The City of London Medals
From 1832 to 1902, the Corporation of the City of London issued a series of thirty medals commemorating important events relating to the central area of London. Many of these high relief bronze pieces represent the finest work of the members of the Wyon dynasty of engravers and other British and European medalists of the period. Most were issued in a custom leather box with the covers gold-stamped; some have explanatory text printed on the silk interior. You haven’t lived (in a numismatic sense) until you’ve seen a Corporation of London box. Unfortunately, the heaviness of the medals, and the ordinary ravages of time, have conspired against the preservation of these boxes, so that they add $50-100 or more to the value of the medal. (An EMPTY box for the Ottoman Sultan’s medal once realized well over $500 on eBay!)
In the listings that follow, Welch numbers refer to the monumental study by Charles Welch, Librarian of the Corporation of London: Numismata Londinensia: Medals Struck by the Corporation of London to Commemorate Important Municipal Events, 1831 to 1893 (London, 1894). BHM references are to Laurence Brown, British Historical Medals, 1760-1960, 3 vols. (London, 1989-95), and Eimer references are to Christopher Eimer, British Commemorative Medals and their Values, 2nd ed. (London, 2010). Eimer prices each in VF and EF condition (presumably without the original box). “EF” means Not Quite Perfect, but near enough. Some of the catalog prices are high, but even more are too low.
Some of the pieces have been known to bring “irrationally exuberant” prices at auction. With typical mintage of 350-400 pieces, and with supply concentrated in England, these spectacular portrait medals of assorted monarchs are unfamiliar to many collectors. In some instances – even France!—there are no domestically produced portrait medals of equal artistry and size. In the January 2014 Stack’s-Bowers-Ponterio auction, the 1887 Victoria Jubilee issue (by Anton Scharff) realized $1,880! (We are asking less!!)
We are active buyers of these pieces.
Figure 1 City of London medals
In the listings that follow, Welch numbers refer to the monumental study by Charles Welch, Librarian of the Corporation of London: Numismata Londinensia: Medals Struck by the Corporation of London to Commemorate Important Municipal Events, 1831 to 1893 (London, 1894). BHM references are to Laurence Brown, British Historical Medals, 1760-1960, 3 vols. (London, 1989-95), and Eimer references are to Christopher Eimer, British Commemorative Medals and their Values, 2nd ed. (London, 2010).
Welch 2 Opening of the London Bridge, 1831, by Benjamin Wyon. Obverse: Arms of the City of London. Reverse: Bridge-House Estates badge. BHM 1545, Eimer 1247 (AE: £90, WM: £35). Bronze, 27 mm: Mint Condition, $135. White metal, 27 mm: abt. EF, brilliant, $75.
Welch 3 Passing of the Reform Bill, 1832, by Benjamin Wyon. Obverse: Britannia giving a scroll reading REFORM to Liberty; behind tablet with names Grey, Brougham, Althorp, and Russell and a portrait of William IV. Reverse: crown and arms of the City of London. BHM 1603, Eimer 1254 (£140). Bronze, 51 mm, Nearly Mint, $195.
Welch 4 Foundation of the City of London School, 1834, by Benjamin Wyon. Obverse: front of the school. Reverse: Knowledge seated instructing Youth; behind tablet with the name John Carpenter 1447 beneath the arms of the City of London. BHM 1680, Eimer 1279 (AR: £130, AE: £70). Silver, 58 mm; thin (4 mm) flan: Mint, nicely toned, $295. Bronze, 58 mm; thick (5 mm) flan: overall VF-EF, $110. Another bronze, Mint, $165.
Figure 2 City of London School medal by Wyon
Welch 7 Reception of the Emperor and Empress of the French at Guildhall, 1855, by Benjamin Wyon. Obverse: Bust of Napoleon III and Eugenia, ¾ left. Reverse: Britannia with lion behind, introducing France as Minerva with eagle behind to London as Tyche with shield with Arms of the City of London. BHM 2566, Eimer 1496 (VF: £170, EF: £320). Bronze, 77 mm, overall only VF, $250.
Welch 9 Entry of the Princess Alexandra into the City, 1863, by J. S. and A. B. Wyon. Obverse: bust of Alexandra, left. Reverse: London as Tyche welcomes Alexandra led by the Prince of Wales; to left is Hymen and to right Peace and Plenty. BHM 2783, Eimer 1561 (£170). Bronze, 77 mm; thin flan (5 mm) in ‘plain’ leather box inscribed on outside “RECEPTION OF THE PRINCESS ALEXANDRA MAR 1863”, EF, $325. Bronze, 77 mm; thick flan (7 mm) in damaged leather box with crest and long inscription on outside and Explanation of Reverse on inside, EF-Mint, attractive reddish highlights, $395. SOLD Welch 11 Opening of Blackfriars Bridge and the Holborn Valley Viaduct by Queen Victoria, 1869, by George G. Adams. Obverse: bust of Victoria, left. Reverse: wreaths with viaduct, above, and bridge, below, with arms of the City of London at center, flanked by figures of London as Tyche, left, and Britannia, right. BHM 2906, Eimer 1604 (£250). Bronze, 77 mm, EF, $395. SOLD
Welch 14 Visit of Czar Alexander II to London, 1874, by Charles Wiener. Obverse: bust of Alexander, left. Reverse: Czar and Londinia with angel behind. BHM 2981, Eimer 1634 (£500). Bronze, 77 mm in custom leather box. Box solid but top a bit faded, medal with reverse slight spotting, otherwise perfect. $1,000. SOLD
Figure 3 Visit of Czar Alexander to London by Wiener
