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Copper is good



Napoleon had a fascination with the Roman Empire and this is reflected in everything he did, most notably on the medals of the period. I have an example of the medal depicting the Vendome column in Paris, this was erected in 1810 as tribute to the Grand Armee and the Victory at Austerlitz in 1805. This was Napoleon's take on Trajan's column in Rome.

Both columns show a spiral relief of important military events, the major events of the 1805 campaign for Napoleon and in this case of Trajan the Dacian campaign. The similarity does not end there as they also seem to have had the statue on the top changed a few times over the years – Napoleon, originally dressed in Roman garb, did not survive much past 1814 and the fall of his Empire being re-instated as the little corporal’ in 1833. The Vendome column was also demolished in 1871 during the short-lived Paris commune only to be re-erected a mere three years later following the French army regaining control of the area. This is the version that can still be seen in Paris today and is topped by yet another roman reincarnation of Napoleon.

An extremely rare, possibly unique, gold version of the medal has just appeared at the upcoming MDC Monaco auction (20-21 October, lot 763) with a starting price of 30,000Euros.:whatthe: That means that I will not be able to ‘upgrade’ in this lifetime and have to settle for my example, copper is good.:bigsmile:





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This reminds me of something King George III purportedly said when presented proof pence pieces by Sir Joseph Banks in 1797 (Tungate, 2020). Upon accepting the proofs, he also took a business strike example and, while handing it to the Keeper of his Medals, said, “Take care of this. I like one struck for common use better than a fine one”. This quote seems fitting given that the gold medal you mentioned was undoubtedly struck for a specific purpose, while the copper version was likely for “common use”. I am sure that I firmly fall in the minority here, but I would much prefer a finely preserved copper piece to a gold specimen independent of the price.

Assuming my eyes are not playing a trick on me, it appears that Droz engraved the obverse bust. I think it is very cool that despite our areas of focus being very different, we can count Droz as a commonality. Of course, his tenure at the Soho Mint was troubled, but nonetheless, he played an essential role in the early days of its formation.

On any note, I enjoyed the write-up! Thanks for sharing!

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I love that quote!

Droz seems to have got around a bit, as did a few other engravers. There have been quite a few 'not recorded' and 'unique' gold Napoleonic coins and medals appearing over the last year or so - some of these have been from the 'bonaparte family' and in their possession since their issue.

I wonder if the Dutch, Italian and Westphalia branches of the family have decided now is a good time to sell??

The gold version seems to be a reworked die and/or struck over another medal - I am still trying to identify thishm

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His time at the Soho Mint is a dark stain on an otherwise impressive career. There is no disputing that Droz had talent, but the evidence makes it clear that he had no issues taking an Englishman’s money without putting those good skills to work.  

I think it would be pretty cool to own a piece from the Bonaparte family! That said, it is likely a safe assumption that those pieces come with a hefty price tag.  

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