World Coins

Rare French gold medal has American connection

A rare gold medal with an American-French connection sold for a hammer price of €25,000 ($28,248 U.S.) during a Nov. 15 auction in Monaco.

Medal images courtesy of Monnaies de Collection Monaco.

A rare gold medal with a French connection was sold during Monnaies de Collection Monaco’s Nov. 15 auction in Monaco.

The medal was issued in 1715, during the reign of Louis XV, and has an American angle of interest as well, being struck for the Society of Merchants, a trade group established to trade with the Americas. 

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The medal sold in the Nov. 15 auction had an opening bid of €10,000 ($11,380 U.S.), and realized a hammer price of €25,000 ($28,248 U.S.).

Louis XV appears on the obverse, and a three-masted ship sailing to the left appears on the reverse. 

The reverse inscription translates to “All the world is open to me. Society of Merchants founded for the islands, 1715.”  

The medal is cataloged at Betts 111 in American Colonial History Illustrated by Contemporary Medals by C. Wyllys Betts

However, Betts records only a copper version.

According to research through the Newman Numismatic Portal, a gilt silver example was sold in Joe Levine’s Presidential Coin & Antique Auction No. 85 (June 2015), where the piece was cataloged as excessively rare, and missing from the Lucien LaRivere, John J. Ford, and John W. Adams collections. 

Levine noted only two examples, that which he sold and another apparently in the Bibliothèque Nationale collection, but the example sold by Levine is recorded as weighing 8.1 grams and measuring 34 millimeters in diameter (compared to a diameter of 34 millimeters and weight of 29.61 grams for the example just sold in the November MDC auction).

The auction house does not provide a provenance or origin for the medal. 

The medal was designed by Jean Duvivier, who was the medalist for the reign of Louis XV. 

Duvivier engraved more than 400 dies and, according to Leonard Forrer in Biographical Dictionary of Medallists, Duvivier “remains one of the greatest medallists of the 18th century.” 

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