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Legion d'Honneur Awards from the First Empire

Napoleonic Wars First Empire

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#21 Jaybo

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 18:30

Gentlemen,
I have never seen such an example before (with the '1806' attachment). Can anyone elaborate on this practice? I have a Type 3 which occupies a prominent place in my study. Ist Empire LOHs is one of my favorite subjects in the field.
Jay

#22 Jaybo

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 18:37

As to the year 1806, Napoleon defeated Prussia in October of that year. He had previously defeated the combined Austrians & Russians at Austerlitz in December 1805. I fulfilled a longtime dream by visiting that battlefield this past September. It was truly awesome. Napoleon finally knocked out those stubborn Russians (and some remaining Prussians) in 1807.

#23 Bison

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 18:57

As everybody knows, Napoleon achieved decisive victory over the Austrians and Russians in 1806 February at Austerlitz.


I am afraid the Austerlitz Victory was on the 2nd December 1805...

Anyway, this superb Légion d'honneur is a clue of what the veterans used to do. It is not a common practice with the Légion d'honneur but this kind of things; bars, clasps, can be observed on the medals of the veteran societies (called "les débris de la Grande Armée") after the Empire. Probably, this is the date of the award. The owner wanted to show that he got it during the Napoleonic wars, as you rightly stated.

I cannot follow you on the comparison between Napoleon and Hitler... From my perspective this is exaggerated and overall a mere anachronism.

Regards
Bison

#24 WRANGEL

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 23:38

I agree with Bison regarding the "1806" attachment not being a period disk but a letter addition from a veteran of Napoleon's army whose intention was to point out the fact that he had got his LoH for war service and not for civil merit.

I had concentrate on the first cross, but looking at the the second, my feeling is that this cross is not a production of Martin-Guillaume Biennais as well, it does not reach the standard level of Biennais crosses.

Biennais was not specialised in orders, he was in the first place a cabinetmaker and then extended his business to silversmith and goldsmith but orders was something extra. Even if had 600 employees at a certain time, only a small % of them would be working on the orders.
The orders (LoH and orders from his brothers, as well as foreign orders) made by Biennais are extremely rare that is in my opinion because as they were exceptionnaly well made (look at the centers of a LoH made by Biennais most of them have the centers in 2 or 3 parts), they would cost 2 or 3 times -if not more- the average price of a LoH.
It is always the same thing, you can buy nowadays a leather bag by Hermes, but for the same price you can have 500 leather bags at H&M. It is up to you to decide what you want to do with your money and I think that at the time of Napoleon lots of people were reluctant paying a very high price for an order.
There is a similarity with the Russian orders, why are orders made by Faberge or some others less known makers so desirable and expensive, it is because they are extremely rare and that is because they were only made in a very limited number. The workmanship is superb, but as a result the price was only for some happy few. On the contrary Keibel and Edward had standardised the production, this resulted in far lower prices and therefor they had gained the vast majority of the customers.

I would adwise you to buy 2 excellent books in which you will be able to see numerous exemples of LoH made by Biennais. They are currently available on the internet.

Best regards

Bill

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#25 WRANGEL

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 23:40

This is the second book whom I was speaking about, it deals only with the LoH under the First French Empire.

Best regards.

Bill

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#26 garfordhouse

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Posted 19 December 2011 - 15:31

I would adwise you to buy 2 excellent books in which you will be able to see numerous exemples of LoH made by Biennais. They are currently available on the internet.


Many thanks for your additional commentary and opinions about the LdH from Ebay-France.

In light of these facts, I am astonished that an LdH Type IV of ordinary quality would sell for over 2600 Euros simply because a seller says it is a Biennais creation! In any case, the seller posted a picture which does not even clearly show the two hallmarks.

Are buyers this irresponsible and foolish... to spend this large sum of money without the proper research???

(Or maybe it sold for 2600 Euros because of the superb condition of the enamelwork. I do not know.)

Thanks also for the recommendations about the two reference books. I think anybody who wants to start a serious LdH collection needs to have the right books for such a complicated field of collecting.

Cheers...

Edited by garfordhouse, 19 December 2011 - 15:34 .


#27 garfordhouse

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Posted 20 December 2011 - 18:26

I cannot follow you on the comparison between Napoleon and Hitler... From my perspective this is exaggerated and overall a mere anachronism.

If you read my post carefully, then you will understand that I did NOT compare Napoleon to Hitler. What I said, and I quote:

"1806 was a high point for Napoleon, like 1940 was for Hitler."

