World Coins

French gold shooting fest medal in June Zurich auction

A rare gold shooting festival medal for an 1894 event in Lyon, France, is available in Sincona’s June 8 and 9 auction in Zurich.

Courtesy of Sincona Ag.

Say the words “shooting festival medal” and most collectors will automatically fill in or assume the “missing” word, Swiss.

But not all shooting medals are from Switzerland. Though most are (and those from Switzerland have an intriguing history), an item in Sincona’s June 8 and 9 auction in Zürich offers a French connection.

The item of interest is a gold medal from the 1894 international shooting festival in Lyon, France.

In 1894, Lyon hosted the Exposition Internationale et Coloniale, a world’s fair with colonial exhibition, and it seems likely (though not verified) that this shooting festival was held in conjunction with that larger event.

A reported 3.8 million visitors flocked to the exhibition in Lyon, which was held from April 29 to Nov. 11, 1894. A similar exhibition in San Francisco occurred part of this time.

The medal’s design

The medal was designed by Henri Dubois and depicts on the obverse two allegorical figures.

A man, holding in his right hand a spear and arrow pointed downward, receives an olive branch from a seated female figure, a gesture of goodwill, friendship and peace.

The reverse of the medal is dominated by a side view of a lion rampant (standing upright, on hind legs, forelegs raised, claws unsheathed, as if to strike). The Hôtel de Ville de Lyon, the city hall of Lyon, appears in the background.

Surrounding the scene is the legend “suis le lion qui ne mords point sinon quand l’ennemy me poingt,” which translates to “I am the lion that doesn’t bite unless the enemy punches me.”

The medal with this design also exists in silver.

The gold medal offered in the Sincona auction measures 40.2 millimeters in diameter and weighs 54.04 grams (its fineness is not listed).

In Good Extremely Fine condition, according to the auction house, the medal has an opening bid of 2,800 Swiss francs ($2,898 U.S.).

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