Silvered Bronze, AU
55 mm (2-1/8”), 70 grams
HISTORY: Electricity of France (EDF), founded in 1946, and Gas of France (GDF), a sister company created by the French government, were joined. Henri Dropsy (1885–1969), this medal’s designer, was at that time Professor of Medal Engraving at École des Beaux Arts in Paris. Dropsy retired in 1955 at the age of 75. Sometime during those nine years, between the formation of EDF-GDF and Dropsy’s retirement, he would have been commissioned to create this Médaille du Travail (Medal of Labour Power). The medal’s design is consistent with the style of those artistic times.
I have seen this medal being sold as a 20-year and 30-year service award, but that does not seem plausible. It is not likely that this medal would have been awarded in the 1960s and 1970s by an industry giant, the second largest electric utility in the world and a major builder of nuclear power plants. This old-fashioned medal would have had no meaning.
My assumption is that this medal was commissioned in the late 1940s or very early 1950s, with an unknown number of copies minted. Then, for several years, it was awarded to individuals for meritorious achievement. It was likely presented, for a few additional years, until supplies ran out. The energy industry was evolving so rapidly in those postwar years that this medal quickly became obsolete.
OBVERSE: Designed and signed by “H. DROPSY” (mid right), this high-relief image shows Satyr, the woodland god, kneeling before a fire. An Aladdin-style gas lantern hangs from a tree limb near his right hand. “ÉLECTRICITÉ DE FRANCE ET GAZ DE FRANCE” is written below.
REVERSE: A foreground view of electric transmission lines and gas storage tanks is shown against the distant vista of a mountain range. Beneath is a blank, horizontal panel for inscribing the name of an individual awarded this medal and framed by laurel leaves. This medal was presented to “MME C. BAIN.”