Notice: the comparison was the SITUATION (political, military, economic, usw) in these two respective years.

Most members of this Forum will immediately understand what "1940" signifies. Military buffs are more "In Tune" with 20th Century references such as "1940 for Hitler" due to the tremendous interest most collectors have in the Third Reich.

Fewer people will immediately comprehend the significance of "1806 for Napoleon" without a long explanation. If one hears the expression "Nixon's Waterloo" no rational person will seriously think Nixon is being compared to Napoleon... correct?

I assume you are French. I understand why the French might get irritated if the names Napoleon and Hitler are used in the same sentence. There is still an underlying animosity that exists between the French and the Germans which many believe began when the French marched into Berlin in 1806 and humiliated the Prussians. Of course, the Germans delivered bigger humiliation to the French in 1871 and 1940 further exacerbating this animosity.

Historians much more knowledgable than me have written scholarly papers comparing Napoleon to Hitler over the last 6 decades. I can understand why the French might have a difficult time reading these with much degree of objectivity.

Edited by garfordhouse, 20 December 2011 - 18:38 .


#28 WRANGEL

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 00:15

Hello Gayfordhouse,

Sorry to disapoint you on one thing : THERE IS NO ANIMOSITY AT ALL BETWEEN THE FRENCH AND THE GERMAN. I can tell you that for sure since I am half-French and half-German. Of course if tomorrows "Die Mannschaft" beats "Les Bleus", French people won't be that much happy - and the other way is also true - but it won't arouse anti-germanic feelings in the French population. There are tons of young French studying in Germany and young Germans studying in France. XXth century is over, world has changed.
French have no animosity against British, in spite of Trafalgar, Elba, Saint-Helena, Fachoda, Dunkirk, Mers-el-Kebir, and so on. I would really recommend you to watch a Rugby match between France and England, you will see that supporters of both teams will end up after the match partying together no matter who wins.
Europe is no more only a continent, it is becoming a nation !

Yours sincerely

Bill

#29 Ulsterman

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 14:45

Hmmmmm...given the vitriol recently displayed over the fate of the Euro ("Frau Nein") perhaps there is some latent anti- Germanism about...but it's also a useful rhetorical tactic when one is trying to get Andrea to underwrite ones' debts.
I had NO idea that 2nd book even existed!
Many thanks.
Is there any sort of articles about the 'debris d' Grande Armee"? I have noticed odd bars etc. in some CDVs but they are rare- like the photos themselves.

#30 WRANGEL

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 21:28

Hello Ulsterman,

Yes there is a book on the "Debris de l'Armee Imperiale" written by Robert Moreau, published in 1987. This book is available on the web.

Yours sincerely.

Bill

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#31 Jaybo

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 23:45

Gentlemen,
Can one of you experten tell me why 1er Empire LOHs would be made in a 1/2 size? Was this something akin to the dress miniature versions? Also, isn't the Type iv in Garfordhouse's photo from Paris really a Type v made after in or after 1811? My references indicate that there were six total versions of the LOH made from 1802-1815 (Paul Willing's Musee de l'Armee volume 7). Is this not correct?
All the best,
Jay

#32 Jaybo

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 00:19

Colonel Paul Willing is French and an officer in the French Army (if he is still alive). He was the "Conservateur au musee de l'Armee" from 1977 until ?. He certainly was no neophyte. His book, printed in French in 1983, is part of an official series on the Army musum's collection of which I have volumes 6 & 7 (Napoleonic period). I highly recommend them if you can find them. On page 16 of volume 7, he not only notes that there were 6 modeles of the 1er Empire LOH, but has several photos of each modele from the museum's collection,
Now that Wrangel has educated me about the book "L'Insigne de L'Honneur de la Legion a l'Etoile 1802-15", I'll be adding that to my library as well.

#33 garfordhouse

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 04:07

In all my years I have never heard or read about anything other than 4 specific First Empire LdH models classified as Type I, Type ll, Type lll, and Type IV.

I have seen, heard about, and read about some rather bold deviations from the established designs... liberties taken by jewelers and the like. These are typically regarded as variations or interpretations.

I have seen, heard about, and read about examples that had mixed and matched parts salvaged or cannibalized from other examples making it difficult to classify in any one specific category.

It would be most useful if you could post pictures of the examples Col Willing calls Type V and Type VI.

Edited by garfordhouse, 17 February 2012 - 04:35 .


