Wednesday, 18 April 2018

MEDDLING WITH MEDALS

Commemorative medals featuring Royal events aren't exactly rare, but you can still find some interesting ones.

On every Coronation, death or anniversary the souvenir hawkers would be out in force, producing all kinds of weird and wonderful items with the face of a Royal plonked on it.
And medals were no exception, as there are hundreds of different ones for every major event concerning a Royal.

So I've tried to pick out a few with a bit more about them.

First up is one from the 19th Century, celebrating Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897.




I love this medal, as not only is it 121-years-old, but I've always wondered just who actually wore it. Even the simple fact that it would have been someone living in the Victorian era is enough. 


This is one of thousands of souvenirs made, that presumed Edward would actually go through with his Coronation!!




Of course we now know that he did a bunk in December 1936 to be with Mrs Simpson, thus leaving many a memorabilia producer with a warehouse full of useless souvenirs!
But for us they remain a curio from history.


This is the outcome of all that kerfuffle – King George VI, instead of King Edward VIII
I can imagine the manic production of new souvenirs in the run-up to May 1937!!






Here we have a one called 'The King's Medal', which was given out by the London County Council to school kids who had behaved, actually attended school, or generally done ok throughout the year.



Originally dished out in 1887 as 'The Queen Victoria Medal', is was renamed 'The King Edward VII Medal' after Queen Vic's demise, but after tiring of the name changes when Edward popped off, wisely stuck with 'The King's Medal'!

This one has various Bars to the medal, meaning the pupil would have been excellent in each year and qualified for a medal each time. It also has the year 1914-15 on one of the Bars, telling us the pupil was at school during the First World War.




This is a really interesting one, a 1914 medal featuring the Belgian Royal Family.



It was produced to raise money for the children of soldiers killed in the Belgian army.
King Albert and his wife Elisabeth are featured on one side, with the dramatic line from Albert  "Before annihilating our army one must pass over my body" in both French and English on the reverse.




Belgium had been overrun by the German Army in the opening exchanges of the First World War and the Allies were only able to stop the advance on the Belgian and French border, thus creating the terrible trench warfare that would ensue.
This medal remains a powerful symbol of that traumatic time, and you can feel the desperation and defiance from that single line. 
Even the small, simple black, yellow and red ribbon representing the national flag feels poignant. 


So in amongst the tat it's possible to find meaningful medals with a real sense of the time and place they were produced in.
Remember to keep an eye out for them at antique fairs, flea markets and boot fairs, as they often crop up.

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