A “Napoleonic” medal scheduled for sale in Monaco has an American connection.
The large gold medal was struck in 1856 for a French company that
sponsored a gold ingot lottery.
The Société des lingots d’or, which means “gold ingot company,” was
created on Aug. 3, 1850. Its purpose was to send 5,000 unemployed
Frenchmen to the gold mines of California, according to MDC Monnaies
de Collection Monaco, the firm auctioning the medal on May 20.
The men were former soldiers or individuals suspected of having
revolutionary opinions, so there may have been a political element to
the support for their removal from the country.
A lottery was set to choose the future settlers and registered
applicants were selected randomly by the prefecture. The lucky winners
received a sum of money with a ticket to the United States.
The jackpot was a gold ingot worth 400,000 francs. The ingot was
placed on exhibit in Paris at Montmartre.
The medal in the auction was issued by the society, but the auction
house does not describe its purpose.
Depicts Napoleon III
The obverse features a left-facing bust of Napoleon III, and the
reverse is inscribed with the names of society officials.
The enormous medal weighs 265.7 grams (8.5 ounces) and measures 68
millimeters in diameter, and is accompanied by its original red
The medal is graded Specimen 66 by Professional Coin Grading
Service, and has an estimate of €30,000 ($31,822 in U.S. funds).
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The medal is one of many highlights in the auction dedicated to the
numismatic legacy of Napoleon III. The sale includes a set of coins,
patterns, and medals of the French Second Empire.
With more than 100 patterns, the auction offers “perhaps the largest
collection of Napoléon III patterns, including an exceptional set of
uniface patterns from the 1 centime to the 100 francs” that were
struck in 1855 and framed immediately after striking.
Other highlights include a range of top-graded circulation coins
with private provenances, and a rare collection of medals recalling
the architectural, urban and industrial achievements carried on by
Full details of the sale are available at the firm's website.