44 mm (1.73”), 43 grams
HISTORY: This story has to begin with Jules-Clement Chaplain (1839–1909), a sculptor and one of France’s finest medalists. In fact, in 1877, he was named the official medalist of the French government, designing and engraving the gold coinage of France.
Roubaix is a city in northern France, for centuries famed for its textile industry. In 1889, École Nationale Des Arts, Industriels de Roubaix (National College of Arts and Textile Industries) opened as both a school and a museum. Although teaching arts, textiles, chemistry, dyeing, and weaving, they also taught engineering and architecture. The college continues to this day.
Sometime between the founding of École Nationale and 1898, Chaplain was commissioned to create a medal for the school’s high achievers. In all likelihood, the medal was struck at the opening of the school in 1889, since it also honors the architect Ferdinand Dutert (1845–1906). This medal is one of those examples; however, it was awarded in 1943! In its early years, the college possibly ordered hundreds of blank medals to be awarded throughout the years to come, engraved with each recipient’s name and academic achievement. A Chaplain medal must have been a highly prized award.
OBVERSE: “ÉCOLE NATIONALE DES ARTS, INDUSTRIELS DE ROUBAIX” encircles a standing, winged Eros on the left, with an olive branch resting across his shoulder, leaning on a scrolled shield emblazoned with the letters “RF” (possibly Roubaix, France). To the upper right is the Roubaix coat of arms, describing a five-point star between two bobbins, a wool card at the center, and a shuttle shown fesswise (horizontally) at the lower right. Beneath the coat of arms is the engraved name of the award recipient: “SEULIN, ANDRE, PERSPECTIVE, 1er PRIX, 1943.” To the lower left is the signature “J-C. CHAPLAIN.”
REVERSE: With the École Nationale des Arts building in the background, a woman (possibly an instructor) stands, facing a seated naked young man who is holding a drawing pad and pencil. In her right hand, she offers a poppy flower; in her left hand, she holds a weaving shuttle. On the ground are a few artists’ tools: a palette, mallet, and chisel. To the side and behind the woman, there is a large basket overflowing with cloth and loom parts, a beater, and a roller gear. In the exergue, beneath the floor, are the words “FERD DUTERT, ARCHITECT” (Charles Louis Ferdinand Dutert (1845–1906), designer of École National’s impressive structure). To the lower left is the signature “J-C. CHAPLAIN.”
EDGE: On the edge, below “J-C. CHAPLAIN,” is the word “BRONZE,” preceded by the Monnaie de Paris (Paris Mint) cornucopia mint mark. This mint mark (corne d’abondance) was used between 1880 and 1898.