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Pedro II Medal, 19th century

Medals (or plaques) like this were made in France to decorate pianos and furniture. They were made of Bois Durci, a composite plastic material based on Albumen, in this case obtained from blood from slaughterhouses, mixed with a filler of woodflour and molded in steel molds under heat and pressure. This material was patented in France in 1855 and was used until early 20th century.

Pedro II was the second Emperor of Brazil, ruling from 1831 to 1889. This medal was probably made in the 1860s, and is one of the first plastics objects made with a Brazilian theme or aimed to Brazilian market.

These medals pictured royalty from around the globe, musicians, politicians and religious icons.

It is 11cm in diameter.

To see a similar medal molded with other material:

to see other objects made of Bois Durci:


If you want to know more about this material and design, please visit the site of Bois Durci specialist Harold Mernick, Bois Durci Information Center and see his fantastic collection. Then go to the site of another Bois Durci specialist, Gaston Vermosen, and buy his amazing book on the subject.

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Taken on June 6, 2009