Tag Archives: photographing silver

More Coins plus a King, an Emperor and a Beautiful Design

I’m desperately racking my brains for something interesting to say. The fact that I have moved on from the coins of 19th Century Spain to the coins of 19th Century France may not be the subject I need. It was an interesting time – they restored the monarchy, then had a revolution and moved on to a new King. Then they had a revolution and tried a republic again, because that had worked out well last time they tried it, and the president, who was also a Bonaparte, seized power, declared himself Emperor, then lost power after a war with the Germans – the first of a three match series that would eventually lay waste to most of Europe.

Louis Philippe

Louis Philippe, who was King from 1830-48 has the profile of a rugby player, specifically one from the second row, and Louis Napoleon has an excellent beard so, despite a number of deficiencies in governance, they did at least look like they were destined to rule. Unlike the rather underwhelming Spanish monarchs.

I have cured the colour problem for now – the camera is now set for tungsten bulbs and despite us using fluorescent tubes. This gives a blue cast which is what you need for silver.

Louis Napoleon before his Imperial ambitions bore fruit . . .

. . . and after

There is a version of the coin with Emperor title and no wreath, but I thought enough was enough. The penultimate coin has a fine portrait on it, and was minted in 1849-51. It is Ceres, according to the books, which makes sense as she has lots of grain in the design. Why Ceres and not Marianne, I don’t know. They decided to do away with that and stick a group of nondescript figures on it, a design that demonstrates that change is not the same as improvement. I only include the final coin to demonstrate the slide to mediocrity, as the republican head represents the peak of the design for me.

A lovely portrait


It’s Hercules, but it’s also The Triumph of Mediocrity