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Category: Exonumia



Bronze, UNC

59 mm (2-3/8”), 90 grams

HISTORY: Considered to be the war to end all wars, World War I began on July 28, 1914, sweeping across Europe and sucking in a fledging American military force. Few countries were prepared for such a large-scale war. New to warfare, Germany was building an impressive air force squadron of fighters, bombers, and trench strafers, but France answered the call and eventually overpowered the formidable German arsenal with air superiority of their own.

This war was also fought on the backs of hundreds of thousands of horses and mules. These animals carried the cavalries into battle and hauled the cooks, medics, and munitions. Tending to this herd were the farriers (blacksmiths), who kept the horses shod and battle-ready.

This was a war fought in the trenches. Army engineers were enlisted to design, construct, and maintain these trenches, which became home and protective defense for millions of fighting soldiers. These trenches were not simple ditches but rather very elaborate structures, and those who built them were vital to the victory in this historic European conflict, which ended on November 11, 1918.

OBVERSE: Maurice Delannoy (1885‒1972) was a highly regarded sculptor and medalist, having settled into the Art Deco style of that era. By 1940, Delannoy was already a well-established artist, having been awarded the Légion d’honneur in 1936 (see also M072 and M079). He created a beautifully Spartan design illustrating Marianne, the French icon of liberty and reason, bestowing a wreath upon the head of a young nude warrior. He is holding a spear in his left hand while resting his right hand upon his shield. To the lower right is the signature of “M. Delannoy.”

REVERSE: Delannoy has sculpted an array of military insignias interspersed with alternate oak and laurel sprigs. Clockwise from the top: aviation (signal corps), gunner (ordnance, grenadiers), artillery, navy, engineers (mechanics, trenchers), and farriers (blacksmith, cavalry). The center is blank, awaiting the name of a recipient for the medal award, encircled by “DEFENSE NATIONALE · PREPARATION MILITAIRE.”

EDGE: Smooth, engraved with the Paris Mint hallmark cornucopia followed by “BRONZE.”