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Médaille de Sainte-Hélène: CM.1444-2009

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Mint: Paris
Ruler: Napoléon I (1804-14) (Struck in the name of)
Die-engraver: Barre, Albert-Désiré
Ruler: Napoleon III (1852-70) (Struck in the rule of)
Mint: Colmar, Paris




The aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars left the reputation of the erstwhile Emperor in dudgeon for some years, but the return to power of his family in the person of Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte, who was President of the Second Republic from 1849 and from 1852 Emperor Napoleon III, resulted in a rapid rehabilitation of his career. This also led to a feeling that the endeavours of Napoleon I's soldiers had not been publically recognised, and in 1857 therefore a commemorative medal was issued in Napoleon I's name for any man still living who could show that he had served in the Grande Armée between 1792 and 1815. Some 405,000 medals were issued, not just to Frenchmen but also to Belgians, Dutchmen, Danes and Irishmen to name but a few, but the medal's order's documentation was lost in a fire of the nineteenth century.
As the medals were issued unnamed, this means that unless a personal history can be reconstructed using other documents, examples of the medal cannot be attributed to a particular recipient. An ongoing amateur research project is currently collecting material of this kind, but the example in the Watson Collection unfortunately has no such back-history. All that can be said is that Lester Watson purchased it from the London dealers Baldwin at some point before 1928.


History note: Gift of L. Hoyt Watson; ex Lester Watson Collection, bt Baldwin before 1928

Legal notes

Given by Lester Watson through Cambridge in America, 2009

Measurements and weight

Diameter: 31.4 mm
Weight: 31.57 g

Place(s) associated

  • Colmar

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (2009) by Watson, Lester


Production date: AD 1857

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production


Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: Bust of Napoleon I wreathed facing right, surrounded by laurel wreath and surmounted by crown which forms suspension

  • Location: Obverse
  • Type: Design

Inscription present: Inscription within laurel wreath around central inscription "A / SES / COMPAGNONS / DE GLOIRE / SA DERNIERE / PENSEE / St HELENE / 5 MAI / 1824"

  • Location: Reverse
  • Type: Design

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: CM.1444-2009
Primary reference Number: 141538
Watson Catalogue: 364
Ordering: M-0327
Previous object number: LW.0327
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 15 January 2024 Last processed: Monday 15 January 2024

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Coins and Medals

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Médaille de Sainte-Hélène" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-06-25 19:45:00

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{{cite web|url= |title=Médaille de Sainte-Hélène |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-06-25 19:45:00|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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