Gold medallions and coins proclaimed the glory of empires and kingdoms.
Louis XIV (1643-1715), 1643, gold medallion, 92.96 g, 50.9mm, on the obverse: "LVDOVICVS.XIIII.D.G.FR.ET.NAV.REX", draped bust in armour of Louis XIV bareheaded with long curling hair, from the right, with the Cross of the Order of the Holy Spirit; on the back: "ANNA.D.G.-FR.ET.NAV.REG.", veiled draped bust of Anne of Austria from the right, with long hair falling over her shoulders, engraved by Jean Varin (unsigned).
All the ingredients were present to ensure that this fine selection numismatics struck a chord and opened the purse strings of the most demanding collectors. And the results were up to the mark, as the sale ended with a total of €1,850,063, with two pieces reaching stratospheric heights. Firstly, this 4.5 soldi gold medallion struck in Trier, Germany, between 376 and 378 C.E., whose result, €201,540, set a world record according to expert Thierry Parsy. It is the fifth known example of this antique coin, evidence of the presence of the vast Roman Empire in this strategic city, which was once an imperial seat. However, it yielded its first step on the podium to another rarity, a gold medallion produced to celebrate the accession of the boy king, Louis XIV. This medallion was produced in 1643: when young Louis XIV was not yet five when his father Louis XIII died suddenly on 14 May. His ascension to the throne began the longest reign in France's history, one which led the French kingdom to military, artistic and economic dominance in 17th-century Europe. Everything seems to presage this in the calmly determined profile of the young Bourbon monarch. Although the model is well-known (on the obverse: Louis XIV in profile, bareheaded with long curling hair looking to the right; on the back: the veiled, draped bust of Anne of Austria), it is mostly listed in its silver version – the one presented to numerous courtiers and ambassadors. The gold version was reserved for a privileged few, so the examples that escaped being melted down are extremely rare. It was no surprise, then, that it obtained €204,160 – a glittering performance, indeed.