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Henri IV of France. Need Help In Identifying

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DSCF0455-1.jpgHenry IV of France.


Obv. HENRI IIII ROI DE FRANCE ET DE NAVARRE armoured bust right, unsigned.



51mm, 76 grams silvered lead, or, more likely, silvered pewter with a very high lead content. 6mm thick in places, so a high relief medal. Not sure if this is a one off, just commemorating Henry, or part of a larger series of French monarchs. Have no reference for this & can find no exact match for this on the web, suspect it dates from the 1st half of the 19th century, if so, It just copies the style of Guillaume Dupre's Henry(circa 1600) http://www.metmuseum...74-1642)&pos=17 but it could date from anytime after Henry's death in 1610. Might also have been a trial strike that was silvered as a memento.


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Managed to find an example in a 2008 auction catalogue, same size in AE, it was struck in 1820.

Posted the medals side by side for a visual comparison. 3 easy to spot differences.


1 Mine is unsigned, the other is signed DE PUYMAURIN D. CAQUE F.

2 The truncation is not complete on mine.

3. The lower half of the ear on mine is also unfinished.

Both the flat of the truncation & the ear still have the silvering in place, showing that it is not post strike damage.


Hence, more engraving was done to the die before it was finally finished. All 3 differences indicate strongly(or prove?) that mine is a trial strike.


This obverse was reused in 1838, with a different reverse(more but smaller text) for one of Puymaurin & Caque's King series 1838:




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I don't personally know much about these but having seen similar in Mitchiner's `Jetons, Medalets and Tokens' (vol 2) I went and looked up what he had to say. According to Mitchiner there were `at least three distinct sets of medals depicting The Kings of France made between early 18th C and mid 19th C'. The first set (the ones shown in his tome) of 72 medals were struck from dies attributed to Thomas Bernard (died 1713). A second set was commissioned by Charles X in 1829 and the dies were engraved by Armand Auguste Caque. The third set was commissioned by Louis Philippe during the time frame 1830 - 1833. I'm not certain that yours are examples of the set struck under Louis Philippe or some later set, but they are definitely not from the first two sets.


I have seen bronzed lead strikes of these as well as silvered lead strikes on the market. Not sure if they were struck in soft metal for economy as use for educational purposes or making these sets available at a reasonable cost to the masses (?). That however does not mean that the silvered example you show is not a trial strike for the bronze example. Sorry I can't add anything of significance to your quest for info on these.

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Thanks for the research Ian.


The first set by by Nicolas de Launay Director and Thomas Bernard(often misidentified as by Dassier) are low relief, the second, by Director Puymaurin and Armand Auguste Caque are also low relief 34mm and copy the style of the earlier set, the 3rd set, also by Puymaurin and Caque was shown at the Salon 1836-1839 and are 52mm. This is the set that reused the obverse of the medal with a new reverse which bore more but smaller text.


What appears the most likely is that the obverse from my example, not produce for a set and with the shorter inscription reverse had a new reverse die cut adding HENRI IV./63eme. ROI./ FILS D'ANTOINE DE BOURBON./ which is how the reverses on the 3rd set look, ie they show the number in line of the king, 63th in Henri's case, etc.



You will see on this site that the medals produced for the series are numbered, ironically the Henri IV there is the one with no number and short text reverse and is not placed within the set and they have dated it circa 1830.

This means that mine would be earlier than 1839(no reason to engrave a new reverse to remove text) and could be as early as 1820(as the auction site stated) when it was fashionable to hark back to Henri IV the idealized Ist Bourbon king to try and bolster the restored Bourbon's image.


The Ist set of French Kings by Launay and Bernard inspired Puymaurin and Caque smaller 2nd set, & perhaps a one-off medal by Puymaurin and Caque, of Henri IV, inspired the last set they produced and became the model for it.

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