World Coins

Bronze medal in sale marks French military victory

A bronze 1676 medal celebrating a French military victory realized a hammer price of $150 during a May 18 to 20 auction.

Medal images courtesy of Stephen Album Rare Coins.

The military might of the French nation may not be considered particularly fearsome in modern times, but French forces have been responsible for some historic conquests.

One such event in 1676 is honored on a bronze medal that recently sold at auction.

The medal, featuring French King Louix XIV on the obverse, was issued to celebrate the retaking of the Isle of Cayenne in French Guiana. The medal sold for a hammer price of $150 U.S. during Stephen Album Rare Coins’ May 18 to 20 auction in Santa Rosa, Calif. The buyer’s fee is either 17.5 or 20.5 percent, depending on payment method. 

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The French colonized the island in 1664; Dutch attacks began in 1675. In early May 1676, the Dutch commander, Adm. Jacques Blinck, forced the French garrison of Fort Sanit Michel to surrender. 

As soon as this news was known in France, Louis XIV sent Count Jean de Estrees, vice-admiral of the French fleet, with some ships to take the island back from the Dutch. 

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The French squadron arrived at Cayenne in early December, and on the 19th of the same month, after a vigorous French attack, the Dutch garrison surrendered to the French, an event the king deemed important enough to cause this medal to be made. 

The bronze medal measures 41 millimeters in diameter and weighs 30.34 grams, so it is about the size of a American Eagle 1-ounce silver bullion coin.

The reverse shows Neptune carried by his horses while holding flag and trident. 

The medal is cataloged as Betts 50 in American Colonial History Illustrated By Contemporary Medals by C. Wyllys Betts. 

The medal is in Very Fine condition, according to the firm. 

Full results of the auction are available for review at the firm’s website.

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