: Victory to the Arts (The History Press, UK, 2009)]; Zeitz 8 p. 48 (ill. p. 49) [Lisa & Joachim Zeitz, Napoleons Medaillen (Petersberg Imhof 2003)]; Julius 628 p. 39 [Sammlung Dr. [Paul] Julius, Heidelberg: Französische Revolution Napoleon I. und seine Zeit : Medaillen, Orden und Ehrenzeichen, Münzen (Auktion 11 Jan. 1932, Otto Helbing Nachf., München, Auktions-Katalog 66), available at Newman Numismatic Portal (this sale did not take place; the Julius Collection was not sold until 1959)]; Trésor Numismatique Vol. 13, 68.6 p. 89, ill. Planche LXVIII No. 6 [Paul Delaroche, Henriquel Dupont & Charles Lenormant, eds., Trésor de numismatique et de glyptique Fol. 13, Médailles de la Révolution Française, 5 Mai 1789 - 18 Mai 1804 (1836), available at gallica.bnf.fr] (7 children); Laskey VIII pp. 17-18 [Capt. J.C. Laskey, A Description of the Series of Medals Struck at the National Medal Mint by Order of Napoleon Bonaparte (London 1818)] (7 children); Millin & Millingen 18 p. 8 (ill. Pl. VI) [Aubin Louis Millin de Grandmaison & James Millingen, Medallic History of Napoleon (London 1819)]. 33.08 mm., 13.73 g.  Purchased from nker [Fritz Rudolf Künker GmbH & Co. KG, Osnabrück, Germany] eLive Auction 77, 17-19 Apr. 2023, Lot 2786 (from Collection of Siegfried von Schuckmann); ex Künker eLive Auction 46, July 2017, Lot 447; ex Leipziger Münzhandlung Auktion 60, Leipzig 16 May 2008, Lot 867 (Sammlung Hans-O. Finn).   

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*See Todd p. 53, pointing out that although this medal was dated 1798 (to commemorate Napoleon’s defeat of the Mamelukes in the Battle of the Pyramids on 22 July 1798 [4 Thermidor An VII]), the medal was “not struck until 1810.” See also id. p. 81; Zeitz p. 48. (It could not possibly have been struck contemporaneously in 1798, given the presence of the DENON DIR[EXIT] in the reverse exergue: Denon was appointed Director of Museums only in November 1802, and of the Monnaie des Médailles (the Paris Mint) only in September 1803; see id. p. 15.) As the author further explains at pp. 78-79 of his book, the Egyptian Campaign “produced no immediate medallions except in England. Bonaparte was completely cut off from his European base. The English, on the other hand, had both the means and the incentive to produce a number of medals celebrating their victory. It is surprising that even after Bonaparte’s return to France and consolidation of power as first Consul, and given his enthusiasm for what he regarded as the great achievement of his Egyptian conquests, the Egyptian medals were so long in coming. Of course the recovery of northern Italy was Bonaparte’s first concern, and then there were the medals to celebrate the victory at Marengo. The delay in producing the Egyptian medals was not due to lack of interest on Napoleon’s part, however.” [Citing his letter dated 6 September 1800 ordering six medals for the Egyptian campaign, including one for the conquest of Upper Egypt, and another letter dated 9 Jan. 1801 asking for a report on the medals that had been requested.] “The three Egyptian medals eventually produced were the Conquest of Upper Egypt (1806), the Conquest of Egypt (1808), and the Conquest of Lower Egypt (1810)” (this medal, with its reverse showing the Pyramids). Id.

See also the late David Block’s essay on “The Egyptian Campaign” in his online “Medallic History of Napoleon” (available on the Internet Archive at https://web.archive.org/web/20120204070433/http://fortiter.napoleonicmedals.org/medals/index.html), explaining that the Napoleonic medals on the subject of Egypt were “not designed and struck until a few years after that campaign, when the medal mint was reestablished and Vivant Denon was appointed its director. A law had been created in France under the monarchy that made medal-making a state monopoly. Individuals could prepare dies but the striking had to be done at a government mint. This law, in abeyance during the revolution, was enforced again when Napoleon was ruling France.”  

**See Künker’s lot description at https://www.numisbids.com/n.php?p=lot&sid=6689&lot=2786, translated into English: “The image of the river god goes back to a Roman colossal statue that was made at the end of the 1st century AD and was probably installed in the Templum Pacis in Rome. At the beginning of the 16th century, the statue was found together with another mirror-image sculpture of the Tiber and transferred to the Vatican. The statues were exhibited together there until they reached Paris with many other art objects under Napoleon. While the Nile statue returned to Rome in 1815, the Tiber remained in Paris, where the impressive sculpture can still be viewed in the Louvre today.

The attributes such as crocodile and sphinx clearly identify the river god as Nile; so do the putti playing on and in front of him. Of the original 16 boys, only eight [sic; I count 7, as do several of the authorities cited above] can be seen on the medal. They symbolize the 16 cubits (approx. 7.1 m.) that the Nile ideally rises during its annual flood in order to optimally supply the surrounding land with fertile mud and thus make it usable for agriculture.” According to Laskey at p. 18, Denon reduced the 16 putti to seven for purposes of the medal in order to symbolize the Nile’s tributary streams.

Here is a photo of the Nile statue in the Vatican museum, with its putti:

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It is clear that the obverse of this medal was modeled after the statue, which was then in Paris.

