medals

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Old envelop

Here is something special. It is an opened envelop that I fished out of a box of medieval archival remainders in the archives of the Dutch city of Maastricht. I was looking for unknown fragments of medieval manuscripts, while wading through piles of old binding materials like the stack shown in the lower image. The envelop appears to have been ripped open and in that state it remains. It is post-medieval and dates from the 19th century.

It is special for its original contents. Casual handwriting states what that was: a medal (“Médaille de Ste Hélène”) offered to one Gerard Timmermans, previously a soldier (“ancien. militaire”) in the army of “L’Empereur Napoléon I” - emperor Napoleon. The St Helene medal was offered by the later Napoleon III (d. 1871) to soldiers who had participated in the campaigns of Napoleon Bonaparte, veterans that were addressed as “Remnants of the Great Army”.

The envelop is really not supposed to exist anymore: it is a miracle that it was not thrown out. I like to think it was received with a shout of surprise, opened up and put aside, while the medal was fixed to the recipients coat. How great that that moment of joy is captured by an old envelop placed in a box of archival material, waiting for discovery.

Pic (my own): Maastricht, Regionaal Historisch Centrum,18.A Box 543 Varia. More about the (now lost) medal here (with a pic). This is the archive where I found it.