Here are a few more lots that caught my eye in the catalog for Joe Levine's upcoming Presidential Coin & Antique 85th auction sale.
These are from the consignment of early American medals from Tony J. Lopez. -Editor
Lot 375: Duchesse Du Maine Order of the Honey Bee Medal in Gold
DUCHESSE DU MAINE ORDER OF THE HONEY BEE MEDAL IN GOLD, 1703. Gold. Brilliant Uncirculated with proof-like lightly hairlined surfaces.
28.5 mm, 14.4 grams. Obverse: Bust of Louise Bénédicte de Bourbon, Duchess of Maine facing right, legend surrounding:
L.BAR.D.SC.D.P.D.L.O.D.L.M.A.M [Louise, BARonne De SCeaux, Dictatrice Perpétuelle De L’Ordre De La Mouche À Miel- Louise (Baroness de
Sceaux, Perpetual dictator of the Order of the Honey Bee)], Below bust: H.R.F. (Henri Roussel Fecit) Reverse: Prominent Honey Bee in the
foreground with a bee hive in the distance, legend surrounding: PICCOLA SI MA FA PUR GRAVI LE FERITE. (She is small, yes, but nonetheless
gives cruel wounds).
No original examples of the medals are known to exist. In the 19th century, restrikes were also struck in silver, copper, and
coppergilt; presumably with the original dies. The silver examples are quite rare. This medal has two cornucopias straddling the number 1
on the edge, indicating an 1880’s strike of high gold content. This is the only known example in gold extant which matches the composition
and appearance of the original medals.
Lot 384: Benjamin Franklin Terra Cotta Medallion
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN WITH SPECTACLES AND FRANKLIN AMERICAIN LEGEND -EXCESSIVELY RARE AND DESIRABLE TERRA COTTA MEDALLION BY JEAN BAPTITISTE
NINI, 1777. Storelli LXIII. 118 mm (approximate measurement outside display case). Hand-beveled along reverse rim. Bust of Franklin in Fur
cap facing left, wearing spectacles, with legend surrounding: *FRANKLIN* *AMERICAIN*, below bust the date: 1777, surrounded by intrinsic
frame. Under the truncation of the bust is a coat of arms with a hand holding a lightning rod, and a vertical lightning bolt; to left
incuse artist’s signature: NINI F, to right: 1777.
In addition to the “common” fur cap variety, Jean Baptiste Nini created several varieties of his Franklin terracotta medallions,
including two varieties with Franklin wearing a Phrygian Liberty cap, Franklin bare headed with a star above his head, large format with
Franklin bare headed (in 1779), and this variety with Franklin wearing spectacles with legend surrounding. Franklin invented bifocals and
the lightning rod seen in this medallion’s design which honors Franklin as inventor and scientist.
Lot 385: Benjamin Franklin With Spectacles Medallion
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN WITH SPECTACLES - RARE TERRA COTTA MEDALLION BY JEAN BAPTISTE NINI, 1777.
Storelli LXIV, Greenslet GM-6. 93.5 mm x 8mm.120.8 g. Very slight beveling along rear edge. Bust of Franklin in Fur cap facing left,
wearing spectacles; under the truncation of the bust is a coat of arms with a hand holding a lightning rod, and a vertical lightning bolt,
to left incuse artist’s signature: NINI F, to right: 1777. Storelli describes this medallion as similar to the preceding Storelli LXIII but
“par l’absenced’encadrement et de legend” (missing the legends and framing). As explained in the preceding lot, the relative size and
design of this smaller medallion appears to match the interior bust of Franklin seen on Storelli LXVIII. This bust, like Storelli LXIII, is
entirely different than the bust seen on the common fur cap variety.
The molds for Storelli LXIV were later used by Balon to make aftercasts in the late 19th century. The aftercasts were not created using
the clay at Château Chaumont and are smaller in diameter with a slightly smaller design as well as thicker and heavier in weight than seen
on this piece. More than anything, the Balon aftercasts have a different “feel” and are more granular than the silky feel of this piece
made from the fine clay at Château Chaumont.
This small terra cotta medallion with Franklin wearing spectacles is excessively rare, with less than a dozen examples known - the
majority of which are likely Balon aftercasts. The medallion has a uniform rich red/brown coloration with a few small areas of disturbance
seen on the shoulder, fold of the coat, lapel and highest point of the fur cap which could be professionally restored. Still, overall an
excellent example of great rarity. The Ford example sold in a Stack’s May 2006 auction for $11,500. $7000+
For more information, see:
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
SELECTIONS FROM PRESIDENTIAL AUCTION #85
Wayne Homren, Editor
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