4. France, AE Medal, First Empire, Mont Blanc School of Mines, 1805. Obv. by Bertrand Andrieu: Laureate head right, NAPOLEON - EMPEREUR; beneath truncation in two lines, DENON DIR. | ANDRIEU F. [fecit] / Rev. by Nicolas Guy Antoine Brenet: A figure of an old man of colossal size, personifying the mountain of Mont Blanc; he appears in a crouching attitude, blind from age, with his bald head penetrating and capped with clouds; his right hand grasps a gigantic rock, under which appears a cavern with miners working within; his left hand, in repose, lies across his left thigh; water flows from rock and from his long beard to feed rivers at the base of the mountain, where his left foot rests; in exergue in two lines, ECOLE DES MINES DU | MONT BLANC; above exergue on raised edge of ground line, BRENET F. to left and DENON D. to right / Edge: “34” written in ink on edge (a probable reference to the medal’s catalog number in Laskey 1818, infra). 40 mm., 38.52 g.  Bramsen I 471 pp. 77-78 [Ludvig Ernst Bramsen, Médaillier Napoléon le Grand, ou, Description des médailles, clichés, repoussés, et médailles-décorations relatives aux affaires de la France pendant le consulat et l'empire, Vol. I, 1799-1809, at pp. 88-89 (Copenhagen 1904), available at Neuman Numismatic Portal]; Millin & Millingen 79 p. 30 (Ill. Pl. XXIII) ) [Aubin Louis Millin de Grandmaison & James Millingen, Medallic History of Napoleon (London 1819), available on Google Books]; Julius 1498 p. 92 [Sammlung Dr. [Paul] Julius, Heidelberg: Französische Revolution Napoleon I. und seine Zeit : Medaillen, Orden und Ehrenzeichen, Münzen (Auktion 11 Jan. 1932, Otto Helbing Nachf., München, Auktions-Katalog 66), available at Newman Numismatic Portal); Laskey 34 pp. 68-69 [Capt. J.C. Laskey, A Description of the Series of Medals Struck at the National Medal Mint by Order of Napoleon Bonaparte (London 1818), available on Google Books]; Zeitz 34 p. 94 (ill. p. 95) [Lisa & Joachim Zeitz, Napoleons Medaillen (Petersberg Imhof 2003)]. Purchased from Münzenhandlung Wolfgang Rittig, Schwelm, Germany, April 2023.*

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The names of Brenet and Denon on the reverse can be seen only when viewing the medal from its edge. This photo shows the names, and also gives an idea of the medal's three-dimensionality:

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The inked number on the edge (34) probably represents the medal's Laskey number (also used in Zeitz), based on a list of the Napoleonic Medals available for purchase at the Monnaie de Paris (i.e., the Paris Mint) in 1815: 

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*This medal commemorates the establishment of a school of mineralogy in the Department of Mont Blanc. According to Zeitz (see p. 94), the medal’s reverse design was announced on 12 Feb, 1802, the die was completed by Brenet in May 1805, and a specimen was presented to Napoleon’s Council of Mines on 16 Feb. 1806. Both Laskey and Millingen suggest that the reverse design was inspired by the famous 11-meter high 16th century “Apennine Colossus” statue by the Flemish sculptor Giambologna (Jean de Boulogne), located in Tuscany, intended as a personification of the Apennine Mountains.. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apennine_Colossus and the photos of the Colossus at that page, e.g. the following: 

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There is undeniably a resemblance.

5.  France, AE Medal, First Empire, Coronation of Napoleon I at Milan as King of Italy, 23 May 1805. Obv. Laureate head right, NAPOLEON - EMPEREUR; beneath truncation in two lines, DENON DIR. | ANDRIEU F. / Rev. Iron crown of Kings of Lombards, with circlet of gold and jewels, and row of figures of angels and saints above inscription on lower rim of crown reading AGILVLFVS • GRATIA • DEI • GLORIOSVS • REX; above crown, NAPOLEON ROI • D’ITALIE •; in exergue in three lines, COURONNÉ • A • MILAN • LE • XXIII • MAI • M • DCCCV •; below, DENON •  DT * JALEY •  FT •. 40 mm., 35.10 g. Bramsen I 418 p. 68 [Ludvig Ernst Bramsen, Médaillier Napoléon le Grand, ou, Description des médailles, clichés, repoussés, et médailles-décorations relatives aux affaires de la France pendant le consulat et l'empire, Vol. I, 1799-1809, at pp. 88-89 (Copenhagen 1904), available at Neuman Numismatic Portal]; David Thomason Alexander, A Napoleonic Medal Primer (2022), No. 52 (discussed at p. 78; ill. p. 79) (available at https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/book/618630); Millin & Millingen 96 pp. 35-36 (Ill. Pl. XXXIII) ) [Aubin Louis Millin de Grandmaison & James Millingen, Medallic History of Napoleon (London 1819), available on Google Books]; Julius 1380 p. 86  [Sammlung Dr. [Paul] Julius, Heidelberg: Französische Revolution Napoleon I. und seine Zeit : Medaillen, Orden und Ehrenzeichen, Münzen (Auktion 11 Jan. 1932, Otto Helbing Nachf., München, Auktions-Katalog 66), available at Newman Numismatic Portal]; Laskey 49 pp. 88-89 [Capt. J.C. Laskey, A Description of the Series of Medals Struck at the National Medal Mint by Order of Napoleon Bonaparte (London 1818), available on Google Books]; Zeitz 49 [Napoleons Medaillen (Petersberg Imhof 2003)]; Todd p. 114 (with rev. ill.) [Richard A. Todd, Napoleon’s Medals: Victory to the Arts (The History Press, UK, 2009)]. Purchased from Ancient Galleon LLC, Villanova, PA, March 2023.*

