What comes next? You've been freed. Do you know how hard it is to lead?
1801(03) Spain Droz Fraud Medal Skinner Collection





Coin Details

Item Description: BRONZE 1801-DATED SPAIN BRAMSEN-187 CHARLES IV & MARIE LOUISE Skinner Collection
Full Grade: NGC AU 55 BN
Owner: coinsandmedals

Set Details

Custom Sets: What comes next? You've been freed. Do you know how hard it is to lead?
Competitive Sets: This coin is not competing in any sets.
Research: NGC Coin Explorer

Owner Comments:

Let me start by saying that this is NOT a product of the Soho Mint, but it has been included in the set because it tells an important part of Soho's history. This medal was designed and engraved by the troublesome artist Jean Pierre Droz. I strongly encourage you to read the section entitled "Soho's Formative Years" for more relevant contextual information for those of you who have not read the entire write-up provided in the set description. For a good reason, Boulton became increasingly fed-up with Droz, and upon his dismissal from the Soho Mint, he found employment at the Paris Mint, which is where this medal was struck. Seemingly more discontent with how things ended with Boulton and seeming to lack any moral compass, Droz started to make an effort to lay claim to some of the achievements Boulton had made. This is painfully clear in the paper he presented to the Napoleonic National Institute in 1802. I will forgo any detailed examination here, but those interested should consult Pollard (1968) for a concise summary. This no doubt angered Boulton, but the final blow would come when Droz circulated this medal. Although dated 1801, this medal was supposedly struck in 1803. At the time, the Paris Mint sought to secure a contract to strike coinage for Spain, and this medal was intended to serve as both an advertisement and a warning (Pollard, 1970). Within the inscriptions, Droz claims that he invented the method of multiplying dies, which is a jab at our friend Matthew Boulton. You see, although Droz promised to complete and perfect this work while under Boulton's employment, he never did. The arbitration documents made available clearly show that Droz failed to do so even by his own account. Yet here he is trying to take claim for Boulton's work and freely circulating his lies around Europe. Boulton would eventually issue a medal of his in response in French. As my friend Bill McKivor likes to point out, Droz and Boulton argued in three languages on medals distributed throughout Europe.

Obverse: The obverse design is rather pleasing with the conjoined busts of Charles IV and Marie Louise. Charles IV's hair is adorned with a laurel wreath of 14 leaves and 11 berries and is tied behind the neck with a ribbon of one bow and two loose ends. The top loose end points outward while the bottom loose end points downward. Hair curls occur both above and below the truncation of the bust. In between the lowest curl of hair and the tip of the bust, the initials M. G. S. appear. Marie's bust is conjoined with Charles IV's at the right. Her hair is adorned with a simplistic tiara decorated with eight circular gems. Several tufts of tightly curled hair occur above and below the tiara. A large, tightly formed hair curl appears on her right shoulder, and a loosely formed hair curl rests on her left breast—several indistinguishable marks depict the design of her dress. The legend "UNION AUGUST" occurs above the conjoined busts. A rather large raised flaw appears in the field parallel to the bow behind Charles IV's neck. The obverse design is contained within a toothed border and a thin raised rim.

Reverse: The reverse design is devoid of any design and is entirely constructed with two legends in Spanish. The central legend occurs in the field in a noticeably larger font. It reads "EVITANDO EL FRAUDE DILACION Y GASTOS IDENTIFICA LOS SIGNOS" which roughly translates to "AVOID FRAUD, DELAY AND EXPENSES, IDENTIFY THE SIGNS". A thin, raised circle separates the second legend from the first. The former is wrapped tightly around this circle. It reads "J · P · DROZ INVENTOR DEL METODO DE MULTIPLICAR LOS TROQUELES" which roughly translates to "J · P · DROZ INVENTOR OF THE METHOD OF MULTIPLYING THE DIES". The date "1801" occurs within the same legend at the bottom surrounded by a star on either side. This legend is sandwiched between the inner raised circle and the outer beaded border, which is then contained within the thin raised rim.

Edge: ACUÑA SUPERFICIE Y CANTO A UN SOLO GOLPE (coin surface and edge lettering with a single strike)

Notes:The history behind this piece is pretty neat. I stumbled upon this medal on eBay before I truly understood its significance. At the time, I had just purchased my first Soho Piece (i.e., the P-945 pattern halfpenny) and was doing some research on Droz. It wasn't until I started reading about the bad blood between Boulton and Droz that the context of this medal became clear. These seem to be coming up for sale more frequently than I remember in years past and are relatively affordable. I intend to find a nice uncirculated example eventually, but I am in no rush. Of more importance to me is securing an example of the medal Boulton produced in response. Either medal alone is rather impressive, but it takes both to tell the entire story. Maybe at some point, I will be lucky enough to add one to my collection.

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