Medals from English Exhibitions

Award Medals of The Great Exhibition of 1851 - London England

The official bronze prize medals

 
   
1851 Great Exhibition Prize MedalOfficial broze prize medal The Great Exhibition London England

The Great Exhibition, The Crystal Palace 1851, official bronze prize medal, rare variety, by Leonard Charles Wyon

Edge: engraved PRIZE MEDAL OF THE EXHIBITION GAUDET DU FRESNE CLASS XXIX Diameter: 77mm

Notes: This is the variety of the official exhibitor's prize medal which is signed in the reverse exergue LEONARD C WYON DES & SC ROYAL MINT LONDON, and no stop after LIGAVIT. Allen says that this is the type usually found in the presentation sets, so presumably this one "escaped" and was awarded in error. Mr Gaudet du Fresne appears to have been a 'feuillagiste' - creating imaginative displays from leaves.

 
Price Albert medalExhibitor medal Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations. MDCCCLL

The Great Exhibition, Crystal Palace 1851, official bronze Exhibitor’s medal by W Wyon

Obv: bust left of Albert, Prince Consort

Rev: dove on a globe within wreath, EXHIBITOR on ribbon across globe, EXHIBITION OF THE WORKS OF INDUSTRY OF ALL NATIONS around. An attractive portrait of Prince Albert; Diameter: AE45mm

Edge: engraved UNITED KINGDOM CLASSES 12 & 15 No.262

In 1851 Great Britain was arguably the leader of the industrial revolution and feeling very secure in that ideal. The Great Exhibition of 1851 in London was conceived to symbolize this industrial, military and economic superiority of Great Britain. more...
 

Official Medals

The Commissioners proposed that three medals of different size and design should be awarded as prizes. Bronze was selected as the most appropriate medium. It was also felt that they should be presented by Her Majesty. William Wyon was selected to produce a design containing both Queen Victoria and Prince Albert which would grace the obverse of the medal.

The exhibition was divided in to thirty different classes, with a separate jury appointed for each class. Each panel of Jurors was made up of an equal number of British and Foreign members. The Chairmen of each panel were formed into a Council. The original idea of having three prize medals was considered inappropriate in being able to distinguish between the quality of awards so the Council asked for one of the medals to be withdrawn. This was agreed by the Commissioners and this meant that there would be a medal available for presentation to the Jurors in recognition of their onerous task.

Of the two medals remaining for prizes, it was decided that the 77mm medal would be awarded by the juries when a standard of excellence had been reached for workmanship, beauty, utility and adaptability had been attained. The 89mm Council Medal would be reserved as a reward for remarkable invention, to be awarded by the Council Chairmen, on the recommendation of the juries.

The Commissioners report is vague regarding the other three official medals. Whilst it mentions 170 Council medals and 2,918 Prize medals, it states nothing about the Jurors medal, the 'Exhibitors' medal and the recognition 'For Services' medal. The latter two medals would appear to have been an afterthought.

Although the medals were issued in bronze, specimens are known to exist in other metals.Leslie Lewis Allen notes a pattern of the prize medal, unsigned, in a glazed frame. He also reports two Jurors medals in white metal and Laurence Brown reports a silver example of the Prize medal. Silver plated medals are also noted for the Prize, Exhibitor and and For Services medal, but these were plated later after inscription. more...


 

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