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*Obv. portrait by Jean-Bertrand Andrieu (1761-1822); rev. design by Louis Jaley (1763–1838); Director of Medal Mint Dominique-Vivant Denon (1747-1825). See the discussion of this medal at Todd, op. cit., p. 114, with an illustration of the reverse:

“Another medal pictures the crown of Agilulfus, the ancient Lombard king (592-615), a circlet of gold and jewels over an iron ring, said to have been forged from one of the nails that had pierced Christ’s hand. The inscription reads AGILVLFVS. GRATIA. DEI. GLORIOSVS. REX. The crown was brought from the cathedral of Monza to Milan by an escort of the Guard and of citizens of Monza. [Citing Le Moniteur, 1 June 1805.] Napoleon was following in the footsteps of Charlemagne who in 774 had conquered the Lombards and assumed the title ‘King of the Lombards.’ As he placed the crown on his head, Napoleon spoke the traditional words of the Lombard ceremony, ‘God has given it to me; let him beware who touches it.’ [In French, ‘Dieu me la donne, gare à qui la touche.’] Napoleon was now Emperor of France and King of Italy.”

6.  France, AE Medal, First Empire, Marriage of Napoleon and Marie-Louise, Paris 1810 [civil marriage 1 April 1810, religious ceremony 2 April 1810 in Louvre]. Artists: Jean-Bertrand Andrieu, N.G.A. Brenet, and Dominique-Vivant Denon (signed ANDRIEU F.[ECIT] on obverse neck truncation of Napoleon; on reverse, signed BRENET F.[ECIT] to lower left and DENON D.[IREXIT] to lower right). Obv. Conjoined heads right of Napoleon, laureate, and Marie-Louise, diademed (anepigraphic except for Andrieu signature) / Rev. Napoleon, laureate, in costume of Roman Emperor, paladumentum over right shoulder, stands facing, head right, gazing at Marie-Louise next to him, his left arm around her; Marie-Louise, crowned and veiled, wearing long transparent gown,* stands with her face turned towards Napoleon, their right hands joined; immediately to the left of the couple, an altar lit with vestal flame, decorated on front with bow and quiver of Cupid, crossed over flaming torch of Hymen upright, NAPOLEON EMP. ET ROI – M. LOUISE D’AUTRICHE; in exergue, MDCCCX. 32 mm., 16.2 g. Trésor Numismatique 39.4 p. 84, ill. Planche XXXIX No. 4 [Paul Delaroche, Henriquel Dupont & Charles Lenormant, eds., Trésor de numismatique et de glyptique, Vol. 18, Collection de Médailles de L’Empire Français et de L’Empereur Napoleon (1840), available at gallica.bnf.fr]; Bramsen II 954 p. 4 [Ludvig Ernst Bramsen, Médaillier Napoléon le Grand, ou, Description des médailles, clichés, repoussés, et médailles-décorations relatives aux affaires de la France pendant le consulat et l'empire, Vol. II, 1810-1815 at p. 35 (Copenhagen 1907), available at Newman Numismatic Portal]; Zeitz 111, p. 204, ill. p. 206 [Lisa & Joachim Zeitz, Napoleons Medaillen (Petersberg Imhof 2003)]; Todd p. 170, rev. ill. p. 171 [Richard A. Todd, Napoleon’s Medals: Victory to the Arts (The History Press, UK, 2009)]; Laskey CXI p. 183 (description at id. CX p. 182) [Capt. J.C. Laskey, A Description of the Series of Medals Struck at the National Medal Mint by Order of Napoleon Bonaparte (London 1818), available on Google Books]; Julius 2264 p. 138 [Sammlung Dr. [Paul] Julius, Heidelberg: Französische Revolution Napoleon I. und seine Zeit : Medaillen, Orden und Ehrenzeichen, Münzen (Auktion 11 Jan. 1932, Otto Helbing Nachf., München, Auktions-Katalog 66), available at Newman Numismatic Portal]; Prince d’Essling 1288, ill. Pl. xxxix [Feuardent Frères et Jules Florange, Importante Collection de Monnaies et Médailles, Napoléon I, etc., Appartenant au Prince d’Essling (Paris, Hôtel Drouot, Jun 1927) (Two Vols., 68 Plates)]. Purchased 21 Apr. 2023 from Binders GOLD & SILBER e.K, Vaihingen an der Enz, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.**

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*See Zeitz p. 204: “Sie trägt ein unter der Brust geschnürtes, langes durchsichtiges Kleid, Schleier und Krönchen.” [She wears a long, transparent dress laced under her breasts, a veil and a crown.]

**At p. 170, Todd quotes the mint Director Dominique-Vivant Denon’s correspondence with the Emperor’s administration regarding the design of this medal: “Denon’s reply to Daru, Napoleon’s Grand Marshal of the Palace, describes the medal for the wedding already in the process of execution. On the obverse are the conjoined heads of the Emperor and the Empress and on the reverse ‘the Emperor in heroic costume conducting the Empress to the altar of Hymen.’ . . . . A letter to Daru of 8 March 1810 gives the total number of wedding medals finally struck – 85,000 in gold, silver, and bronze [70,000 of them 15 mm. in silver]. These were distributed to princes, ambassadors, persons of the emperor’s household, officials of the provinces and workers in the mint. The tiny 15 mm. pieces were thrown to the crowds in public places.”

