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Historical Medals - Coronation Medals

Until our current era, medals have always been worth exactly their weight in precious metal - just like coins. However, because of their rarity, beauty, and historical importance, medals rather than currency comprised the greater part of most advanced collections.

Royal Proclamation medals were usually crafted by celebrated artists of the era. They were often sculpted in high relief, in tiny mintages, to mark interesting and important historical events. A coin might be considered rare if only a few thousand were minted. A medal is rare if only a few hundred were minted.

Aesthetically, the main difference between Silver and Gold medals lies in the toning. Gold is inert. Gold medals have toning, but it is subtle. Silver is reactive. Silver medal toning can vary greatly from a dull grey to a spendid rainbow effect. And it is very difficult ot capture toning in photographs because the colors change dramatically according to the angle and intensity of light as it passes across the metal surface.

A beautivfully toned silver medal is often far more pleasing - and rare - than a perfectly preserved speccimen. However, it's most satisfying to find a medal that has both characteristics.



From the time of the Stuart kings through to Victoria, gold coronation medals were presented to the royal family and friends invited to the coronation ceremony. Silver medals were tossed to the members of parliament, judges and other dignitaries who lined the front rows of the coronation procession, as well as being handed out to esteemed servants of the Royal Household. Bronze medals were tossed to the rest of the rabble. Edward VII ended the practice of tossing medals as he thought it undignified to see judges and members of parliament diving on the ground to retrieve the precious metal.

James I struck only a silver coronation medal. Charles I was the first to have a very small number of coronation medals struck in gold. Master engraver Nicolas Briot who was mintmaster at Paris under Louis XIII later fled to England where he introduced the coin press to Charles I. He was appointed mintmaster from 1633-1641.

Regarding the medals at Charles I coronation: the diarist Samuel Pepys noted "And three times the King at Arms went to the three open places on the scaffold, and proclaimed, that if any one could show any reason why Charles Stewart should not be King of England, that now he should come and speak. And a Generall Pardon also was read by the Lord Chancellor, and meddalls flung up and down by my Lord Cornwallis, of silver, but I could not come by any."

During the English Civil War (1642-51) both the Parliamentary and Royalist factions commissioned medals to be given in recognition of soldierly valour. The gift of medals, a practise in Britain since the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603), was ritualized. Thomas Rawlins, a pupil of Briot, was appointed Chief Engraver at the Mint by Charles I in 1643and remained loyal to the king even after he had fled London.

In May 1643 Charles ordered a medal made which would be worn 'on the breast of every man who shall be certified under the hands of their Commanders-in-Chief to have done us faithful service in the forlorn hope'. It was also commanded 'that no soldier at anytime do sell nor any of our subjects presume to buy or wear any of these said badges other than they to whom we shall give the same'. The medal shown here, on which are depicted Charles and his wife Henrietta Maria, would also have been worn by a supporter of the royalist cause.

In 1661Charles II invited John Roettiers and his brother Joseph (and subsequently a third brother Philip) to join the British Royal Mint and by 1662 Roettiers was one of the mint's chief engravers. He produced the official coronation medals of James II (1685) and William and Mary (1689). He died in 1703 and was buried in the Tower.

Roettiers was widely credited as one of the best engravers ever employed at the English mint. Samuel Pepys declared his medals to be "some of the finest pieces of work, in embossed work, that I ever did see in my life" (Diary, 26 March 1666).

His sons James Roettiers (1663–1698) and Norbert Roettiers (1665–1727) were also famed engravers and medallists both in England and France.


Great Britain,  James I. 1603-1625.

AR coronation medal. 5.9 gm. 29 mm. n.d. (1603) Probably by Charles Anthony, chief engraver at the Roayl mInt.

James facing right, laureate; IAC I BRIT CÆ AVG HÆ CÆSA-RVM CÆ D. D. (James I, Caesar Augustus of Britain, Caesar the heir of the Caesars) / A lion rampant holding a torch on fire in his right paw and a wheatsheaf in his left; ECCE PHAOS, POPVLIQ' SALVS. (Behold the beacon and safety of the people). Eimer 80. MI I. 191:11. Wollaston 1. 

The first official coronation medal, which was passed out to attendees at the coronatioin ceremony. thus establishing the tradition..

Very rare, nicely toned and the finest graded to date. So many of the few existing specimens have been holed, soldered or edge filed to accomodate various forms of mounting.