#34 Bison

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 18:04

I assume you are French. I understand why the French might get irritated if the names Napoleon and Hitler are used in the same sentence. There is still an underlying animosity that exists between the French and the Germans which many believe began when the French marched into Berlin in 1806 and humiliated the Prussians. Of course, the Germans delivered bigger humiliation to the French in 1871 and 1940 further exacerbating this animosity.

Historians much more knowledgable than me have written scholarly papers comparing Napoleon to Hitler over the last 6 decades. I can understand why the French might have a difficult time reading these with much degree of objectivity.


Hi Garfordhouse,
You are right (I am French). In terms of humiliation done or received we French have a very robust experience.
More seriously, I agree with you.
Anyway, a comparison between two distant historical periods or characters is always questionable or at least risky.

In all my years I have never heard or read about anything other than 4 specific First Empire LdH models classified as Type I, Type ll, Type lll, and Type IV.

I have seen, heard about, and read about some rather bold deviations from the established designs... liberties taken by jewelers and the like. These are typically regarded as variations or interpretations.

I have seen, heard about, and read about examples that had mixed and matched parts salvaged or cannibalized from other examples making it difficult to classify in any one specific category.

It would be most useful if you could post pictures of the examples Col Willing calls Type V and Type VI.


I fully concur.

I had the pleasure to meet in my young ages Col Paul Willing who was a very good friend of my father. He was a magnificent officer. He died in 2007.
He used to bear his decorations in a British style with overlapping ribbons, which is absolutely not the way in France. He was fascinated by the British army (where he was a liaison officer in the Royal Armoured School of Bovington in 1958 and appointed in London in 1963). He was wounded three times during WWII, once in 1943 and twice in 1944.
He was a lovely man and a great soldier.

I would be very curious also to see what are the V and VI types of the Légion d'honneur I have never heard about.

Regards
Bison

#35 Jaybo

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 19:12

Gentlemen,
I'll get my wife to help scan the photos of the 6 modeles from the late Colonel Willing's book that I referred to above (she is the more computer savy!). An unrelated question for Bison if I may. I'm jealous of your having met Colonel Willing. He seems that he would have been quite an interesting person to meet and have iscussions with. Have you ever heard of the late Colonel M. Dugue MacCarthy? He too was a French Army officer who I believed fought in 1940 and was wounded in action. I know so little about him other than he apparently was an expert on the French Army of the ancien regime period. My study is adorned with several of his magnificent ancien regime cavalry plates that he had printed in the late 1960's, early 1970's. Are you familiar with them?

#36 WRANGEL

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 22:19

Gentlemen,

Col. Willing might have been an excellent officer and a wondeful lad, he was not a phalerist. The reality is that the Museum of the Legion of Honor and eminent phalerists have determined 4 different types of the 1st Empire LoH and that's all.

Chears

Bill

#37 garfordhouse

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 16:49

Attached File  FJP Snapshot.jpg   49.61KB   10 downloads

I agree totally.

The Musee de la Grande Chancellerie de la Legion d'Honneur is the one and only authority to classify 1st Empire LdH awards.

Like I said before: There are many examples where jewelers took liberties with the established design of the award. There are many examples where the components were replaced with parts from other awards.

These are all variations, and nothing more!

This week a well-known auction house, F.J.P. Auctions, whose director is Jeffrey Floyd (a Club Host here at GMIC) sold a 1st Empire LdH which he names as "Type VI". A snapshot of the catalog description is seen above.

It would be wonderful if we could have Jeffrey post a picture of the award he sold and tell us what his basis was for calling this award a Type VI.

Edited by garfordhouse, 02 March 2012 - 17:09 .


#38 JBFloyd

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 21:53

I'll have to see if I have an image of the LoH in our 1 March sale. Nobody asked for one in this sale, so I'll have search my image data base to see if I have an eaerlier image.

In the absence of a definitive typology, I used Delande's types, so my description should have read "Delande Type VI".

#39 garfordhouse

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 16:52

I believe what Jeff Floyd is referring to in #38 above is:

"Décorations France et Colonies, edited by M. Delande" 1934, 104pp., with colour and black and white illustrations

M. Deland also published a 24 page booklet entitled: "Rubans et décorations: croix & médailles Françaises & Coloniales"

#40 garfordhouse

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 15:03

My sincere thanks to GMIC member "Jaybo's" wife (Madame Jaybo?) for scanning the two relevant pages of Colonel Paul Willing's much discussed publication.

I will now post, model-by-model, Colonel Willing's illustrations along with his remarks, and then all interested parties should contribute their remarks and opinions, please.

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Edited by garfordhouse, 07 March 2012 - 17:54 .






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