7.  France, AE Medal, Napoleon’s Return from Elba and March on Paris, 1815, by N.G.A. Brenet (Obverse), Jean-Bertrand Andrieu (Reverse), Dominique-Vivant Denon (Director). Obv: Crowned Napoleonic eagle with wings spread flies over sea from Isle of Elba, visible in distance, towards French shore at Golfe-Juan, holding original insignia of Legion d’Honneur in its beak, showing obverse side (with Napoleon’s portrait); in exergue in two lines, XXVI. FÉVRIER / MDCCCXV.; signed to lower left, BRENET, F.[ECIT], and to lower right, DEN.[ON]. D.[IREXIT]./ Rev. Napoleon on March to Paris, standing in military uniform, arms crossed on his chest, looking right towards two figures welcoming him: a peasant leaning towards him with open arms, and a uniformed Grenadier presenting arms to him, respectively representing the French people and the army; signed DENON DIR.[EXIT] downwards in lower left field and ANDRIEU F.[ECIT] upwards in lower right field; in exergue in two lines, RETOUR DE L'EMPEREUR / MARS MDCCCXV. Trésor Numismatique 64.3 p. 125, ill. Planche LXIV No. 3 [Paul Delaroche, Henriquel Dupont & Charles Lenormant, eds., Trésor de numismatique et de glyptique, Vol. 18, Collection de Médailles de L’Empire Français et de L’Empereur Napoleon (1840), available at gallica.bnf.fr]; Bramsen II 1591, p. 103 [Ludvig Ernst Bramsen, Médaillier Napoléon le Grandou, Description des médailles, clichés, repoussés, et médailles-décorations relatives aux affaires de la France pendant le consulat et l'empire, Vol. II, 1810-1815 at p. 35 (Copenhagen 1907), available at Newman Numismatic Portal]; Zeitz 136, p. 242, ill. p. 243 [Lisa & Joachim Zeitz, Napoleons Medaillen (Petersberg Imhof 2003)]; Todd pp. 201 (with obv. ill.), 204 (with rev. ill.) [Richard A. Todd, Napoleon’s Medals: Victory to the Arts (The History Press, UK, 2009)]; Laskey CXXXVI pp. 233-234 (describing only side depicting Napoleon) [Capt. J.C. Laskey, A Description of the Series of Medals Struck at the National Medal Mint by Order of Napoleon Bonaparte (London 1818), available on Google Books]; Julius 3282 p. 197 [Sammlung Dr. [Paul] Julius, Heidelberg: Französische Revolution Napoleon I. und seine Zeit : Medaillen, Orden und Ehrenzeichen, Münzen (Auktion 11 Jan. 1932, Otto Helbing Nachf., München, Auktions-Katalog 66), available at Newman Numismatic Portal]; Millin & Millingen 286 at p. 95 (ill. Pl. LII) [Aubin Louis Millin de Grandmaison & James Millingen, Medallic History of Napoleon (London 1819), available on Google Books]; David Thomason Alexander, A Napoleonic Medal Primer (2022), No. 160 (p. 160; ill. p. 161) (available at https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/book/618630); Jean Babelon, La Médaille et Les Médailleurs (Paris 1927), ill. Pl. XXIX No. 8. 40 mm., 33.7 g. Purchased May 18, 2023 from PGNUM (Marek Melcer, Podlaski Gabinet Numizmatyczny, Białystok, Poland).*

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*The nine references for this medal cited above express varying opinions as to which side is the obverse and which the reverse, given that neither side bears a conventional obverse portrait. Four identify the eagle side dated Feb. 1815 as the obverse (Trésor Numismatique, Bramsen, Zeitz, and Alexander); four identify the obverse as the side dated March 1815 depicting Napoleon welcomed by the people and army (Laskey [the only side described], Julius, Millin & Millingen, and Babelon), and one (Todd) identifies neither side as the obverse, illustrating the two sides on different pages  -- although the eagle side is illustrated first. I decided to identify the eagle side as the obverse because (1) The flight from Elba preceded the march on Paris chronologically, so it seems more logical for the side depicting it to have been intended as the obverse; and (2) The three catalogues of the nine generally considered the most complete and authoritative – Bramsen, Zeitz, and Trésor Numismatique – all identify the eagle side as the obverse. 

Todd explains at p. 201 the significance of the Legion of Honor medal held by the eagle in its beak: “The crowned eagle flying from Elba to the French mainland carries in its beak the original Legion of Honor. The reason is clear. Louis XVIII had reorganized the Legion into one that suited him. Placing the portrait of Henry IV, the national hero, on the obverse” of the insignia to replace Napoleon’s portrait, he replaced the Napoleonic eagle originally on the reverse with “the symbol of the French monarchy, a crowned fleur-de-lis. In addition, Louis had discontinued the stipend that was the original part of the award” when Napoleon created it in 1804. Thus, having the Napoleonic eagle represent Napoleon’s return from Elba, carrying the original Legion of Honor in its beak, symbolizes not only the return of Napoleon himself but the restoration of both Emperor and eagle to the award. 

For contrast, here's my example of a medal presenting the British perspective on Napoleon's flight from Elba, from the 1820 Mudie Series; it also uses an eagle to represent his flight:

Great Britain, Napoleon's Flight from Elba/Congress of Vienna, 1815 (struck 1820). Obv. French eagle with thunderbolt (symbolizing Napoleon) approaches the French coast, Isle of Elba in background, to left TEMPLUM. JANI (Temple of Janus), with four-sided Janus on corner of roof, its doors lying broken (symbolizing the breaking of peace); in exergue: XXVI. FEBRUARY MDCCCXV.; above exergue line in front of Temple: BR [Brenet] / Rev. Mercury, displaying a scroll inscribed TO ARMS, flying over globe carrying the news of Napoleon's flight, DECLARATION OF THE CONGRESS OF VIENNA. In exergue: XIII MARCH. By N.G.A. Brenet/ A.J. Depaulis. AE 41 mm., 41.8 g. Mudie 32, Eimer 1064, BHM 869, Bramsen 1597.