PCGS graded AU 58.......sold

"And three times the king-at-arms went to the three open places on the scaffold and proclaimed that if any one could show any reason why Charles Stuart hould not be King of England, that now he should come and speak. And a general pardon also was read by the Lord Chancellor; and medals flung up and down by my Lord Conwallis—of silver; but I could not come by any." Samuel Pepys - April 23 1661

Great Britain, Charles I, (1625-1649)

The Scottish Coronation, silver medal, 30mm; 12..0 g (thicker flan) 1633, by Nicolas Briot, signed B on rev., crowned and draped bust left, wearing ornate lace collar, CAROLVS DG SCOTIÆ ANGLIÆ FR ET HIB REX, rev., a Scottish thistle in flower, HINC NOSTRÆ CREVERE ROSÆ, hence our roses have grown.(MI 266/60; Eim. 123; BMC [Jones] 155; Platt p. 133, type B; Woll. iii

ex Spink, 1976

Extremely high grade for this difficult issue. The only mint state example certified by either service and as such several grades higher than any other specimen..

PCGS MS 62...............$5000

Great Britain, Charles II (1660-1685)

Official silver Coronation Medal 1661, by Thomas Simon. 27 mm, (10.4g) Bust right, CAROLVS II. D:G: ANG. SCO. FR. ET. HI. REX./The king enthroned left, crowned by Peace, Eimer-221,

attractively toned

PCGS Graded MS 62.......sold

british coronation medal british coronation medal

Great Britain, James II, (1685-1701)

Official silver medal for the coronation, 1685, (17.9g) by John Roettiers, laureate armoured and draped bust r., rev. A. MILITARI. AD. REGIAM., laurel wreath upon cushion, above, a crown held by a hand issuing from heaven, in ex. INAVGVRAT.23.AP./1685, 34mm. Eimer 273; MI.605.5.

from a reported mintage of 800

attractive iridescent toning, rare in this condition

NGC graded MS61..............sold

Great Britain, William and Mary (1688-1694)

Coronation, 1689, official silver medal, 34mm (17.9gm) unsigned (by John Roettier), conjoined busts right, rev. Jove thunders against Phaeton (James II) who is falling from his chariot,. (E.312; MI.652, 25; Wollaston viii, ill.9)

John Evelyn was not impressed by this medal: 'the King and Queen's effigies inclining to one another, on one side, the Reverse Jupiter throwing a bolt at Phaeton, the Word [ie legend] which was but dull seeing they might have had something out of the poet [ie Virgil] something as apposite. The sculpture also very meane.' Diary 11 April 1689

from a reported mintage of 1200 - Very rare in this choice minr grade.

NGC MS 63.............................$4000

In 1696 Isaac Newton, considered to be amongst the world's greatest mathemeticians and scientists, moved to London to take over the post of Warden of the Royal Mint. With characteristic zeal Newton devoted himself to this position, reforming the coinage, establishing a gold standard, and going so far as to disguise himself and travel through the city bars and taverns in search of forgers whom he personally prosecuted by the hundreds. Newton determined the current mint master Henry Harris (successor to John Roettiers) to be incompetent and immediately hired famed German born engraver John Croker to take over all engraving duties, and Croker succeded Harris as mint master in 1704. In reward for excellence Newton conferred the privilege of making medals for private sale upon Croker in 1706, hence the plethora of medals commemorating the victories of Queen Anne during the war of spanish succession.

GREAT BRITAIN, Queen Anne (1702-1714)

Official silver Coronation Medal, 1702. 36mm. (18 gm) Attributed to John Croker - from a drawing by Godfrey Kneller. Obv. Draped bust l. with headband. ANNA • D : G : MAG : BR : FR : ET • HIB : REGINA, Rv. The Queen helmeted as Pallas hurls lightning at dissident factions potrayed as the Hydra, VICEM GERIT. ILLA. TONANTIS (she is the vice-regent of the Thunderer). in exergue, INAVGVRAT • XXIII • AP/MDCCII Wollaston 10, Eimer 390

Rare. From a reported mintage of 1200

NGC graded MS 62....... .....sold


Great Britain, George I. 1714-1727.

Official Gold Coronation Medal (22.20 g,) John Croker, engraver. Dated 20 October 1714. bust right; J. C. on truncation of arm GEORGIUS DG MAG BR. FR. ET HIB. REX / George enthroned right, holding scepter and globus, being crowned by Britannia standing left, holding shield and spear INAUGURAT XX OCT MDCCXIII. Hawkins pl. CXXXIX, 9; Eimer 470.

