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France: 1840 gilt bronze specimen medal by Antoine Bovy, for Napoleon Bonaparte's Paris funeral


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France: 1840 gilt bronze specimen medal by Antoine Bovy, for Napoleon Bonaparte's Paris funeral



Obverse: uniformed, bare headed bust of Napoleon Bonaparte left.
Reverse: scene of Napoleon's original memorial on the island of Saint Helena.
Issuer: engraved by Swiss-French medalist Antoine Bovy (1795-1877).
Specifications: Gilt bronze, 41 mm. Plain edge. Struck in 1840.
Grade: PCGS SP64; cert. #32592814.
Reference: PCGS-544441, Bramsen-1990 gilt bronze, special strike.
Provenance: ex-Mark Engelstad ("thebigeng" on Collectors Universe), 15 June 2019.
Notes: After Napoleon's final defeat in the wars that bear his name, he was exiled to the remote island of Saint Helena, which is situated in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. He died and was buried there in 1821. In 1840, his remains were exhumed and returned to France, where they were eventually laid to rest in the Dôme des Invalides in Paris. This repatriation of the remains was called le retour des cendres , meaning "the return of the ashes". (This simply meant his mortal remains and not literal ashes, as Napoleon was not cremated.) This triumphal return of France's dead hero and his 1840 Paris funeral was the occasion of the striking of these medals, and this particular piece was a special gilt specimen of a type that was usually issued in plain bronze.
Comments: The size of this medal is impressive, as is the flashiness of its gilt surfaces, but what is especially striking is the very high relief. It is quite attractive in hand and is housed in a double-thickness PCGS holder.* Some people have been confused by the "Bramsen-1990" catalog number on the label, believing that to be a date, and the medal thereby to be a restrike. This is not the case. While Bramsen variety #1990 is a posthumous Napoleonic medal, it is an original specimen striking from 1840, not a modern restrike.




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