In 1639 in London, Nicholas Briot, former chief engraver at the Paris Mint, cast a 60-millimeter Dominion of the Seas gold medal for King Charles I.
In the October issue of the MCA Advisory, the official journal of the Medal Collectors of America, Victor England Jr. details the pedigree of the medal, from its production to its current home.
The king presented the unique medal as a keepsake to Bishop William Juxon during the final weeks leading up to the king’s execution in 1649. Circa 1649, the bishop passed along the medal as a wedding gift to a niece, Elizabeth Osborne Merlott. The medal changed hands within the Merlott family several times, reaching Charles Merlott Chitty in 1815; to William Fƒarington Chitty in 1867; and was bequeathed to Percy Sanden Godman in 1878, and remained in the Godman family until 2010. The medal had been loaned for display from 1986 through 2009 in the Pepys Library of Magdalene College in Cambridge. The medal remains today with a member of the Godman family.
Early in his reign, Charles I had reclaimed the title “Sovereign of the Seas,” “an ancient title associated with the kings of Britain since King Edgar in 904 A.D.,” according to Victor England.
Briot’s medal depicts on its obverse a portrait of Charles I facing right, wearing a decorated cuirass with the plain collar of his shirt falling over it; suspended on a ribbon from his neck is the St. George of the Order of the Garter. The reverse features a warship under full sail traveling to the right.
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