France. Louis XIV. Felicitas Domus Augustae. Betts 75.
France. Louis XIV. Felicitas Domus Augustae. 1693. Obverse and reverse signed H.ROUSSEL.F. Betts 75. Silver. Essentially Uncirculated.
The First Size. 75.5 mm. 2,940.0 gns. Rims 4.6 - 5.1 mm thick. Plain edge. Struck medal turn. Obverse: bust right of Louis XIV. Reverse: bust of the Dauphin above named busts of his three children, date below. Lovely, rich coin silver gray in color with some faint blue iridescence on slightly reflective fields. Uniform edge width as on the gold specimen to follow. Die states earlier than those on the bronze seen previously, essentially identical to those on the gold example to follow. Accordingly, an original silver striking, contemporaneous with others struck for presentation to First Peoples in French North America. Thought to have been struck on a cast planchet but the cataloguer observes no compelling evidence for this. Planchet broken across edge at top of obverse. No evidence for or allowance made for a hanger. Given its necessarily early date of manufacture this is a remarkably well preserved specimen and one hopes its consequent rarity will be appreciated.
The first size Felicitas Domus Augustae in silver was occasionally presented to puissant representatives of First Nations by French commanders in Quebec and possibly in the field not long after the medal had been commissioned and struck in Paris. The number made in silver could not have been inconsequential since they were familiar enough to have recommended themselves as an anecdote for a Quebec hospital sister's correspondence (cf. AJN, April, 1877). Whatever number may have been presented in the late 17th and early 18th centuries seems not to have easily weathered the vagaries of ensuing fortunes. The overwhelming majority has been lost, being buried and forgotten along with their native recipients or surrendered during the turbulent history of the European wars of aggression and conquest that ravaged the northern part of the continent for nearly a century.
John J. Ford, Jr.'s collection lacked an original silver example of this medal. He could have had this one when it was offered by Sotheby's but when he learned that Mr. Adams was willing to defer his own interest in it in honor of their friendship Mr. Ford bought the medal and then turned it over to Mr. Adams as a reciprocal gesture of fraternal amity. Mr. Ford never found another original striking of this medal.
Ex Duke of Northumberland Collection, Sotheby's, April 9, 1992, Lot 500 via John J. Ford, Jr.