Antique French Medal Necklace

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An antique French medal, c. early 1900s, drops from a chain made from antique silver plated and chrome watch chain links.  The design is a silver laurel wreath (hallmarked on the front), 1.1" in diameter, wrapped around a central gold medallion bearing the left profile of Marianne, effigy of the French Republic. The central gold medallion is surrounded by a blue enamelled ring bearing the gilt inscription "RÉPUBLIQUE FRANÇAISE" and the date 1870.  The reverse side of the medallion bears the relief inscription on three lines "VALEUR ET DISPLINE," surrounded by a blue enamelled ring.

Atop the medal is a bronzed component in the design of a breastplate superimposed over crossed cannons, a naval anchor, sabres, swords and battle axes. 

Details and Materials

  • Silver medal is 1.1" in diameter; the bronzed top piece is 3/4" high
  • The medal drops 1 3/4" from the chain and can clasp shorter
  • Length is 18"
  • Sterling silver, swivel lobster closure
  • Weight is 1.5 oz

Origin Story

The medal was established as a French military decoration on January 22, 1852 by Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte and awarded to non-commissioned officers, officers and, exceptionally, general officers.

It is the third highest award of the French Republic, after the Légion d'Honneur, a civil and military order, and the Ordre de la Libération, a Second World War-only order. It is therefore the most senior entirely military active french decoration.

It was awarded to British and allied forces (allies of the French Empire) during the Crimean War of 1854-56 and to allied forces in the 1914-18 war. During the Second World War, the medal reached its highest numbers of foreign bestowals, most often to members of the British Army as well as to the United States military.