A 1755 French colonies jeton medal commemorating the battle that set the stage for the Seven Years’ War is now up for auction in Monaco.
MDC Monaco is offering the medal, which belongs to the Jean Lecompte Collection, as Lot 1361 of its Oct. 20-21 auction. Lecompte, a well-known specialist in French colonial numismatics and the author of the 2007 reference book, Monnaies et jetons des colonies française, will see the latest portion of his extensive collection cross the block across 161 lots.
Among the leading lots is the 1755 medal marking a battle – known to history as “the action of June 8, 1755” – in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, off the coast of Cape Ray, Nfld. A naval battle, it began with British “Admiral of the Blue” (a senior rank) Edward Boscawen engaging and then capturing the 64-gun Alcide and another third-rate French ship, the 22-gun Lys.
A third ship, the 22-gun Dauphin Royal, escaped to Louisbourg.
“France was alerted and sent 18 ships under the command of the squadron-chiefs Dubois de La Motte with reinforcement troops. Three armed vessels, four frigates and eleven ships of the line serving as troop transporters set out for Québec,” reads the auctioneer’s lot description.
“The English Royal Navy sent two fleets to intercept the French, led by vice-admiral Boscawen and Vice-Admiral Francis Holburne. After five hours of fighting, the French ships Alcide and the Lys lowered their flags. … Most of the French convoy managed to escape the British fleet. This deliberate aggression was an act of war. The British attack caused panic in Paris where the stock market collapsed because of the threat to Colonial trade. English propaganda reported a victory, however inglorious, since most of the French convoy passed safely.”
It took place early in the French and Indian War, which began a year earlier.
After capturing the ships, Boscawen and his crew discovered a document stating French troops would partner with Indigenous Acadians, creating a force of 8,000 men, to attack 3,000 British troops in nearby Halifax, N.S. About 10,000 scalping knives were also found in the ships’ holds, wrote Thomas Raddall in his 1948 book, Halifax, Warden of the North.
A year after the battle, Britain and France eventually declared war with one another, beginning the Seven Years’ War.
1755 JETON MEDAL
The 1755 jeton medal features Mercury on the obverse, standing on a shore with two seafaring vessels, one with the Irish flag and another with a French flag, seen from the rear in the background.
The obverse also features designer Peter Paul Werner’s “P. P. W.” initials with “SALVS IN FLVCTIBVS” around the top rim and “STATVS RERVM” in exergue.
On the reverse, a crowned allegory holds a sceptre while seated on a seahorse with a cornucopia at her feet. Opposite to her, an Indigenous person holds a bow and arrow. The phrase “SED MOTOS PRAESTAT COMPONERE FLVCTVS” is around the top rim with “SVB EXITVM ANNI MDCCLV” in exergue.
The medal is struck in silver with a weight of 14.54 grams and a 35-millimetre diameter. It’s certified as Mint State-62 by Professional Coin Grading Service—the finest graded example.
Bidding opens at 2,000 euros.
Other Lecompte Collection lots include Lots 155-185, 337, 366-369, 523, 684-685, 785-787, 822-825, 832, 924-925, 1060-1066, 1070-1077, 1089-1099, 1207-1220, 1227-1228, 1230-1232, 1267-1276, 1323-1325, 1348-1350, 1352 and 1361-1409.
The first part of Lecompte’s collection, the medals of the French colonies, crossed the block in Paris, France, in 2018.