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Art Nouveau Gold Coins and Medals

At the turn of the 20th century Art Nouveau was system of aesthetics that encompassed painting, drawing, sculpture, architecture, jewelry design, furniture design, etc.  It was a global (western) movement that incorporated an ideal of the abstract flow of the lines and patterns of nature into a disciplined functional design.  It was a marriage of beauty and use, and as such formed the basis of Modernism.  And, as is always the case, the term Modernism echoed the precepts of Classicism.

Art Nouveau expressed itself completely in the Art Nouveau Medal.  Most of the great Art Nouveau sculptors, painters and designers were also Medallists.  The form and substance of the medal was one of ultimate Use: They were created on round or rectangular planchets to celebrate specific occasions and accomplishments in identifiable metals all the while celebrating the artists' vision of natural beauty.

Two world wars and a global depression gave rise to a total rejection of classical (Read: Modern) ideas of  the marriage of "technique, beauty, and form and use."  The rejection of Modernism gave rise to Post Modernism wherein the "The concept" was championed in "fine art," most often by those with minimal conceptual training, while form, use and beauty were consigned to "decorative arts."

Nevertheless, some of these "decorative" artists are now being rediscovered in the new auction market, where their jewelry, watches, vases, etc are commanding record bids.

Mint Marks used at the PARIS MINT:
Plain Edge=> All medals before March 30th 1832 have plain edges and before 1841 for bronze or copper.
Antique Lamp=> from March 30th 1832 until October 21st 1841 (on gold & silver only).
Anchor=> from October 21st 1841 until September 25th 1842.
Ship Prow=> from September 26th 1842 until June 12th 1845.
Pointing Hand=> from June 13th 1845 until October 1st 1860.
Bee=> from November 1st 1860 until December 31st 1879.
Cornucopia (Horn of Plenty) => from 1880 until now.

Jules Clement Chaplain. In 1877 he was named the official medallist of the French government; in 1878 he was named a chevalier of the Legion of Honor; and in 1881 was given the seat at the Académie des Beaux Arts. He was responsible for the official portraits of every president of the French Republic from Edme Patrice MacMahon in 1877 to Émile Loubet in 1899. He was commissioned to engrave the gold coinage of France; his gold medal commemorating the visit of Czar Nicholas and Czarina Alexandra of Russia to Paris in 1896 was thought to be one of the finest ever struck. And in 1896 he designed the medals for the first modern olympics.

FRANCE Troisième république - 1878

The Universal Exposition, Paris, Gold Medal, 1878, signed by J C Chaplain, both sides. 50mm, (82.63g. .916 fine gold) Laureate head of Marianne left, rev Victory and child genius hover above the exhibition, named in plaque: New York Consolidated Card Co. The company produced wonderful playing cards and was founded in 1871 by the merging of three earlier firms which had flourished during the mid-19th century.

Very Rare in gold, and in the origianl box of issue - remarkable condition for a medal of this size and age. The Royal Society of Arts (Great Britain) published (in 1879) a comphensive review of the Artists and Artisans to show work in 35 catagories of industrial and fine arts. That number is perhaps indicative of the number of large gold first place medals struck. This medal design was used only at exposition of 1878.

rare in this condition

PCGS graded SP 62............................sold

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FRANCE Troisième république - 1881

Conservatoire National De Musique et Declamation: Silver First Prize Medal for Comedie 77 MM, (135 gms) edge marked argent awarded to:

M. Felix Galipaux: famed actor, playwrite and star of five of the original films of Georges Melie. It was this very prize that catapulted Galipaux from the Comedie Francaise to becoming director of the Theater of the Palais Royal.

Galipaux was the Parisien Heartthrob of his era. He was a celebrated actor, director, playwrite, wit, and all around charming man about town. And like modern celebrities he had his own clothing and perfume lines. He ended up with with his own statue. His plays are still in print and available today. This medal would have been the period's equivalent of the Tony Award/Academy Award.


Signed by J. C. Chaplain



FRANCE Troisième république 1888

Lloyd Rouennais Gold Medal for Saving Life at Sea, by Alphée Dubois, gold (83.89g), 46mm, French cornucopia and 'OR' marks stamped to the edge, reverse centre engraved 'Lloyd Rouennais au Captaine Lash 24 Janvier 1888',

Lloyd Rouennais, founded 1726, is a French society for the protection of both industrial and commercial marine vessels. It is the equivalent of the British Lloyd's Group, with the medals issued for similar actions of Bravery and Gallantry at Sea.

S.S. Suez, owned by Cie De Navigation d'Orbigny Et Faustin Fils, of La Rochelle, sank on 24 January 1888, after a collision with the German S.S. Dihmarschen off Cabo Espichel en route from Penarth to Marseille

Extremely rare, perhaps unique.

Only one gold medal has been issued by Lloyd's of London, according to the record of bravery awards at the Guildhall library and this is the only recorded example of this gold medal from Lloyd's of Rouen. The reason for the extraordinary gold issue of medals usually issued in silver and bronze is unclear.

Brilliant Uncircultated in case of issue
PCGS SP 62..........................................$12,000

CHILE 1910

Gold Plaque for Chilean Independence.

Struck in FRANCE. 42x58mm (91.26 grams,18-Karat), by Rene Lalique.

Obverse: Female personification of the Republic, standing ‘midst wheat. Reverse: Landscape, divided diagonally by the staff of the national flag; arms below; the Andes in the distance. 

The company Lalique’s continuing output of crystal and jewelry is so well known, the medals by the founder Rene Lalique --issued through WW1-- are overshadowed by his other works. A rare 'FEMME AILÉE' SCULPTURE, sold at Christie's New York in 2018 for $492,500; a crystal Brandy Decanter designed by Lalique recently sold for $640,000 US in a Hong Kong auction. All of the medals he designed are quite rare. The design for this Chilean piece is one of the most exceptional among all art medals.

Eextremely rare original strike in high quality gold. The only specimen offered in the last 20 years. Restrikes in low quality gold are quite common.

in the original case of issue.
SUPERB MINT STATE.................$25,000

FRANCE, Troisième République 1910

AV Medal (36mm, 28.60 g, 12h). Société des Artistes – Third Prize Medal. By Daniel Dupuis. Presented to Grégoire Nicolas Finez, 1910, for painting. Personification of the Arts standing facing, holding wreath in each hand,and adorning altar being inscribed AD GLORIAM by a putto, seen from behind, seated on an Ionic capital; large tree in background / SOCIÉTÉ DES ARTISTES FRANÇAIS, PEINTURE/SALON DE 1910/FINEZ/GREGOIRE NICOLAS/MÉDAILLE DE/3ME CLASSE in six lines. On edge: cornucopia and 1OR



Belgium, 1913

Brussels Municipal Award of Honor (44g .750 fine gold - noted on the holder ) Signed by the Artist J C Chaplain for Maurice Ansiaux, Professor of Political Economy at the University of Brussels, who wrote extensively - and presciently - about the use of Precious metals in the curbing of inflation and the prevention of Economic Crisis. Obv: St Michael, standing over slain devil.

Extremely Rare in gold and a unique design by master artist Chaplain.

PCGS SP 64.........................................$4500

pcgs 4594655


Monnaie de Paris, Piefort 5 francs, (38 gm. .920 fine gold) From dies of the 1897 essai by Oscar Roty. Signed by the artist on the obverse.
Rare year.

From a mintage of 35 coins.

OBV: Famous Sower Lady (La Semeuse) image.

PCGS SP 68...............................$7500


For info, comments, purchase requests contact: Jeff Kahn at
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