Welch 15 Removal of Temple Bar, 1878, by C. H. and J. Mabey, executed by K. Taylor Foot and Tebay. Uniface medallion made from the lead of the gates, bearing an image of the arch. BHM 3051, Eimer 1658 (£475). Lead, 102 mm, within a brass ring with glass mount. The “key” to obtaining a complete set! One example with moderate ‘spotting’ (powdery white, characteristic of lead), $395. Another example with a fairly small glass chip, else choice, $550. SOLD
Figure 4 Removal of the Temple Bar medallion
Welch 17 Dedication of Epping Forest by Queen Victoria, 1882, by Charles Wiener. Obverse: bust of Victoria, left. Reverse: City of London as Tyche with broken fence addresses Victoria across a stream. BHM 3128, Eimer 1689 (VF: £120, EF: £220). Bronze, 75 mm; thick flan (7 mm), overall only VF, $195. SOLD
Welch 18 Opening of the New City of London School, 1882, by J. S. and A. B. Wyon. Obverse: jugate busts of the Prince and Princess of Wales. Reverse: view of the school, with arms of the Prince of Wales to left and of the City of London to right. BHM 3133, Eimer 1690 (£180). Bronze, 77 mm, EF or better, $325. SOLD
Welch 19 Opening of the New Council Chamber, 1884, by J. S. and A. B. Wyon. Obverse: interior of the Council Chamber. Reverse: London as Tyche standing addressing female figure representing Council, with figures of Commerce, Magistracy, Liberty, Liberality, and Learning. BHM 3177, Eimer 1705 (£140). Bronze, 77 mm, EF, $375. SOLD
Welch 20. Admission of Prince Albert Victor to the Freedom of the City of London, 1885, by George G. Adams. Obverse: bust, right. Reverse: Chamberlain shaking hands with the prince, with Lord Mayor behind flanked by the Princess and Prince of Wales. BHM 3182, Eimer 1717 (£170). Bronze, 77 mm. One example in custom leather box, EF or better, $350. Other example without box, VF-EF, $225.
Welch 21. Colonial and Indian Reception at the Guildhall, 1886, by Elkington and Company. Obverse: conjoined shields. Reverse: interior of the Guildhall. BHM 3214, Eimer 1726 (£190). Bronze, 77 mm, EF, $325. SOLD
Welch 22. Commemoration of the Jubilee of Queen Victoria, 1887, by Anton Scharff. Obverse, jugate busts, left, of young and old Victoria. Reverse: Britannia in a biga of lions, facing, flanked by Justice and Wisdom. BHM 3284, Eimer 1732 (£320). Bronze, 80 mm, in custom leather box (box in only Fair condition), ex Robert J. Myers Collection, EF, $495. SOLD
Welch 23. 700th Anniversary of the Mayoralty, 1889, by Alexander Kirkwood and son. Obverse: busts of Richard I and Victoria, with Saint George beneath. Reverse: City of London as Tyche seated receiving scepter from Saint Michael, with characteristic London buildings behind. BHM 3377, Eimer 1752 (£170 – rather low!). Bronze, 80 mm, in custom leather box (cover separated), better than EF, but rim knocked at 10:00 reverse, $300.
Welch 24. Reception of the Emperor of Germany, 1891, by Elkington and Company. Obverse: jugate busts of Wilhelm II and Augusta Victoria, right. Reverse: City of London as woman wearing helmet with dragon, standing, with Germania seated, lion in foreground. BHM 3412, Eimer 1768 (VF: £170, EF: $320). Bronze, 80 mm, VF+, $365.
Welch 25. Marriage of the Duke and Duchess of York, 1893, by George G. Adams. Obverse: jugate busts, left, Reverse: London as Tyche greeting couple with Cupid in biga. BHM 3452, Eimer 1780 (£170 – low!) . Bronze, 77 mm. One, about VF, $195; other ex Robert J. Myers Collection, EF, $325.
Welch 26. Reception of the King and Queen of Denmark, 1893, by Frank Bowcher. Obverse: jugate busts, right. Reverse: London as Tyche seated in front of Guildhall. BHM 3454, Eimer 1783 (£170). Bronze, 75 mm, in custom leather box. Two, both EF, each $295. SOLD
Figure 5 Reception of the King and Queen of Denmark medal
The Opening of the Tower Bridge, 1894, by Frank Bowcher. Obverse: busts of Princess of Wales, Victoria, and Prince of Wales, ¾ left. Reverse: Tower Bridge. BHM 3476, Eimer 1790. Bronze, 77 mm, in custom leather box. Ex Robert J. Myers Collection. SOLD
Figure 6 Tower Bridge medal by Bowcher
Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, 1897, by Frank Bowcher. Obverse: bust left. Reverse: Britannia as Minerva, seated, receiving figures of London as Tyche, Mercury, Agriculture, Industry, and Knowledge. BHM 3510, Eimer 1815 (£180). Bronze, 76 mm, EF, $375. SOLD
Return of City of London Volunteers from South Africa, 1900, by George Frampton. Obverse: London as Tyche receiving volunteer, flanked by 4 female figures blowing elephant horns. Reverse: Sun rising over hill bearing flags of Britain and Volunteers. BHM 3674, Eimer 1848 (£340). Bronze, 77 mm, in custom leather box, cover loose, medal Mint, $475. SOLD
Coronation Visit of Edward VII and Alexandra to the City of London, 1902, by Searle & Co. Obverse: jugate busts, left. Reverse: London as Tyche greeting King and Queen in front of Guildhall. BHM 3868, Eimer 1874 (£240). Bronze, 77 mm, in custom leather box, virtually Mint, $400. SOLD
Custom leather box from Welch 6, Opening of the Coal Exchange, 1849. A particularly elusive City of London box, $75.
Stock leather box of Wyon, London, with opening for 83 mm medal, i.e. the Coal Exchange medal. Plain cover, warped, will not quite close, $35.
For more information on these medals, or others in my stock, send me an email.