World Coins

Medal celebrating SS Normandie sold in Baldwin auction

The SS Normandie, a French passenger liner, was commandeered by the United States during World War II. A bronze medal for the ship’s 1935 launch realized $275 U.S. in a Feb. 7 auction.

Images courtesy of A.H. Baldwin & Sons, Ltd.

When the SS Normandie entered service in 1935, it was the largest and fastest passenger ship afloat. Within a decade, the French vessel had been commandeered by the United States to serve in war, but was destroyed.

The Normandie was built in Saint-Nazaire for the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, and entered service in 1935. The ship’s lavish interiors were filled with art-deco designs and the ship earned the Blue Riband (an unofficial award for Atlantic Ocean passenger liners for the highest speed) several times.

The vessel sought haven at New York City as war loomed in Europe in 1939 and was interned by the U.S. government after Germany invaded Poland. The U.S. government seized it after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Redesignated the SS Normandie, the ship was being converted into the USS Lafayette, a troop carrier. However, it caught fire and sank into the Hudson River. Initially salvaged, restoration proved to be too costly and the ship was scrapped in 1946. 

A bronze medal by Jean Vernon marking the launch of the ship sold in the A.H. Baldwin & Sons Ltd. Feb. 7 Spring Argentum sale.

The obverse of the medal features a sea-goddess, arms held above her, as she frees a sea-horse. The reverse provides a port-side (left) view of the liner under steam.

The medal measures 68 millimeters in diameter and is in Mint State condition. 

It realized £180 ($275 U.S.) including the 20 percent buyer’s fee.

To learn more about the auction, visit the firm’s website

More from

Gold prospector willing to part with 87-ounce nugget find for a price

Three-coin 2015 March of Dimes Special Silver Set goes on sale May 4 from U.S. Mint

CCAC makes its Mark Twain commemorative design recommendations

Commemorative coins honoring Mark Twain long overdue

Bank of Canada says not illegal to 'Spock' its $5 notes in homage to the late actor

Please sign in or join to share your thoughts on this story.

Keep up with all of's news and insights by 
signing up for our free eNewslettersliking us on Facebook, and following us on Twitter. We're also on Instagram!

Community Comments