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Francois Miron, The Beautification of The City of Paris 1606

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Bust left of François Miron .Trans: Francois Miron(Lord Tremblay, Chancellor to the Dauphin) Civil Lieutenant and Provost of the Merchants of Paris.
R: VIIS FONTIBVS PORTIS AEDIFICIISQVE PVBL.(Paths Fountains Gates Public Buildings) François Miron in the robes of a councellor, standing before a curule chair, he shows to her, her reflection in the mirror he holds, to a crowned woman(the personification of the city of Paris) sitting on a curule chair, formed of cornucopiae, with the ship of Paris appearing from her dress. She extends her right hand and offers 3 coins to Miron, inner legend: ET DECVS ET SPECVLVM(both Adornment & Mirror), exergue: LVTETIA / DECORATA.(Paris Adorned) . RR silvered cast lead, 50mm, Maz 744. by Paola Giovanni(known to be in the service of the King of France at least 1604-1607). François Miron(1560-1609) Lord Tremblay, was an advisor to the Parliament of Paris, Chancellor of the Dauphin and provost of Paris from 1604 to 1609. Very rare silvered cast lead medal.

Advisor to the Parliament of Paris on 18 December 1585 , master of requests 11 August 1587 , steward to the Government of the Île-de-France , received on 23 November 1593 , Chairman of the Grand Council , Chancellor of Dauphin , State Councillor for patent 9 December 1594 , lieutenant of the Chatelet of Paris in 1596 and provost of Paris from 1604 until his death in 1609.

Henri IV relied on him to improve the infrastructure of Paris, he greatly increased the water-supply, improved the streets & paths etc & built, among other things, a new City Hall. After the King's death, Marie de Medici continued to support his efforts.

François Miron brooked no refusal, from any of the bourgeois, to cede ground(with compensation) for urban development. But when the King decided to install the Palace for the Dauphine and to reserve homes for bourgeois and merchants, to the exclusion of artisans, the provost rebuffed ...In a letter to the king... he is outraged by this project of "zoning" and ahead of his times, advocates for a social mix "Dear Sire, allow me to withdraw, swearing loyalty to the King, I promised to sustain the Crown....for Your Majesty commands me an act harmful to the kingdom ... I refuse, I say to my dear Master and beloved Sovereign: it is an unfortunate idea of building a neighborhood used exclusive for artisans and laborers. In a capital the Sovereign, should not creat a poor small neighborhood one side of the Seine and a wealthy & large one on the other, it is much easier mixed...danger to your crown might come from that poor ghetto....I do not want, Sire, to be involved with this measure.

He was buried in the family vault in the church Sainte-Marine(ile de la Cite) which was later demolished and houses built upon the site. His tomb was then 'lost', later when the house #73 was in its turn demolished his tomb was rediscovered & he was reburied in Notre-Dame. His statue is on l'Hotel de Ville(Town Hall) of Paris.

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I have never seen or heard of one before. But that is what it appears to be, though it might be tinned lead but that is probably equally as rare. I have seen a gilded bronze version of this medal and the British Museum has a unifaced cast lead obverse of the medal, donated by George IV, ex George III collection.

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I thought lead casts were only trials, given their softness?


You pose great questions Frank.


Bronze was the most common metal, silver & gold was used but many lead medals were also produced, often as you say for trial proofs but also for issue. The status of the recipient or purchaser being a factor. Here from just one catalog is a selection of lead medals, plus as a bonus a beautiful lead plaque from another source. Despite being made of lead all these objects seem to have survived in great condition.


Maybe the lead used then was alloyed(pewter? never heard renaissance medals described that way) or had impurities in it which made it harder than pure lead? I have never seen any studies done on the hardness of renaissance lead, it would be of interest to know. Thanks for the questions, keep them coming, they are much appreciated Frank.





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This article leads me to believe that the lead used was an alloy, not pure lead hence its hardness.



  • L. A. GLINSMAN1,
  • L. C. HAYEK2



This study gathered and reported compositional and descriptive analyses of over 200 Italian Renaissance portrait medals in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington A statistical model was developed for allocation of these medals into meaningful assemblages, using the surface alloy composition, and an expanded nomenclature was formulated. Copper, zinc, tin and lead were the primary elements found to combine to form a wide range of alloys, Common impurities were discovered to be significantly lower in the sixteenth-century medals when compared with those in the fifteenth-century medals. Renaissance medallists had an extensive knowledge of metallurgy and could produce a variety of alloys without the use of modern technology.

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Lead in the 17th century was alloyed with up to 20% tin plus included about 3% of other impurities which could not be removed at that time. So I think my medal is most likely tinned, not silvered.

Taken from an article on lead organ pipes:

"Pig lead available on the market is generally so pure as to be dead soft and must therefore be doctored. By adding some of the impurities that come naturally in the old “pure” lead of the 17th century, the metal can be made sturdy enough to stand for many years. Antimony (0.75%), copper (0.06%), bismuth (0.05%) and tin (1.0%) when added all together will produce the desired stiffening"

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another fascinating piece has entered your collection. I am wondering where it was struck. La Medaille, Paris? I'll check out Mitchiner just in case he has made reference to it or if it appears in the mint records he cites.

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  • 1 month later...

I thought lead casts were only trials, given their softness?

Did some more research on Renaissance cast medals re their metallic composition.

Bronzes; alloys of copper, tin, zinc and lead, with impurities such as iron, nickel, silver, antimony and arsenic.
Bronze types; tin bronze, leaded bronze, quaternary bronze(also known as leaded gun metal)
Brass types; medium-zinc, low-zinc.
Lead added to an alloy for casting enables it to be more fluid & flow easier into a mold.
Antimony; Expands on cooling, this unique charateristic allows the finest details of the mold to be preserved, it imparts hardness & a smooth finish to alloys containing lead.
Arsenic; adds hardness to the lead in leaded bronze(which typically contain 6% to over 10% lead)
Most descriptions of the medals(in literature or auction catalogs) just state bronze or lead, so the ones described as lead must in fact be leaded bronze or leaded gun metal. Hence unlike the 19th century trial strikes using just very soft lead(which is highly purified) so as to not damage an unhardened die, the lead renaissance medals are hard & not easily damaged. Makes sense really as why use lead as a trial for a sand molded cast medal as there is no pressure from a minting machine or hammering. The high lead content was not just for reducing the expense of the materials used in producing the medals the lead added to an alloy for casting enables it to be more fluid & flow easier into a mold.


. That might be partly because of less purification steps to produce the alloy &/or lead being cheaper than copper or tin.
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