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Note that the artist for the "eagle side" of both medals, depicting the flight of Napoleon from Elba, was the same person: Nicholas Guy Antoine Brenet (1773-1846). Like a number of leading French medallists who had worked for Napoleon, he provided his services to the British before Napoleon was in his grave. After all, you gotta make a buck! See Alexander, A Napoleonic Medal Primer, op. cit.at p. 164, discussing the James Mudie 40-piece series chronicling the British role in the Napoleonic Wars, in which this medal was No. 32: "Working with British medal-manufacturer Sir Edward Thomason, Mudie unblushingly sought out leading French medalists to create his designs. These engravers knew the subject well, having just finished working for Napoleon himself!"

Bertrand Andrieu’s Numismatic Clichés: Uniface Lead Napoleonic Medallions

Introduction:

As explained at the late David Block’s old website (see https://web.archive.org/web/20110808192011/http://fortiter.napoleonicmedals.org/miscellany/cliches.htm), “Numismatic clichés are uniface impressions made from engraved dies. . . . The first sort is made by the engraver when he is carving a die. Since he is working on a negative image, he may want to see how the positive image will look. To do this he makes a puddle of molten tin or lead on his workbench and presses the unfinished die into it. . . .

The French kings did not allow the private striking of medals, so medal engravers who wanted to sell copies of their work began producing a second sort of cliché. Using a machine called a clichoir they forced a soft medal (usually lead) into their completed dies, creating uniface medallions. These clichés were usually colored to imitate bronze. . . . The famous engraver [Bertrand] Andrieu had a shop in Paris where cliches from his dies were sold. The individual impressions which were sold were mounted in more or less elaborate frames, but there were also sets made up of several clichés, mounted in cases, most of which have the outward appearance of being books.”

These “books” are believed to have been assembled and published for the British market, some years after the fall of Napoleon. For photos of the interior of one such book, with links to descriptions of the individual medals it contains, see Benjamin Weiss’s website at http://www.historicalartmedals.com/MEDAL WEB ENTRIES/FRANCE/NAPOLEONIC MEDALS/ANDRIEU-BOXED SET-BW388 HIGH.htm:

Left side of opened book:

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Right side of opened book:

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(The five uniface medallions I now own that were later included in this "book," all described below, are marked with red dots.) 

See also the discussion in David Thomason Alexander’s book A Napoleonic Medal Primer (2022) at p. 66:

“These bronzed Lead medals are continuations of engraver Bertrand Andrieu’s profitable series beginning with uniface medallions on such events as the Fall of the Bastille and the Return of the Royal Family to Paris. Public sale of such pieces brought the artist fame and wealth. . . . These Cliché medallions were intended for wall display in brass frames under domed glass covers or lunules. Unprotected specimens quickly acquired edge nicks and field scratches on their soft surfaces. [An illustrated specimen’s] reverse bears traces of old glued paper as often seen on contemporary Lead medal or pattern coin splashers of this era. . . . Sale of sets and single examples of Andrieu’s Clichés continued for years after Napoleon’s downfall despite the vigorous official opposition of the restored Bourbons.”

I now own five of Andrieu’s uniface lead (sometimes described as pewter, although I'm certainly not able to determine the difference) cliché medallions – presumably sold originally at his store in Paris – two of them bronzed lead and the other three plain lead with all or most of the bronzing worn off or removed. (One sometimes sees references to these uniface medallions as “lead-filled bronze,” as if a bronze shell were created first and subsequently filled with lead, but that does not appear to be an accurate description given the existence of plain lead specimens like mine with the bronze coating worn off or removed.)

8. NEW. France, Bronzed PB (Lead) Uniface Cliché Medallion, Napoleon I, First Empire, 1804 [after crowning as Emperor 18 May 1804], by Bertrand Andrieu. Obv. Laureate, draped, and dressed bust of Napoleon right in grand imperial military costume with high collar, NAPOLEON – EMPEREUR around, signed ANDRIEU, F. [fecit] on truncation of right shoulder / Rev. Uniface. 67.5 mm., 44.3 g. [Holed in border at 12:00.] Bramsen I 299 p. 51 [Ludvig Ernst Bramsen, Médaillier Napoléon le Grandou, Description des médailles, clichés, repoussés, et médailles-décorations relatives aux affaires de la France pendant le consulat et l'empire, Vol. I, 1799-1809 (Copenhagen 1904), available at Newman Numismatic Portal] [first Napoleonic medal listed under Empire]; Julius 1221-1222 p. 77 [Sammlung Dr. [Paul] Julius, Heidelberg: Französische Revolution Napoleon I. und seine Zeit : Medaillen, Orden und Ehrenzeichen, Münzen (Auktion 11 Jan. 1932, Otto Helbing Nachf., München, Auktions-Katalog 66), available at Newman Numismatic Portal] [1221: 68 mm. silvered pewter; 1222: 60 mm. black lead]; Trésor Numismatique 1.1 p. 1, ill. Planche I No. 1 [Paul Delaroche, Henriquel Dupont & Charles Lenormant, eds., Trésor de numismatique et de glyptique, Vol. 18, Collection de Médailles de L’Empire Français et de L’Empereur Napoleon (1840), available at gallica.bnf.fr] [first Napoleonic medal listed after coronation; medal dated 18 May 1804]; Benjamin Weiss Collection BW 392 (see photo & description at http://www.historicalartmedals.com/MEDAL%20WEB%20ENTRIES/FRANCE/NAPOLEONIC%20MEDALS/ANDRIEU-NAPOLEON,%20EMPEROR-BW392%20HIGH.htm ) (68 mm.). Purchased 21 Nov. 2023 from www.cgb.fr ; ex iNumis, Paris, France, Mail Bid Sale 49, 6 Oct 2020, Lot 936.

