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Tim B

French Maker's Marks / Hallmarks / Guarantee Stamps

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After discussing my latest Legion of Honor finds with Bison, and the challenges often presented when trying to research and identify the different stamps on these ODM's, I thought I would start a reference type thread on marks specifically. Perhaps, if we get enough interest and input from the various members here, we could turn a working thread into a "sticky" and/or clean up a finished thread and eventually pin it to the top for easy reference.

In the German areas of collecting, you have to be concerned with unscrupulous individuals that are lurking here on the forums to gain detailed information to incorporate into making better, more accurate fakes. However, the area of French ODM's is viewed differently. As Bison pointed out to me, these small, detailed marks are probably the utmost difficulty for fakers. Because of their size, they are not able to copy them easily and even if they succeeded in doing that, it is a far riskier endeavor for them because they in essence, are copying a state guarantee. This is a crime in France and is punishable by law in the same way that manufacturing fake money would be.

Pehaps another way to view this therefore is, the best way to jeopardize fakers, is to disseminate information about these little marks.

Anyway, I do not have a lot of answers on these marks personally and will need to rely on other's inputs as well but, I think we can get a good thread going here if we all chip in. I'll try to resize some PIC's later and start adding some as the day goes on. Feel free to comment and add any items of interest. If you know what the marks are and can describe what we are looking at, great! If not, and just want to know what something might be, post it and hopefully someone else can fill in the answers.

Looking forward to seeing inputs!!beer.gif

Tim

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Unfortunately, I have nothing to contribute, but would love to see such a topic. You could begin to fill the vast canyon of my ignorance.

Thanks,

Hugh

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I know... basic information to start, but there will be new collectors unfamiliar with French awards, so here goes.

Below (annotated in red) are some of the more common areas where you will find the marks on various Orders, Croix, and Medals. Look at the suspension rings where ribbons attach, or that part of the suspension where the ring attaches to the medal itself. Most common type medals are marked on the reverse. You can also find marks on the edges and of course, sometimes they are simply not marked at all.

Timcheers.gif

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A lot of my information came from other members and I want to give credit specifically to Bison for his assistance in the next part.

Most marks found on French ODM's are marks used exclusively by, and dedicated to private jewellers, and are evidence or indications of taxes paid. I'll include a couple of links to some online reference sites that show some examples, but most common are "guarantee" items like the head of a boar or eagle and indicate metal content. Other marks are the maker's hallmark that distingushes them from other manufacturers.

http://www.925-1000.com/

http://www.silvercollection.it/Frenchhallmarks.html

As there is no real format here, I will just start with a specific maker; in this case, I'll start with the official mark for Monnaie de Paris (Paris Mint). As you can see in the PIC below, the mark is that of a cornucopia and I've included a couple of PIC's showing that mark on actual items. The letters "BR" simply refer to the metal content, which in the cases below, indicate Bronze.

The hallmark of la Monnaie de Paris is both an official guarantee and a maker's one. That is why you will never find a cornucopia and another content or guarantee mark like the head of boar or eagle (or both) on the same piece. I'll show an example of this in the next post.

However, a part of the medal could be made by a private contractor for la Monnaie. In this case, one part is privately marked, and the other part is marked by La Monnaie. For example, it is the case for the 1st type of the 'Médaille Coloniale' which coin was punched with a cornucopia, and the beliere (I don't know if it is the right english word, but it is in French) was privately punched with 2 marks, a head of hoar (the hallmark) and a diamond with the symbols of the jeweller.

Moreover, when all the parts are made and assembled by La Monnaie, there are two cornucopias, as shown in the next post.

Tim

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This Knights Class Legion of Honor shows the double cornucopia indicating the whole medal was produced by Monnaie de Paris. Because the Paris Mint produced this piece in it's entirity, there are no other marks on the medal.

If you look closely, you will note a small letter "A" stamped on the cornucopia. This indicates the metal content and in this case, indicates silver. A= Argent

On other medals, you could find a "O" for Gold. Therefore, one should take the time to properly examine this kind of detail with a good loop or magnifying type lens, as the importanance will come out in the end!

Timcheers.gif

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Hi Tim

There are a lot marks from the Monnaie.

As a start, here is a cornucopia and a '1'. This mark is for Silver 950. It was used from circa 1906 up to 1972.

Another, with the double cornucopia, and you can see clearly the small 'A' on them, standing for ARGENT / Silver

Edited by Bison

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Another with '1*' standing for silver 925, used from 1973 to 1997. Some recent 'replacement' of old medals or bars are punched with this mark and sometimes, it is the only way to know that. We cannot say 'copy', because they are issued by the official manufacturer... but sometimes far later.

