France, Ville du Kremlin-Bicêtre medal, 1903

Started by aws22, September 02, 2016, 05:56:25 PM

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aws22

France, Ville du Kremlin-Bicêtre medal, 1903
Please help identify this medal.
Weight 17.44 gm   
Diameter 40 mm
Metal unknown
Lettering: Ville du Kremlin Bicêtre * Certificat d'études 1903 *

Maythem
Coin collecting has a curious name. It is also called the "Hobby of Kings".

Figleaf

Le Kremlin-Bicêtre is just on the South side of the Paris ring road. Around 1880-1914, it was fashionable for French towns to hand out such medals, mainly as sport prizes and for weddings. One side typically has the town coat of arms. The other side would often have a wreath of olive and the centre left empty, so that the winner could his or her name engraved on it. This medal looks like it has a wreath of grain (agriculture) and oak (strength). Maybe those who went to school in Le Kremlin-Bicêtre were mainly children of parents working in the agricultural sector, which I would expect to be market gardening.

This one is for passing the final exams of primary school, normally at age 11. Those who passed received their first school diploma, the certificat d'études primaires. This diploma was created when school was still voluntary, in 1866. In 1882, when school became compulsory for children between 6 and 13, the diploma gave the right to leave school from age 11. The diploma ceased to exist in 1989. The medal is not the diploma itself, but a reward for passing the exam and a souvenir of school days.

The arms of Le Kremlin-Bicêtre are attached. The upper part has a tower (a heraldic sign that often signifies a walled town) and two merlettes, heraldic female martlets, without beaks and legs. The significance of this element is lost in time. In France. it is said to be a mark of distinction for knight-crusaders. In Germany it is the mark of the fourth son of the ruler. In the Netherlands it is used mainly as a pun on family and geographical names like Cuyck (chick) or Maarle (martlet). The lower part of the arms have a stylised likeness of the Kremlin in Moscow.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

aws22

Thank you Peter, beautifully explained. Any idea what kind of metal is it made of, I do not think it is silver because it it too light for a 40 mm medal. Could it be aluminium?

Maythem
Coin collecting has a curious name. It is also called the "Hobby of Kings".

Figleaf

Looking at the medal again, it looks like there is something engraved in the centre of the wreath. Can it still be read?

One more thing on the weird name. Bicêtre is old french for bad luck, but here, it is a deformation of Winchester, after the palace some british cleric had built here ;) Le Kremlin was the name of an inn (it is not entirely clear if it was an inn, but it seems the most likely) that apparently had a pretty large sign with the lower part of the arms on it.

I would expect a sports medal to be silver, but a school medal may have been executed in a cheaper medal. In 1903, copper-nickel was already known as a mint metal, but aluminium, though it was known and used, was not...

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

aws22

#4
Thank you Peter for your useful comments.

Maythem
Coin collecting has a curious name. It is also called the "Hobby of Kings".