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.
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
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.