Medals - French Silver

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by cpm9ball, Jan 28, 2016.

  1. cpm9ball

    cpm9ball CANNOT RE-MEMBER

    Have you ever noticed the word ARGENT stamped on the edge of older French medals? Or, maybe you noted that there was a 1ARGENT or 2ARGENT. Of course, "argent" is the French word for silver, but did you know that the French used 80% silver and 95% silver in their medals? How are you able to tell what percentage of silver is contained in your medal?

    At the end of the French Revolution in 1789 the new government lowered the standard from 95% to 80% to free up much needed capital. However, it wasn't until 1841 that the Paris Mint (Monnaies de Paris) began stamping the word ARGENT onto the edge of their medals. Apparently, this was necessary because some counterfeiters were pawning off 80% silver medals as 95% silver medals claiming that they were struck before 1789.

    Then, in 1878, the Paris Mint refined their system to allow medals struck in, both, 80% silver and 95% silver. Those medals struck in 95% silver had 1ARGENT stamped on the edge while those medals struck in 80% silver had 2ARGENT stamped on the edge. Supposedly, this practice continued until 1973. So, does anyone know what the standard is today?

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  3. Treashunt

    Treashunt The Other Frank

    nice write up.

    and no clue about today, except I am sure low enough to screw the Americans. :)
    rzage and Dean 295 like this.
  4. chrisild

    chrisild Coin Collector

    In jewelry it was and is quite common to refer to Ag 925 as "argent 1er titre" just as you say "sterling silver" in English. And items with a lower (Ag 800) content would indeed be "argent 2ème titre". According to this page the differentiation for jewelry was introduced in 1838. Here are a few more marks. Maybe the mint still uses that for its medals, but I don't know ...

    rzage likes this.
  5. rzage

    rzage What Goes Around Comes Around .

    Nice write up Chris .
  6. cpm9ball

    cpm9ball CANNOT RE-MEMBER

    Thanks, Christian! Yeah, the hallmarks for silverplate and jewelry are much more complicated than they are for medals.

  7. Jwt708

    Jwt708 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for this @cpm9ball !

    I though I had a couple...but I only have one picture (I'm in Germany right now and they're back home)

    This one says BRONZI on the side I believe.

    21.85 grams, 36 mm. This medal has a sandblast finish however my poor photography makes it appear pitted or corroded.
  8. cpm9ball

    cpm9ball CANNOT RE-MEMBER

    Emile Dropsy was one of the lesser known medallists who attended the Salon (Ecole des Beaux Arts) in Paris. To his credit are several award medals for agriculture, but I would really like to see one of his interpretations of Joan of Arc. In 10 years of searching for one on eBay, I have never found one.

    The Paris Mint is known for using many variations in composition. I have numerous examples of white metal over bronze (like yours), white metal over copper, bronzed copper, gilt silver, gilt copper, gilt bronze as well as the standard silver, copper, gold, bronze and white metal.


    Correction: I used to own a couple of gold medals, but I sold them a long time ago.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2016
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  9. Dave M

    Dave M Francophiliac

    A google search turned up these:
  10. cpm9ball

    cpm9ball CANNOT RE-MEMBER

  11. ewomack

    ewomack 魚の下着

    Sorry if this is completely irrelevant, but it's the closest equivalent I know. Monnaie de Paris struck a pretty cool commemorative series called "From Clovis to the Republic" from 2011 to 2015. Most were designed to look like old hammered coins. They were all .900. Another overpriced, but nonetheless pretty interesting, series.
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