From a reported mintage of 1200

NGC Gaded AU 50................sold

british silver coronation medal british silver coronation medal

Great Britain, George II (1727-60)

Coronation, 1727, official silver medal 35mm by John Croker, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust left, signed IC on truncation, GEORGIUS II DG MAG BR. FR. ET HIB. REX rev.the king enthroned, crowned by Britannia, VOLENTES PER POPULOS . CORON. XI. OCTOB. MDCCXXVII, (E.510; MI. 479, 4; Wollaston xi, ill.12)

From a reported mintage of 800

Spectacularly toned, near gem, the finest graded.

NGC MS 64 + ..........................$5000

british silver coronation medal british silver coronation medal

Great Britain, George II (1727-60)

Coronation of Caroline, 1727, Official silver Medal 34mm (21.4 g.) by J Croker, bust of Caroline left, CAROLINA. D:G. MAG. BR. FR. ET. HIB. REGINA., rev Caroline standing facing between Religion and Britannia, HIC. AMOR HAC. PATRIA. (this my love, this my country), in exergue, CORON. XI. OCTOB. MDCCXXVII, (Eimer 512; MI ii 480/8).

From a reported mintage of 400, and very rare in this grade. With beautiful toning,

NGC Graded MS 63..................$3000


Great Britain, George III (1760-1820) (and the last King of America 1760-1776)

Coronation, 1761, Official silver medal by
L. Natter, 34mm, (24.45g)
laureate bust in armour right GEORGIUS III D.G. M. BRI. FR. ET. HIB. REX F.D. , rev. Britannia crowning George III, PATRIAE OVANTI. BHM 23; Eimer 694

From a reported mintage of 800.

beautiful iridescent toning.

NGC graded MS 61................sold

Another example of different obverse dies - and weight:
british silver coronation medallion british silver coronation medallion

Great Britain, George III (1760-1820)

Official Silver "Coronation of Charlotte" Medal, 1761. 34.5 mm; (17.4 gms.). Bust of Charlotte right, name and titles around. L.N.F. below bust. Reverse: Fame flying left crowns standing Queen Legend QVAESITVM. MERITIS above, coronation date in exergue. By L. Natter. Eimer-696; BHM-66

from a reported mintage of 400
Very rare in this grade

NGC Graded MS 62..................$2500

Great Britain, George IV, (1820-1830)

Proof official silver coronation medal, 1821, (18.8 g) by B. Pistrucci, laur. bust l., rev. king enthroned, crowned by Victory before him stand Britannia, Hibernia and Scotia (Eimer 1146)

From a reported mintage of 800

Beautifully Toned,

PCGS SP 64............................$3000

british silver coronation medallion british silver coronation medallion

Great Britain, William IV (1830-37)

AV official silver coronation medal, (21gms) 1831, by William Wyon, bare head of the King righ, rev. diademed bust of the Queen right (BHM 1475, Eimer 1251),

This medal bears the definitive Wyon portrait of William IV - used in subsequent coinage of Britain and British India

From a reported mintage of 1900
Beautiful deepiridescent tone

PCGS graded Sp 63............$2750


Great Britain, Victoria, 1837-1901.

Official Silver Coronation Medal (31.17 ), London, 1838, by B. Pistrucci. Victoria. Rev. Victoria seated left, with lion behind her to right, receiving crown from Britannia, Scotia and Hibernia. Brown 1801. Eimer 1315.

Spectacular example, only 1172 minted - so actually rarer than the gold example, and hard to find high grade, as the silver medals were tossed to officials (judges, politicians, officers etc) who lined the front rows of the coronation procession. The Morning Post reported that: "ribboned military officers and aldermen of the city of London were seen sprawled together and wrestling like schoolboys" at the general distribution of the coronation medals.

Tied with one other as the highest graded across both services, as such quite rare.

PCGS SP 64.......................

Great Britain, Victoria, 1837-1901.

Official silver Coronation Medal (21.7 g), London, 1838, by B. Pistrucci. Victoria. Rev. Victoria seated left, with lion behind her to right, receiving crown from Britannia, Scotia and Hibernia. Brown 1801. Eimer 1315.

from a reported mintage of 1172 -far rarer than originally thought, and rarer than the gold specimen.

PCGS SP 63.........................sold



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