"1779"-Dated Revolutionary War Period, Benjamin Franklin Portrait, High-Relief Plaque in Cast Brass Metal, 160 mm, Uniface, by Jean-Baptiste Nini, Signed in text “Nini” Twice, Exceedingly Rare 6.29” (160 mm) diameter, France, Choice About Uncirculated.An exceedingly rare Bronze Plaque made by Jean-Baptiste Nini (Italian, Urbino 1717-1786 Chaumont-sur-Loire), Revolutionary War “1779” dated, measuring a large 6.29” (160 mm) diameter, with its original hanger attached at top reverse, as made in France in tribute to the popular American statesmen Benjamin Franklin. A somewhat similar design made in white stoneware and smaller in size is housed at the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum (The Met) on 5th Avenue in New York City, gifted there in 1901.
There are multiple differences to the current example, as the date on this Bronze is in large Roman numerals, not a small “1779” and here, Nini’s personal hallmark crest design is located under the bust of Franklin at right with his name in text within the metal below, plus a second faintly visible “NINI” also incuse in the metal below Franklin’s bust at left. Other than some light friction rub to the highpoints, this Plaque would grade Choice Mint. It is sharp in detail with no bumps or bruises, having high sharp rims and outer surround. The color is a lovely natural rich chestnut-brown with all details and its text appearing sharp and distinct. We have only located one somewhat similar, yet different example in Bronze, smaller measuring 5.8” (149 mm), which does not have Nini’s name on it anywhere, neither below the bust or near his hallmark design at left, and its rim designs are very different, than as on this currently offered Franklin Plaque.
Our consignor states this example came out of Europe. We wish to thank numismatic expert Alan Weinberg for his assistance in attribution, stating that he had never before encountered a similar example. Certainly, this a significant type most likely lacking in every collection, and vastly rarer than the standard Terra Cotta types. An important “Nini” type and an opportunity for Benjamin Franklin specialists.