Featured Two Benjamin Franklin Medals by Augustin Dupré

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by johnmilton, Feb 10, 2020.

  1. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    In 1784, after the Americans and the British signed the Treaty of Paris, which won our independence, Augustin Dupré designed and executed a medal in honor of Benjamin Franklin. Next to George Washington, Franklin was the most important player in the American Revolution. He was able to convince the French to aid us which made a great deal of the difference.

    The most important military action the French contributed to our cause was the blockade by the French Navy which kept the British Navy from relieving Cornwallis. Cornwallis had not choice to surrender, and that marked the last major engagement of the war.

    Here is the medal that Dupré designed for Franklin in 1784.

    Ben Franklin O.JPG Ben Franklin R.JPG

    The obverse features a portrait of Franklin based upon the bust made by Houdon in 1778. It is surrounded by the words, Benj. Franklin Natus Boston, XVII Jan. MDCCVI. (Benjamin Franklin born in Boston January 17, 1706.

    The reverse features a winged genius Franklin pointing with his right hand at the lighting bolt that is striking a temple protected by a lighting rod. The lighting rod was one of Franklin's many inventions. With his left hand, Franklin points to a crown and Scepter dashed on the ground. This is surrounded by the words "Eripuit coelo fulmen sceptrumque tyrannis" (He snatched the lightling from the hearvens and the scepter from tyrants.) At the bottom is in three lines, "Sculpsit et dicavit | Aug. Dupre anno | MDCCLXXXIV. (Augustin Dupre engraved and dedicated in the year 1784.

    This is the "artistic verson" of the medal with the symbolism on the reverse. This a fairly rare medal. The piece shown above has the pointing hand "CUIVRE" which indicates that this piece was struck during the period from 1845 to 1860 at the French Mint.

    In 1786, Depre made another reverse for this piece. I purchased this piece last week.

    Ben Franklin Wrea O.jpg Ben Franklin Wrea R.jpg

    The obverse is the same. The reverse has the same wording, but the beautiful design on the 1784 medal is replaced by an oak wreath. This medal was also issued by the French Mint during the 1845 to 1860 period. Given that there is more die rust on the the obverse of this piece and some crumbling on the right rim, this piece was struck some time after the previous medal.

    This was appearantly the "official medal design." Far more of these were made at the French Mint that the prevous design. Perhaps the image of the the crown and scepter on the ground was too much for the French king. The Franklin medal that was included in the set of silver medals that Thomas Jefferson brought to America in the late 1780s had this reverse design.

    These medals are part of the Cometia America series which was a group of French medals that were made for American heros of the Revolutionary War.
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  3. green18

    green18 Unknown member Sweet on Commemorative Coins Supporter

    Excellent write-up John. Beautiful medals........How many mm's across?
  4. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    46 mms
    green18 likes this.
  5. cpm9ball

    cpm9ball CANNOT RE-MEMBER

    Thanks for posting this @johnmilton ! I always enjoy reading about French medals since they are an important part of my medals collection.

    Just so everyone knows, the Paris Mint produced a restrike of the first medal portraying Franklin as the "winged genius". They released it in recognition of Franklin's 300th birthday, and I bought a pair of these restrikes at the Paris Mint table at the 2006 FUN Show.
    IMG_1262 (2)[1].JPG
    IMG_1263 (2)[1].JPG
    These were struck in bronze, are 47mm and weigh 57 grams. There are no markings on the edge. ~ Chris
  6. Iosephus

    Iosephus Well-Known Member

    Great medals! I have an early (plain edge) strike of the wreath reverse, and I've noticed that the reverse die is slightly different than later strikes, such as yours:

    Chris B likes this.
  7. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    Yes, the reverse is slightly different. Alan Stahl, who gave a presentation and wrote wrote an article for the 1995 ANS Coinage of the Americas Conference, stated that the newer reverse was used on pieces issued 1900 to the present. Since my piece has the “pointing hand” on the edge, it was obviously used much earlier than that.

    Thank you for posting a clear photo of you piece. The old fashioned b&w photos in the reference books do not provide good images of the differences.
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