Undated (circa 1890s) Benjamin Franklin Portrait Medallion. Fur Cap with Spectacles. By Émile Balon, after Jean-Baptiste Nini. Margolis-8, Greenslet GM-6, Betts-Unlisted. Terracotta. Nearly Mint State.89.0 mm; approximately 9.7 mm at the edge. 134.2 grams. Obverse with signature, NINI F, on truncation, left of coat of arms. To the right are remnants of the date, 1777, according to Margolis, but the marks here appear only as individual lines. No border or legend. Made with a suspension hole from the top edge through to the back, as on all seen, and here with a rudimentary wire hanger through it. <p><p>Rich reddish orange surfaces are uniform throughout and there is little handling of any kind. Only a single tiny chip is noted in the reverse edge, beneath the twisted wire hanger. A bit of adhesive residue remains at the central reverse. No cracks are seen.<p><p>A very attractive piece by ceramicist Émile Balon of Blois, France, and a type that seems to enjoy strong demand. It tends to command healthy prices on the rare occasions that it is offered, despite not being a product of Ninis moulds and ovens. According to Margolis, these aftercasts seem to have been made in the mid 1890s. Supporting this is an apparently unused mould that we sold in our March 2020 sale. It was of the same design, but of a larger size and scratched "Balon 1894" on the reverse. The first appearance Margolis was aware of for the type presented here was in the offerings of a prominent Parisian print seller, Godefroy Mayer, around 1901. Just two of these appear in our online archives, and they have realized wildly ranging prices from less than $500 for a cracked one, to $11,500 for the Ford Collection example, which later brought $2,640, in May 2019. This seems to be a better impression, as the Ford piece was all but missing the two lower buttons on Franklins coat.<p><p>Margolis proposed a chronology of the Nini works in organizing the results of his study. This medallion falls earlier in the numbering system than it temporally should in terms of its date of manufacture. However, as an aftercast of one of Ninis earlier types, Margolis-6, it is sensibly situated in the text based on the design and Ninis original intent. The original by Nini was called "probably unique" in the collection of the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Blois, as of 2015. <p><p>What is perhaps most remarkable about the Franklin medallions of Balon is that, a full century after Franklins passing and more than a century after he left France, it was the apparently accurate perception of a potter in Blois that there remained a market for such objects. This speaks to Franklins enduring legacy and fame.<strong>To view supplemental information and all items from the Sydney F. Martin Collection, click<a href="https://stacksbowers.com/sydney-f-martin-collection/"target=’_blank’> here.</a></strong>.From the Sydney F. Martin Collection. Earlier ex Anthony Terranova, November 2013.