Rare Palladium Medalet Appears In January International Sale

A rare 15 millimeter, 1.4 gram Palladium medalet of 1824 appears as lot 2414 in the Stack’s Bowers Ponterio sale to be held at the New York International Numismatic Convention January 6-9. Designed by Paris Mint engraver Alexis Joseph Depaulis, it hails the accession to the French throne of King Charles X, Charles Philippe de France, Comte d’Artois, second brother of King Louis XVI. His coronation at Rheims followed a year later after the mourning period for his predecessor Louis XVIII. What makes this tiny medalet fascinating is that it is struck in the newly discovered precious metal called Palladium (chemical identification “Pd”), a member of the family of metals including platinum, osmium, rhodium, ruthenium and iridium. It is the least dense of its family and has the lowest melting point. Mined in South Africa, Montana, Canada and Russia, Palladium is used for catalytic converters and jewelry. It was discovered by William Hyde Wollaston in 1803 and named for the asteroid Pallas which honors the ancient Greek hero of that name, slain by the goddess Athena.

Coins have been struck in Palladium by Russia and Tonga, and past U.S. Mint Director Edmund Moy got authority to create an American Palladium bullion coinage that has yet to be struck. In 1824 it was rare and novel metal indeed, fit for a royal accession. The exquisite 37.5 x 37.4mm fitted case housing the piece is boldly gold-stamped MEDAILLE DE PALLADIUM. The obverse bears a bare head of the already elderly king facing left, the reverse displaying the royal crown over crossed scepter and Main de Justice, emblems of power and judgment claimed by the restored Bourbon kings. An autocrat at heart, Charles X soon suppressed key sections of the Charte or constitution granted by his worldly-wise brother, began censorship of newspapers, abolished the National Guard and placed severe limits of the legislature and cabinet. The response was “the three glorious days” of July 1830, a popular uprising that sent Charles X into exile, his throne usurped by his cousin Louis Philippe Duc d’Orleans, now proclaimed constitutional “King of the French” by Lafayette. The exiled monarch died in what was then Austria in 1836, recalled by many medals, few of which can boast the rarity of this Palladium accession commemorative.

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