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Vue de l'Atelier des médailles - © Monnaie de Paris | Jean-Marc Martin
Découpe des flans de médaille - © Monnaie de Paris | Jean-Marc Martin

Preparing the blanks

Until 1973, alloys were made at Quai de Conti. Nowadays, gold and silver, Florentine bronze, coin bronze and copper-based metals arrive as sheets or rolls. The Medals Workshop artisans choose the alloy and thickness of the blank based on the shape of the medal or decoration, the press to be used, the motif and the depth of engraving.
The blanks are then cut, rimmed and, lastly, annealed. They are then ready to be struck.

Seaux avec des flans en bronze découpés - © Monnaie de Paris | Jean-Marc Martin
Balancier pour la frappe de médailles dans les années 30 - © Monnaie de Paris

Stamping: the art of minting medals

The medal minter transforms a blank into a medal or civil or military decoration, alternating between striking to bring out the relief and annealing to return the metal to a more malleable state. The blank is struck as many times as necessary, depending on the diameter, depth and detail of the engraving. Finally, surface treatments are applied to enhance the finished piece

Estampage d'une médaille Astérix - © Monnaie de Paris | Jean-Marc Martin
Frappe de décorations Palmes académiques - © Monnaie de Paris | Jean-Marc Martin
Patine à la brosse d'une médaille - © Monnaie de Paris | Jean-Marc Martin
Patine spéciale à la pierre ponce pilée et au doigt d'une médaille - © Monnaie de Paris | Jean-Marc Martin
Patine spéciale à la main d'une médaille - © Monnaie de Paris | Jean-Marc Martin

Adding colour and accentuating the relief: yet another area of craftsmanship!

After being stamped, the medal is trimmed (to remove the flash - the unwanted excess), rubbed in sand, sometimes gilded with gold or silver, then polished or patinated.
Patina, a colour produced by oxidation, protects and enhances the motif. Two patination techniques exist, one mechanical, the other manual; the latter is used to create special patinas. Each relief is brightened with a brush, scraper, cloth, sponge or cork.  Lastly, a coat of varnish is applied to the medal.