2018 marks 100 years since the day the Allies of World War I and Germany signed an armistice for the cessation of all hostilities on the Western Front. This took effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918.
For this special centenary year we have worked closely with The Royal British Legion, including five veterans from Bravo 22 Company, as well as numismatic artist Michael Guilfoyle, to design a poignant Armistice Commemorative Medal for the Centenary.
Bravo 22 Company
Bravo 22 Company, which is made possible by The Royal British Legion and The Drive Project, has been successfully running theatre and art projects across the UK since 2011.
The projects are open to all members of the Armed Forces Community, including serving personnel, veterans and their family members and are designed to improve self-esteem, confidence and motivation, as well as help individuals along their paths to recovery.
The design process
The design process began with a creative workshop led by numismatic artist Michael Guilfoyle, at the Legion’s Pop In centre in Bristol. Five alumni from Bravo 22 Company were invited to join the workshop, all of whom have served in the Armed Forces. The participants were encouraged to draw on their experiences in the military to create a fitting tribute for the Armistice 100 year centenary anniversary.
Mike started the session with an introduction to medal design and explained the process from the initial ideas stage through to final production. Coins and medals generally offer a relatively small canvas to the artist, so Mike explained the importance of using a simple composition to create a strong and impactful design.
To generate some key themes, Mike had everyone write down words they associated with the First World War and Armistice. These were then used to inspire the visual design stage, where everyone began to sketch ideas.
The rest of the workshop was spent developing the rough sketches into more refined ideas.
The finished design
Taking inspiration from the original designs of the veterans, Mike was able to create the striking and poignant designs that feature on the medal.
The Royal British Legion 2018 Armistice Medal is available to own today. Due to its significance, the medal has been issued in partnership with The Royal British Legion and Bravo 22 Company. If you choose to own one, we will ensure a donation is made to them on your behalf.
With the Battle of Waterloo reaching its 200th Anniversary this year, I have come across some fascinating commemoratives which have been issued to mark the historic event. However, there was one in particular that really caught my eye and has an intriguing story behind it…
It all started in 1815 when The Royal Mint was commissioned by the Duke of Wellington to strike a medal honouring the leaders of the allied nations following the Battle of Waterloo.
The medal was to be of the grandest scale, finished with outstanding detail – a task perfectly suited to Royal Mint Chief Medalist Bendetto Pistrucci – whose proposed design was chosen from a shortlist.
Pistrucci was a masterful engraver with a mercurial personality. He had already completed a stunning design of St George and the Dragon (which famously still graces the Sovereign today). His design for the medal looked set to be one of the greatest ever undertaken…
But, there was a problem
Pistrucci was under the impression that Master of the Mint, William Wellsley-Pole, had promised him the position of Chief Engraver at the Royal Mint. However, as a result of politics and infighting at the Mint, it became apparent his ambitions would never be fulfilled.
In fact he soon recognised that once he had completed the Waterloo medal, The Royal Mint was sure to cut all ties with him. Determined not to let this happen, Pistrucci took his time, and prolonged the project – by 30 years.
By the time the dies were completed, all the intended recipients were dead, except for Wellington himself.
The end result was one of the most magnificent pieces of medallic art ever seen, but this wasn’t the end of the story. Pistrucci’s dies were so large and complicated that they proved impossible to harden and the medal that had taken three decades to complete was never even struck.
So the ill-fated Waterloo medal remains one of the most fascinating chapters in the history of The Royal Mint, and is still talked about to this day – despite the fact it never even made it to production!
Now the medal has been made…
Using the latest minting technology, a small batch of just 495 replica medals have been made for the anniversary year of The Battle of Waterloo. We still have some available if you’re interested, click here for details.
This year will mark the bi-centennial anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. But, despite Napoleon’s defeat taking place a distant 200 years ago, it seems that it is still a delicate subject for the French… or is it?
In March, Belgium planned to issue a €2 commemorative Waterloo coin in honour of the historic event. However, after 180,000 coins were minted with the design, France voiced such objection that Belgium destroyed the coins to avoid upsetting their neighboring country.
But earlier this week Belgium crushed the French resistance by invoking a little-known European Union rule. It allows countries to issue euro coins of their choice, provided they are in an irregular denomination – cue a new €2.50 coin – a first in Belgium.
The coin displays the Lion Hill memorial that marks the battle, with dotted-lines indicating the position of the troops when forces led by Britain and Prussia defeated Napoleon in the countryside near Brussels.
But, ironically, it was the French who issued one of the first Waterloo Commemoratives…
Remarkably, the French State Mint issued a Battle of Waterloo Medal after Napoleon’s defeat in 1815. It was designed for sale in the British market by renowned French sculptor Emile Rogat, depicting a fallen eagle on the reverse, symbolising the French Army.
The eagle is encircled by four vultures to represent the victorious British, Prussians, Austrians and Dutch and the obverse features an official effigy of Napoleon. It became a piece of history, stored in the British Museum.
It’s a great time for collectors during huge anniversaries such as this, as there are so many fascinating coins and commemoratives issued. But perhaps it’s time France looked back at their own history before they complain again!