image.png.f8568db835ef7dbbdd80e6b28cedd990.png

9. The Empress Joséphine (1763-1814) (married Napoleon 1796, crowned as Empress 18 May 1804 and as Queen of Italy 26 May 1805], marriage annulled 10 Jan 1810):

France, PB (Lead) Uniface Cliché Medallion, Joséphine Bonaparte, Empress and Queen, First Empire, 1805 [after crowning as Queen of Italy 26 May 1805], by Bertrand Andrieu. Obv. Draped bust of Joséphine right wearing diadem, necklace, and drop earrings, JOSEPHINE - IMP. ET REINE. [Empress of France & Queen of Italy] around, signed ANDRIEU, F. [fecit] on bust truncation / Rev. Uniface. 67.5 mm., 66.20 g. Bramsen I 476 p. 78 [Ludvig Ernst Bramsen, Médaillier Napoléon le Grandou, Description des médailles, clichés, repoussés, et médailles-décorations relatives aux affaires de la France pendant le consulat et l'empire, Vol. I, 1799-1809 (Copenhagen 1904), available at Newman Numismatic Portal]; Julius 1506 p. 93 [Sammlung Dr. [Paul] Julius, Heidelberg: Französische Revolution Napoleon I. und seine Zeit : Medaillen, Orden und Ehrenzeichen, Münzen (Auktion 11 Jan. 1932, Otto Helbing Nachf., München, Auktions-Katalog 66), available at Newman Numismatic Portal]; Todd p. 162 (ill. at same page) [Richard A. Todd, Napoleon’s Medals: Victory to the Arts (The History Press, UK, 2009)]; Alexander 42 p. 66 (ill. p. 67) [David Thomason Alexander, A Napoleonic Medal Primer (2022)]; Trésor Numismatique 7.13 p. 16, ill. Planche VII No. 13 [Paul Delaroche, Henriquel Dupont & Charles Lenormant, eds., Trésor de numismatique et de glyptique, Vol. 18, Collection de Médailles de L’Empire Français et de L’Empereur Napoleon (1840), available at gallica.bnf.fr]; Benjamin Weiss Collection BW 390 (see photo & description at http://www.historicalartmedals.com/MEDAL%20WEB%20ENTRIES/FRANCE/NAPOLEONIC%20MEDALS/ANDRIEU-JOSEPHINE-BW390%20HIGH.htm ). Purchased 7 Nov. 2023 from www.cgb.fr.

image.png.f6cfdad9bfa4f749c7d99956e66416da.png 

Josephineunifacemedallionondisplaystand.jpg.4707ac6715bbcd45f9cd6d78f039778f.jpg

10. NEW. France, PB (Lead) Uniface Cliché Medallion (with traces of bronze coating remaining), Napoleon I, Emperor and King, First Empire, 1805 [after crowning as King of Italy 26 May 1805], by Bertrand Andrieu. Obv. Laureate bust of Napoleon left, NAPOLEON – EMP. ET ROI. [Emperor of France and King of Italy] around, signed ANDRIEU, F. [fecit] on bust truncation / Rev. Uniface. 68 mm., 63.91 g.  Julius 1504 p. 93 [Sammlung Dr. [Paul] Julius, Heidelberg: Französische Revolution Napoleon I. und seine Zeit : Medaillen, Orden und Ehrenzeichen, Münzen (Auktion 11 Jan. 1932, Otto Helbing Nachf., München, Auktions-Katalog 66), available at Newman Numismatic Portal] [Lead 68 mm., same obv. legend as this specimen, noting “mit Königstitel”]; Benjamin Weiss Collection BW 391 (see photo & description at http://www.historicalartmedals.com/MEDAL%20WEB%20ENTRIES/FRANCE/NAPOLEONIC%20MEDALS/ANDRIEU-NAPOLEON,%20EMPEROR%20AND%20KING-BW391%20HIGH.htm ) [Lead 68 mm., same “Napoleon Emp. et Roi” obv. legend as this specimen]; Bramsen I 475 p. 78 [Ludvig Ernst Bramsen, Médaillier Napoléon le Grandou, Description des médailles, clichés, repoussés, et médailles-décorations relatives aux affaires de la France pendant le consulat et l'empire, Vol. I, 1799-1809 (Copenhagen 1904), available at Newman Numismatic Portal] [obv. leg. var., “Napoleon Empereur”]; Trésor Numismatique 7.12 p. 16, ill. Planche VII No. 12 [Paul Delaroche, Henriquel Dupont & Charles Lenormant, eds., Trésor de numismatique et de glyptique, Vol. 18, Collection de Médailles de L’Empire Français et de L’Empereur Napoleon (1840), available at gallica.bnf.fr] [obv. leg. var., “Napoleon Empereur”]. Purchased 19 Nov. 2023 from Adrian Ludu (ebay seller “adiel1960”), London, UK.

