This tiny French book-style medal is a new addition to my collection. You can find these religious medals in many different forms - some open like a little purse, some flip up like a steno pad, but this one has hinges on the left like a real book and a latch on the right to keep it closed.
This type of medal usually has an embossed metal cover made of tin, so this one is a little unusual since it has a pretty gold and blue enamel cover. I've seen others like this one before, but never in such nice condition! Typically the enamel will be cracked, or, if the book is tin, the pictures will be missing out of the center or the latch will be broken.
So, what's the story in here? This little book is to be used for the stations of the cross. It has 14 tiny pictures with titles that go with each station. Book medals can also tell the life of a saint - particular favorites are St Therese the Little Flower and St Joan of Arc, or they could be used to illustrate a location such as the grotto and area around Lourdes, France. Occasionally they were used purely for publicity for a city, in which case it would show views and important places in the town.
The front is decorated with a slanted cross over cattails, which are a symbol of hope and rebirth. Below the cattails are the three nails used to nail Jesus to the cross. One for each and and one for both feet. The reverse has an embossed gold lily to represent purity and the Virgin Mary. It measures 1 x 3/4 inch, so if you're like me, you definitely need your reading glasses to enjoy the pictures!