‘1664’ (Post-1880) Betts-40 French Indies Restrike Medal, SP65BN PCGS. 29.83 gm. Designed by Jean Mauger. Edge: Cornucopia, “bronze.” The Paris Mint privy mark or edge mark identifies this as a restrike from the 1880–1901 timeframe. Obv: LUDOVICUS XIIII | REX CHRISTIANISSIMUS. (Louis XIV, Most Christian King). Undraped bust of Louis XIV facing right. J. MAUGER F. at lower obv. Rev: JUGENDIS COMMERCIO GENTIBUS | SOCIETATES NEGOTIATORUM | IN UTRAMQUE INDIAM | MDCLXIV in exergue (The people united by commerce. The Societies of Merchants to Both Indies, 1664). Figure of Mercury stands with a caduceus and money bag (representing trade and commerce) behind. Bales of merchandise and blazing altar with banner, sailing ships in background, ready to transport goods to foreign ports.
The Betts medals are quite rare especially in silver, and even this bronze restrike is a treasure as a representative of one of the earliest issues. Ivory engraver and sculptor Jean Mauger (1648–1712) worked at the Paris Mint from 1685 until his death and was responsible for 250 of the 286 medals in the medallic history of “The Sun King” Louis XIV, published in 1702. Louis XIV’s reign of 72+ years was the longest recorded of any European monarch.
C. Wyllys Betts, original cataloger of American Colonial History Illustrated by Contemporary Medals, donated his extensive collection to Yale. He was a Yale graduate as is this writer; I treasure the memory of visiting, in 2013, the phenomenal Yale Art Museum and its vast, largely unheralded coin collection. I was privileged to discover C. Wyllys Betts’ own Libertas Americana silver medal downstairs in the Art Museum—an event that still gives me goosebumps when I think about it years later. Besides its immense historicity and provenance, it also was roughly a quarter-million dollars or so casually hanging on the wall behind a plexiglass case.
This Betts-40 restrike medal also features some of the most gorgeous original cabinet patina I have ever seen on a bronze or copper coin/medal.