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11.  Napoleon with his second wife, the Empress Marie-Louise (1791-1847), daughter of Franz II of Austria. He married her by proxy on 11 March 1810 in Vienna; their civil marriage took place in Compiègne, France on 1 April, 1810, and the religious ceremony was held the next day, 2 April, 1810, in a chapel in the Louvre:

France, Bronzed PB (Lead) Uniface Cliché Medallion, Napoleon Bonaparte and Marie-Louise, First Empire, 1810, by Bertrand Andrieu. Obv. Conjoined busts left, in high relief, of Napoleon, laureate, and Marie-Louise, diademed; on truncation of Napoleon’s bust, signed ANDRIEU FECIT • / Rev. Uniface (with remnants of original early-19th century paper label with handwritten name “David Davies”). 140 mm., 808 g. (28.5 oz.). Trésor Numismatique 42.1 p. 87, ill. Planche XLII No. 1 (140 mm., assigning date 31 Dec. 1810 to medal) [Paul Delaroche, Henriquel Dupont & Charles Lenormant, eds., Trésor de numismatique et de glyptique, Vol. 18, Collection de Médailles de L’Empire Français et de L’Empereur Napoleon (1840), available at gallica.bnf.fr]; Bramsen II 1001 p. 12 (citing Trésor Numismatique 42.1 but giving diameter as 125 mm.) [Ludvig Ernst Bramsen, Médaillier Napoléon le Grandou, Description des médailles, clichés, repoussés, et médailles-décorations relatives aux affaires de la France pendant le consulat et l'empire, Vol. II, 1810-1815 (Copenhagen 1907), available at Newman Numismatic Portal];  d’Essling 1300 p. 115 (not illustrated, described as 133 mm.) [Feuardent Frères et Jules Florange, Importante Collection de Monnaies et Médailles, Napoléon I, etc., Appartenant au Prince d’Essling (Paris, Hôtel Drouot, Jun 1927) (Two Vols., 68 Plates)]; Benjamin Weiss Collection BW 376 (see photo & description at http://www.historicalartmedals.com/MEDAL%20WEB%20ENTRIES/FRANCE/NAPOLEONIC%20MEDALS/ANDRIEU-MARRIAGE%20OF%20NAPOLEON%20TO%20MARIE%20LOUISE-BW376%20HIGH.htm ); Jean Babelon & Jean Roubier, Portraits en Médailles (Paris 1946), ill. Planche xxxix (140 mm.); cf. Julius 2336 p. 142 & Pl. 36 (described as Gilded bronze; 154 mm. with brass frame) [Sammlung Dr. [Paul] Julius, Heidelberg: Französische Revolution Napoleon I. und seine Zeit : Medaillen, Orden und Ehrenzeichen, Münzen (Auktion 11 Jan. 1932, Otto Helbing Nachf., München, Auktions-Katalog 66), available at Newman Numismatic Portal].  Purchased 18 April 2023 from Strack’s Antiques (Milwaukee Auction House LLC), Hales Corners, WI.

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Detail showing Andrieu's signature:

NapoleonMarieLouiseunifacemedalAndrieu140mm.TresorNum_XLII_1p.87Essling1300Babelon1946Pl.XXXIX(8).jpg.518d9f3f2220308b91807b4349bc6243.jpg

The reverse, showing the remnants of the glued paper label (the small descriptive label is the seller's; its 1812 date is not consistent with the reference works I consulted). I wish more of the original label had been preserved or that I could read anything of what's left other than the name David Davies.

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On display, with its glass dome removed:

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12. NEW. France, PB (Lead) Uniface Cliché Medallion, Empress Marie-Louise, First Empire, 1810, by Bertrand Andrieu. Obv. Diademed and draped bust of Marie-Louise right, hair in chignon, MARIE LOUISE – IMPERATRICE. [Empress] around; signed ANDRIEU. F. [fecit] on bust truncation / Rev. Uniface. 68 mm., 49.71 g. Trésor Numismatique 41.6 p. 87, ill. Planche XLI No. 6 (68 mm., assigning date 31 Dec. 1810 to medal) [Paul Delaroche, Henriquel Dupont & Charles Lenormant, eds., Trésor de numismatique et de glyptique, Vol. 18, Collection de Médailles de L’Empire Français et de L’Empereur Napoleon (1840), available at gallica.bnf.fr]; Bramsen II 1028 p. 15 [Ludvig Ernst Bramsen, Médaillier Napoléon le Grandou, Description des médailles, clichés, repoussés, et médailles-décorations relatives aux affaires de la France pendant le consulat et l'empire, Vol. II, 1810-1815 (Copenhagen 1907), available at Newman Numismatic Portal] [68 mm.]; Julius 2360 p. 143 [Sammlung Dr. [Paul] Julius, Heidelberg: Französische Revolution Napoleon I. und seine Zeit : Medaillen, Orden und Ehrenzeichen, Münzen (Auktion 11 Jan. 1932, Otto Helbing Nachf., München, Auktions-Katalog 66), available at Newman Numismatic Portal] [Lead, 67 mm.]; Benjamin Weiss Collection BW 389 (see photo & description at http://www.historicalartmedals.com/MEDAL WEB ENTRIES/FRANCE/NAPOLEONIC MEDALS/ANDRIEU-MARIE LOUISE-BW389 HIGH.htm) (Bronzed lead, 68 mm.). Purchased 21 Nov. 2023 from www.cgb.fr .

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Finally, given that these uniface medallions were originally intended to be displayed, here's a photo of the five of them together as I currently have them on display in my living room (glass domes removed):

image.png.64750232b4610f650c338e237eb1f51b.png

 

Edited by DonnaML
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6 hours ago, AETHER said:

Amazing, been looking myself at grabbing a Napoleon bronze medal, any suggestions on where to acquire some 40mm-ish ones at reasonable prices? I'm totally new to this, but Napoleon interests me. I enjoy looking at the ones you post.

