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1804 Fetes du Couronnement, France

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35mm Site record.


You seldom see an official Paris mint medal of the Napoleonic era listed in white metal. Not that it wasn't done it's just that Napoleon preferred his medals struck in better quality metals. This is pretty clearly white metal, a tin alloy in any case, that has been coated with the typical artificial patina used by the Paris mint at the time. The patina came from a single mine and was reserved for the exclusive use of the Paris mint. It gives the medals their characteristic chocolate brown look and is yet another reason that you should never clean your medals! (I know, preaching to the choir).


By the 1820s the mine had run out and the mint was reduced to producing normal coppery looking medals. For years they experimented with alternatives but never quite reproduced the look. Most of the experiments end up today with a ghastly greenish tinge. So it's the presence of the genuine patina that makes me date this medal as an original. I suspect there must have been some backdoor business going on at the mint producing these white metal examples as I've collected two or three others over the years.


My other example of this medal is in silver and can be seen below. It was obviously ex-jewelry and normally I wouldn't collect. However it's known that the silver pieces were distributed to high officials who had participated in the actual coronation ceremony. Either the recipient or their spouse thought so much of the honor that they wore it out to events. :ninja:


So, strangely enough I do not yet own the "common" copper/bronze example. Some day...



35mm Site record.

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