Edited by Bison

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... and sometimes, one can find the cornucopia without a small 'A' on it. Don't be afraid, it is silver. Why the 'A' is not present? I don't know...

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We find also the cornucopia with a '2'. This mark stands for silver 800 and was used from 1921 to 1997.

Single cornucopia:

Double cornucopia:

That's all folks for tonight.

Regards

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Bison,

Thank you for the excellent information and great PIC's for reference!!jumping.gif I was going to add more last night but, the site must have been down as I could not access GMIC at all.

Would anyone else want to add to the Monnaie marks before moving on to a different mark? Perhaps tonight or tomorrow we can move on if no other additions.

Timbeer.gif

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Another before shift:

A double cornucopia with "3", for gold 750:

We can find the same with "1" for gold 916 (or 920 but with cornucopias upside down, or a single one but after the "1"), and "2" for gold 840.

The difference with marks for silver is the letter "O" (OR = GOLD) graved on the cornucopia, but only for "1" and "2", because "3" doesn't exist for silver.

Yours

:whistle:

Edited by Bison

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beer.gif Can I make the assumption that the gold # 3 stamp is circa the same timeframe as the stamps utilizing the #'s 1 & 2 for silver pieces?

Tim

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Hi Tim

This a good point.



  1. Gold 920 ('1'cornucopia , or double reversed) = 1921 - 1997
  2. Gold 916 Single cornucopia without figure = 1880 - circa 1913
  3. Gold 916 (cornucopia '1' or double) = circa 1903 - 1997
  4. Gold 840 Cornucopia '2' (or double) = 1921 - 1997
  5. Gold 750 Cornucopia '3' (or double) = 1921 - 1997

All cornucopias with 'O' engraved, but for Gold 750.

From 1997, the mark has changed.

Yours

Bison

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Excellent!! This level of information will greatly assist collectors like myself that want to know specifically if an item is from a certain era and will help weed out those items that might be "claimed" to be something else.

Timcheers.gif

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Okay, just a last Monnaie example on a WWI Volunteer Combattant Cross. Not as worn down as most, but the flowers in the cornucopia just don't show up in the PIC.

Tim

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Hi Tim,

This is a good example of a Cornucopia + 'BR' for Bronze.

You can also find 'BRFL' or sometimes 'BRFLO' for Florentine bronze (a yellower colour 85% copper, 25% zinc)

During WWII, some medals and bars were struck with a cornucopia + 'MD' for 'Métaux divers' = Miscellaneous Metals... due to the lack of copper and others.

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Hi Bison,

Good to know that extra bit of info.

Well, there don't seem to be many players other than you and I at this point, so I think we may move on to the next maker? I am limited here, so how about AUCOC, as they seem to be a major player in the higher end awards?

As you already know...2014.gif I have recently found out that my cased Aucoc Legion of Honor is in fact complete with the medal also being stamped with the "Walking Wolf mark of George Aucoc. Not sure how often we see mis-matched items in the French area of collecting but, I see it happening often in the German and Japanese areas where cases are put together with medals and often not matched up correctly. So, here goes:

I'll start with a overall view of the piece in the marked case:

Tim

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This particular Legion of Honor is also stamped with a double headed "guarantee" mark, but I think we may wait until later to discuss these guarantee stamps, or even start a separate thread so we aren't mixing apples and oranges here.

Okay, so we see this "walking wolf" with the letters "G" (George) above and the "A" (Aucoc) below the wolf. But there are other marks for this maker as well as his father. I'll let Bison do the talking from here on this one.

Timcheers.gif

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Hi Bison,

Well, there don't seem to be many players other than you and I at this point, so I think we may move on to the next maker? I am limited here, so how about AUCOC, as they seem to be a major player in the higher end awards?

Tim

While you and Bison are the active players, I hope you know that there are many of us in the weeds watching, learning and taking notes. Thanks for your efforts.

Hugh

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Hi Hugh!

Yes, I know. Nothing wrong with that, I just hope other members that do have some of these will post their examples as well. The more variations of details we have to look at, the more complete reference we will have to use later.

Tim

Edited by Tim B

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I think that many people is interested in reading and understanding these small marks.

Unfortunately, there is no dedicated documentation to Orders, medals and decoration makers.

Before resuming this topic, I would like to inform you of the publication of a book at the end of the month about "La Médaille coloniale" - collector's guide. It is in french and you can find a lot of relevant information about marks and manufacturers.

I have the pleasure to contribute for a small part to it.

You can have a look on it here: http://editions.pb-co.fr/ and you could see some pages... and order it.

The author is a friend of mine and I recommend all collectors of French medals to have this book.

Yours

Bison

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