I don't know what you consider reasonable prices, but if you look for "Napoleon" and "medal" on MA-Shops or Ebay, you'll find hundreds (if not thousands) of examples in bronze in varying conditions and at a wide range of prices. Perhaps a few less on VCoins for whatever reason.  (Some of the results will be Napoleon III medals, but the vast majority will be what you want.) For an original strike (as opposed to a restrike), I don't think you're likely to find too many attractive medals for less than $150-$200, going up to $500 and beyond.* (Examples in silver are scarce and much more expensive.) I don't think you have to worry much about fakes, even on Ebay. Most dealers specify in their descriptions whether the medals they're selling are original strikes rather than restrikes, and you can always inquire. And most restrikes look a lot shinier and newer than the originals anyway! An original strike of a Napoleonic medal should have a plain edge with no hallmark or other symbol, since the Paris Mint didn't begin using those, for both originals and restrikes, until 1832. See https://blog.cgb.fr/une-semaine-une-medaille--n-19-,9151.html :

"01/09/2017
The medal market is not yet very well developed, but it was in the past... it seems that this market has been neglected by most French professionals. And in the absence of material offered to collectors, collectors were interested in other things!
In any case, prices are often quite subjective, with few references available regarding the prices achieved. Period strikes are naturally more appreciated than later restrikes ... how can we recognize them? It would be relevant to recall the different hallmarks used in France. Adopted in 1832, this system of hallmarks has since been obligatory for medals. The edge must bear a hallmark which determines the period at which it was struck, as well as the nature of the metal; ZINC, COPPER, BRONZE, SILVER or GOLD for example.

Seven different hallmarks allow us to know the time of manufacture;
- the antique lamp is used between 1832 and 1841.
- the anchor (with a C) is used between 1841 and 1842.
- the ship's bow is used between 1842 and 1845.
- the hand is used between 1845 and 1860.
- the bee is used between 1860 and 1879.
- the pipe is used only in December 1879
- the cornucopia has been used since 1880.

Other geometric punches, in the shape of a square, diamond or triangle, are only brands of private manufacturers."

As I note in my descriptions, copies of many of the older catalogues and other reference works used for Napoleonic medals are available on the Internet and shouldn't be too difficult to find, if you want to research a particular medal. Or you could look on acsearch or similar websites.

*The uniface Napoleonic medallions in the 60-70 mm. range are usually less expensive than a standard two-sided Napoleonic medal, perhaps averaging about $100 apiece. The gigantic ones like my 140 mm. specimen depicting Napoleon and Marie-Louise cost quite a bit more.

Edited by DonnaML
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Donna,   I had no idea you collected French coins and medals.  I have for years thought that a beautiful Napoleon medal would be an attractive and historically significant addition to my overall numismatic collection but it has never been in front of me when I shop.  Thanks for sharing.  I will be considering this at NYINC (if I don't find much in my major focuses).  Hope to meet you there.

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1 hour ago, SteveJBrinkman said:

Donna,   I had no idea you collected French coins and medals.  I have for years thought that a beautiful Napoleon medal would be an attractive and historically significant addition to my overall numismatic collection but it has never been in front of me when I shop.  Thanks for sharing.  I will be considering this at NYINC (if I don't find much in my major focuses).  Hope to meet you there.

I just looked at the dealers' list for NYINC. The only dealer that I know for a fact sells Napoleonic and other French medals is cgb.fr. Of course I don't know if they bring any with them, since they're primarily a coin dealer. William Goetz and Paul Bosco are both well-known dealers in medals and other exonumia, who ought to have French medals among their stock, although again there's no way of knowing exactly what they'll have with them. Also, I don't know what Bosco's story is, but he didn't show up last year on the preview day when I was there and hoping to stop by his table. Perhaps he put in an appearance on the other days. He's also notorious for never answering emails inquiring about the medals on his (1990s-vintage!) website. Goetz, I believe, doesn't even have a website. Neither has really joined this century!

I don't know yet which day I'll be going, but I hope I run into you and other members!

Edited by DonnaML
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Amazing to put it mildly/ you certainly have an eye for beauty! Your historical write up is so so informative and I learned a lot. You have exceptional taste! Thanks for sharing.....

PS: I still have no Louis napoleon III AV 10 Francs bare or laureate head/ either Strasbourg/ Paris Mint/ have all other gold types!

John

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Here’s my Médaille de Sainte-Hélène featuring Napoleon I.

I posted this a while back on the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. The medal is authentic but I replaced the original shredded and faded ribbon because I was afraid that it would disintegrate. I have it stored in an archival sleeve for protection. The green ribbon striped with red is of an exact pattern as the original and manufactured by the same company that produced them in the 19th century.

 

image.jpeg.cffc2601565b6a9f7ce4716926a6dbba.jpeg

 

 

 

Edited by LONGINUS
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7 hours ago, LONGINUS said:

 

Here’s my Médaille de Sainte-Hélène featuring Napoleon I.

I posted this a while back on the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. The medal is authentic but I replaced the original shredded and faded ribbon because I was afraid that it would disintegrate. I have it stored in an archival sleeve for protection. The green ribbon striped with red is of an exact pattern as the original and manufactured by the same company that produced them in the 19th century.

 

image.jpeg.b25a81dae82804c70a53dc87cfdc335c.jpeg

 

Fantastic 

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