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1809 King George III Enters the Fiftieth Year of His Reign, Great Britain

BHM 657

 

898365.jpg

35mm Link

 

There were more medals produced about this subject between 1809-1810 than probably any other event of the Napoleonic era. So I thought I'd start with an oddity. As far as I know this is the only medal that refers to George III as Emperor of the British Isles. Only two years after this George would slip into irreversable dementia.

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1809 Death of Matthew Boulton, Great Britain

BHM 662

 

899112.jpg

41mm Link

 

Boulton was one of the innovators of coin minting using steam power to increase production and quality at the same time. This medal was given to the workers at the mint who attended his funeral with a total mintage of only 530.

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1809 Grande loge de Herodom en France, France

Bramsen 933

Marvin CCXL

d'Essling 2137

Edwards 522

 

898243.jpg

35mm Link

 

This is an R4 Masonic medal that once was in the collection of Prince Victor Napoleon. The engraver's name was Jaley who did a number of masonic pieces as well as non-masonic for the Paris mint. This medal contains several references to modern masonry's origin in Scotland, at least from the French perspective. For this reason we see the oddity of a French medal with the partial legend IN THE LORD WE PUT OUR TRUST on the reverse.

 

1809 Loge des Sept Ecossais réunis, France

Bramsen 930

Marvin LIII

Edwards 519

d'Essling 2135

 

898251.jpg

29mm Link

 

The Lodge of the Seven United Scotsmen. This lodge first opened in Paris on February 4, 1809. Again, despite the references to Scotland this was an entirely a French masonic lodge. It is another piece from Prince Vcitor Napoleon's collection.

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1809 Réunion de L'etat Roman a L'Empire, France

Laskey CIII

Bramsen 848

d'Essling 1235

 

903049.jpg

41mm Link

 

This commemorates the annexation of the Papal States into France. This is an Italian strike, the way to tell is the obverse legend. Andrieu engraved obverse hubs for both Paris and Milan, with Italian legends for the latter. The color is also something of a giveaway.

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1809 Attaque d'Anvers, et séjour a Schoenbrunn, France

Laskey CII

Edwards 478

Bramsen 870

d'Essling 1247

Milan 688

 

901401.jpg

40mm Link

 

In summer of 1809 the English Army landed an expedition in Walcheren Island as a diversion to help the Austrians against Napoleon. Unfortunately by the time they were on the continent the Austrians had already lost the 1809 campaign. Since they were there they couldn't very well just pack up and leave so they muddled on for nearly two months. The troops contracted a mysterious disease that decimated their ranks; in fact more would die of disease than enemy action. At the beginning the French had only a few National Guards to oppose the British but over time they called up overwhelming forces. At the end of the summer the British left having accomplished nothing except losing a significant number of men.

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1809 Prud'hommes de Lyon, France

Bramsen 919

d'Essling 1954

 

898405.jpg

32mm Link

 

I'm not certain exactly what prud'hommes means. Perhaps arbitration or appeals board. A jeton de presence.

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Yeah, some of these medals are just wonderful. It's the thing that makes our hobby so nice, that we can hold art in our hands. It's just about the only hobby where that's literally true. :ninja:

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1809 The Battle of Talavera, Great Britain

BHM 674

Bramsen 2221

 

901395.jpg

15mm Link

 

The majority of these little medals commemorate British victories as you might expect. The British commanders, in particular Wellington, consistently outsmarted their French opponents. The French commanders had two disadvantages; first, they usually outnumbered the British and second, Napoleon didn't trust his commanders with independent command. The two factors meant that they barged ahead with hammer blow attacks instead of using their superior numbers to force the British out of their prepared positions. Also the French commanders in Spain had ideas of carving their own kingdoms out and refused to cooperate with other French commanders of equal rank. This forced Napoleon to arbitrate from Paris (and beyond when he was on campaign) and fed into his paranoia about letting them become too independent.

 

1809 The Battle of Corunna, Great Britain

BHM 670

Bramsen 835

 

901396.jpg

15mm Link

 

The Battle of Corunna was a British victory in the sense that Dunkirk was a British victory. In both cases had the Navy not controlled the beachhead there would have been no British Army in the aftermath. Napoleon had left the pursuit of the British to subordinate commanders while returning to Paris to handle political enemies. These commanders had been burned by the British too many times already to pursue with abandon. If they had there never would have been a Battle of Corunna. As it was General Moore, probably the best British general of the era (including Wellington), died at Corunna.

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1809 Société d'utilité publique, France

Bramsen 928

d'Essling 2447

 

898276.jpg

35mm Link

 

The 25th anniversary of a public charity in the Netherlands. The link above has more information about the particular charity, but they were pretty common.

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1809 Départ de Paris, et entrée a Vienne, France

Bramsen 847

Laskey XCIX

d'Essling 1234

 

901400.jpg

40mm Link

 

Sort of an interesting medal, it symbolizes Napoleon's departure from Paris before the 1809 campaign against the Austrians and his arrival in their capital a month later. While Vienna surrendered without a shot the fierce battles of Aspern-Essling and Wagram took place just to the north of the city. Aspern-Essling was the first outright defeat that Napoleon suffered though he spun the results in his Bulletin. After regrouping for a month he crushed the Austrians at Wagram though at tremendous cost.

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Those French bronze pieces are beautiful.

