Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Oxford Medals

Hawkins lists two early medals associated with the University. There is a medal commemorating Nicholas and Dorothy Wadham which is dated 1618. Wadham died in 1609 and left his fortune to endow a college at Oxford. The medal is said to have been struck after his wife’s death. A medal was struck to commemorate Thomas Bodley which is dated 1612 and was produced by a French medallist called Jean Warin. Bodley died in 1612 and founded the famous library in Oxford.

A silver medal was issued dated 1648 which appears in a number of sizes, both round and oval. This is known as the Oxford Memorial Medal. It was issued by the members of the University who had been ejected following the Parliamentary Visitation of 1648. The medal was cast with a loop to which ribbons were attached and scholars wore them in their hats. “Many good wits were ejected, which for want of improvement in an Academic way, were soon. After lost and drowned…But least their sufferings should stand unrecorded to posterity, hundreds of Silver and Brass medals were made…” All these early medals are rare.

There are also a number of University sporting, athletic and other medals, mainly issued in the Nineteenth Century.

In 1912 a medal was issued to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of the city of Oxford or more accurately the first appearance of Oxford in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle of 912. The medal was designed by Cecil Thomas and sold by Payne’s, the jewellers which business still exists. The medal was available in copper, white metal and silver. The design features Queen Aethelfleda and the Mayor of Oxford with the sun in splendour behind a view of the city on one side and on the reverse the old walled city. The obverse inscription is SIC M SIC M  M DEI GRATIA which means By the Grace of God as for 1000 years so for 2000 years.

Thomas had a long career as a designer and sculptor. The medal is misattributed in several texts as designed by Paget. The design is exceptionally striking and effective.

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