Lot 1
  • 1

An interesting collection of Renaissance and later medals circa 1500 and later

4,000 - 6,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Lead
in a glazed display case (38cm. high by 190cm. long), each medal pierced and affixed to green baize; the arrangement of medals centred with a large lead medal of the Jewish physician Benjamin ben Eliau Be’er with Hebrew, Latin and Greek inscriptions and a Roman style portrait, dated on the reverse D.III.M (interpreted as either 1497 or 1503), 176mm; the other medals comprising eight large French lead uniface pieces depicting René de Birague (Chancellor of France), 195mm and Elizabeth of Austria (wife of Charles IX of France), 195mm, each attributed to Germain Pillon; Louis II of France, a restitution portrait, 172mm by an unknown medallist; Henry IV and Marie de Medici, 194mm, Henry IV alone, 195mm, Marie de Medici alone, 195mm and Pierre Jeannin (as Privy Councillor and Superintendant of Finances, 1618), 188mm by or attributed to Guillaume Dupré; and a portrait medal possibly of François de Guise, 192mm; two smaller Italian uniface lead medals by Pastorino of Girolama Sacrata, 1555, 66mm (this damaged) and Alberto Lollio, 1562, 66mm; two Italian bronze medals of Giovanni Boldù, 84mm and Antonio Tebaldeo, 74mm; and three French bronze medals by Claude Warin of Pierre Gassendi, 103mm, Giulio Romano, 101mm and Titian, 103mm.


For the medal of Benjamin ben Eliau Be’er see Armand II, 142, 16, Hill’s Corpus 878, Brettauer 302 and for a more recent discussion of it see Cecil Roth (ed.), Great Jewish Portraits in Metal … from the Samuel Friedenberg Collection, 1963, pp. 11-13; for the medals attributed to Germain Pillon see Mazerolle 237 and 241; for the two signed medals by Dupré see Mazerolle 643 and 683; for the medals by Pastorino see Attwood 520 and 609; for the Italian bronze medals see Hill’s Corpus, 420 and 617; and for the medals by Claude Warin see Rouhette & Tuzio, Médailles françaises des XV, XVI et XVII siècles, 2008, 108, 125 and 126.

Catalogue Note

Much has been written about the enigmatic medal of the physician named Benjamin, son of Eliau Be’er. His name in Hebrew is written as an acrostic and the form of the Roman date is ambiguous. The proposal that it relates in some way to the election of Pope Julius II in 1503 is no longer tenuous. The first known example of the medal (now in Paris) was excavated in Lyon in 1656 and Hill proposed that all other examples “seem to be made from the Paris example”. The group of large French lead uniface medals are mainly cast with outer frames and are later copies rather than contemporary with the dates of the sitters, possibly of the late 17th century or later still. It should be noted that the dimensions given include these outer frames. Apart from the small lead medal of Alberto Lollio by Pastorino which is contemporary, the other medals are later cast copies.