A Rare 1914 Bronze Restrike Commemorating the Marriage of Marie Antoinette to the Dauphin of France, Louis-Auguste, later Louis XVI, 1770
Like many eighteenth-century medals, this rare bronze medal commemorating the marriage of Marie Antoinette (1755-1793) to the Dauphin of France, Louis-Auguste, later Louis XVI, is modelled on Roman coins, with their portraits of Kings or Queens on the observe (front) and their allegorical representations on the reserve (back).
The observe features the relief of a juvenescent Marie Antoinette, only 14 years old at the time of her marriage to Louis-Auguste, later Louis XVI, in May 1770, and the reverse featuring the couple as allegorical figures: Louis-Auguste being Hymen (Hymenaios or Hymenaeus), a winged love god of marriage ceremonies in the Hellenistic religion, holding two garlands of flowers and lighting an altar with a burning torch, and Marie Antoinette, Concord pouring libations from a patera (or a phiale), symbolic of reverence, with one hand and holding a double cornucopia, symbolic of abundance, with the other. Above the allegorical love and religious figures is inscribed, “Concordia novo sanguinis nexu firmata. In the exergue inscribed “NVPT. CELEBR. VIEN. PROCVR. Ferdinando A. A. XIX April. MDCCLXX.", translated as “ harmony [between Austria and France] is strengthened by a new marital union, celebrated on 19 April 1770 in Vienna, Ferdinand Archduke of Austria.” The couple were married by proxy in Vienna, Marie Antoinette’s brother Ferdinand standing in for the dauphin before Marie Antoinette left Vienna for France.
This medal is a restrike of H.M.A. Vienna, 1914, by A. Widerman, who was the chief engraver at the Vienna Mint between 1769 and 1778. I have only seen one gold, three silvers, and one bronze (listed here) circulating for private collections in the last ten years, and the eighteenth-century strikes have virtually disappeared from the private market (no buying and selling records have been found). Part of the rarity is because many were destroyed or mutilated by Marie Antoinette’s haters. I have managed to find a late nineteenth-century (1890) description of this marriage medal, in gold, in American Journal of Numismatics, and I reprint it here for those who are interested. I have managed to find a late nineteenth-century (1890) description of this marriage medal, in gold, in American Journal of Numismatics, and I reprint it here for those who are interested.
Another article, “Relics of Marie Antoinette”, from The Lotus Magazine (Vol. 2, No. 7) dated in July 1911 (before the restrike) makes an interesting note about the medals of Marie Antoinette to suggest the cause of their rarity, though it does not specify which medals:
There is a complete collection, so far as is known, of the medals bearing the representation of Marie Antoinette and of Louis XVI; one in gold is unique; all are contemporary and genuine; in one to two places the medals have been intentionally mutilated by those who were in bitter opposition to the Queen, and these medals are regarded as of great rarity and peculiar interest. (Pages 218-219)
Another relic is a medal representing the execution of Marie Antoinette, and a scarlet “bloody” glass of the same; the glass medallion is of the kind that was carefully cherished by her supporters, but it has been mutilated intentionally by some one of the opposite party. (Page 219)
The medals of Marie Antoinette, including this restrike, have been rare to come by, and eagerly collected. Now is a chance for you to own a piece of the history of Marie Antoinette, a queen-to-be of tender age undergoing a rite-of-passage that would in the fullness of time make her bear one of the bloodiest crosses, as France turned callous at the dusk of a revolution drenched in blood.
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