Neo - Classical Medal of Minerva

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Al Kowsky, Oct 13, 2018.

  1. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    I wasn't sure where to post this thread but Ancient Coins seemed to be the best place. Many years ago I bought this medal at a Johnson & Jensen Medal auction & kept it because of the beautiful portrait of Minerva, see photos below. The medal was struck at the Paris Mint, designed by Rambert Dumarest (1750-1806), & presented to a famous playwright, Henri Meilhac, in 1888. The medal is silver, weighs 65.08 gm, is 50 mm in diameter, is struck in high relief, & blessed with a fine patina. The Roman goddess Minerva & the Greek goddess Athena are one in the same, however, the Romans didn't stress her attributes of battle & warfare like the Greeks did, instead they focused on her attributes of science, art & trade. One thing that always puzzled me was the spelling of Meilhac's first name on this medal as HENRY instead of Henri, as he was known at that time. Could this be an engravers error? Silver presentation medals from the French Institute are quite rare & bronze specimens are not common either. Neither Johnson or Jensen could offer a plausible explanation for the spelling on the medal, but did stand by their attribution. Do CoinTalk members have any thoughts on this?
    IMG_6342.JPG IMG_6344.JPG P1220920_Carnavalet_Delaunay_Henri_Meilhac_rwk.jpg
    Jay GT4, ominus1, chrsmat71 and 8 others like this.
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  3. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    That is a gorgeous medal with lovely toning! I love the depiction of Minerva here.
  4. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Very pretty, I like it too.
  5. iamtiberius

    iamtiberius SPQR Supporter

    Reason for subtle snake on helmet and snakes on toga? Unless it's a hint at Athena turning Medusa into the snake haired monster.
  6. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    The snake on her helmet may be Skylla, the snake-bodied sea monster frequently depicted as adorning her helmet, as on this beyond-my-budget example at Nomos:


    And Athena/Minerva is typically depicted as wearing the aegis, which is decorated with snakes. You may read more about this in a thread I posted about a year ago.

    Domitian Minerva denarius.jpg

    Aegis 3.jpg
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2018
  7. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Roman Collector, that's a gorgeous stater from Nomos & an interesting explanation of the snakes seen on so many depictions of Athena/Minerva.
    Roman Collector likes this.
  8. Aestimare

    Aestimare Active Member

    I have retrieved the epitaph of his tomb that confirm the spelling of your medal.
    To Henry Meilhac
    member of the French Academy
    testimony of sincere admiration
    and affectionate trust
    this memorial was erected
    by a friend
    L. Dauvergne architect

    Henry seems to be the right spelling.
    Jut the title mentioned Henri. During the rest of the article Henry is used.
    I imagine the principle operated as a neologism.
  9. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Aestimare, many thanks for the great research!
    Roman Collector likes this.
  10. Dave M

    Dave M Francophiliac

    Beautiful medal. Meilhac would not be the first to have a French spelling changed to the English version for convenience. Edmond Dulac is also known as Edmund Dulac, for example. So my guess is he used both spellings, not a typo (or "engrave-o").
    Roman Collector likes this.
  11. chrsmat71

    chrsmat71 I LIKE TURTLES! Supporter

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