I might have to get me a couple of those ... :ninja:

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1809 The Old Price Riots, Great Britain.

BHM 677

 

897818.jpg

25mm Link

 

It is perhaps surprising to hear that the worst civil disorder in Great Britain during the Napoleonic era centered around the price increase that occured in 1809 at the new Covent Garden Theatre. This medal is not listed in gilt, but here one is... :ninja:

 

A more common version:

 

901397.jpg

25mm Link

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1809 Le Canal de l'Ourcq, France

Laskey CXVII

Bramsen 868 var

d'Essling 2129 var

 

897829.jpg

40mm Link

 

While the Canal de l'Ourcq is in Paris this particular piece was apparently struck in Milan. Why the Italian mint thought that striking this medal would be of interest to Italian collectors is beyond me; or why the Paris mint would have supplied them with the reverse... Late in the wars the Milan dies were sent to Paris. So perhaps it was struck then; but then why wasn't it coated with the Paris mint's artificial patina?

 

An interesting point we learn from Laskey is that the construction of a pool associated with the Canal's passage into Paris resulted in Parisians taking up ice skating in winter.

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1809 Paix de Vienne, France

Laskey CVII

Bramsen 876

d'Essling 1250

 

903054.jpg

40mm Link

 

The battle of Wagram ended with a decisive victory for Napoleon and forced the Austrians to sue for peace. They managed to drag out the negotiations, hoping that the Russians or English might be able to save them but finally had to take their lumps.

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1809 Bataille d'Essling et Passage du Danube, France

Laskey C

Bramsen 859

d'Essling 1244

 

899986.jpg

40mm Link

 

Before Wagram and victory came Aspern-Essling and a draw at best. Napoleon tried to force his way across the Danube a few miles north of Vienna in the face of his enemy. He neglected to properly prepare for the crossing in his haste to get at his opponent. While his army was crossing several flimsy bridges the Austrians floated eveything from logs to a grain mill (no kidding!) from upstream and broke the bridges several times during the battle. This meant that critical supplies and reinforcements didn't arrive to the front in a timely manner. In turn the battle for the twin villages of Aspern-Essling turned into a hellish whirlwind where each side took control and then lost over and over. The villages began burning and still the fighting went on with 5,000 men fighting over a city block long building known as the Granary. The fighting was hand to hand and floor to floor. The Austrians slowly began to gain advantages here and there and when nightfall came and fighting slowed Napoleon did the unthinkable; he retreated back across the Danube and left the Austrians in control of the battlefield.

 

For a month he contemplated, planned and brought up more troops. When he re-crossed the Danube he had three times the number of bridges needed and broke out of the Essling area into the plain south of Wagram. There he crushed the Austrians and forced them to sue for peace. But Aspern-Essling destroyed the myth of invincibility.

 

Andre Massena, Duc de Rivoli, Prince d'Essling and marshal of France was made Prince for his efforts at the battle. He was also one of the worst looters in the French Army; quite a distinction actually. One of the things he loved the most were coins and medals; yup he was a coin collector. In 1927 his descendents held a four day auction to sell his collection to pay back taxes. The d'Essling references I put before the pictures come from the sale catalog. :ninja:

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1809 Eau clarifée, France

Bramsen 926

d'Essling 2134

 

898277.jpg

23mm Link

 

This is a token from a purified water company that operated near the Notre Dame in Paris.

 

This second example is in the condition they're most often found. Notice that the obverse die had begun to fail.

 

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23mm Link

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I'm not certain exactly what prud'hommes means. Perhaps arbitration or appeals board. A jeton de presence.

 

A `prud'homme' is a person who acts as an arbiter / conciliator in the context of the employment spectrum ( disputes concerning contract terms and conditions, law, quality, standards of practise).

 

Originally a prud'homme (literally translates as`useful man') was an individual from within the same craft or trade as the people effectively in dispute. A `peer' acting in arbitration role as it were.

 

Don't quote me on this, but as far as i can make out the french (under Napoleon) formalised the concept of 'Conciliation panels' specifically for dealing with all aspects of `employment' in 1806. This was based upon the extant widespread use of `prud'hommes'. The panel (tribunal) was formalised subsequent to the successful use of such a tribunal of `prud'hommes' in conciliating the silk manufacturers and workers of Lyon.

 

These days the Conseil de Prud'Hommes is a `Conciliation Board' made up of representatives from employers and employees who undertake `conciliation' case work where there is litigation involved. How it works precisely is outwith my knowledge, but as far as I can see it also operates beyond conciliation and provides binding dictat much along similar lines to UK Employment Tribunals.

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1809 Death of Sir John Moore, Great Britain

BHM 666

Bramsen 2214

Mudie XIV

 

898254.jpg

41mm Link

 

Sir John Moore was one of Great Britain's greatest generals. Had he survived the battle of Corunna it's entirely possible we never would have heard of Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke Wellington. Badly outnumbered by the French and deserted by his Spanish allies in the middle of Spain Moore led his army in a desperate race to the sea and safety with the British Navy. His retreat was aided by the fact that Napoleon turned over the pursuit to subordinates and returned to Paris. No one pursued a broken army quite like Napoleon and this one fact may have changed the entire course of the wars. Had Britain's one army been destroyed in Spain in 1809 it's possible the peace faction in Britain could have risen again and forced a settlement with France.

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