Diameter: 78.000 mm
Gift of the Royal Mint
Room 47: Europe 1800-1900
Bronze medal celebrating the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, by Leonard Wyon after Sir Frederic Leighton and Sir Edgar Boehm
The Queens' Jubilee
The artist Frederic Leighton (1830-96) was made a baronet in 1886, and President of the Royal Academy from 1878. In 1886 he was chosen by the Royal Mint to make a design for the reverse of a medal commemorating Queen Victoria's fiftieth year on the throne. The dies were to be engraved from Leighton's own three-dimensional model using a reducing machine.
Leighton started by making careful preliminary studies for the figures chosen to symbolize the virtues of Victoria's rule (one of these drawings, of a nude Industry, is now in British Museum). In the centre a figure representing the British Empire is enthroned, with a lion to her right. At her feet lies Mercury, the god of Commerce. Flanking Empire are the personified elements of her greatness: on her left, Industry and Agriculture, and on her right, Science, Letters and Art. The Queen's portrait was designed by Joseph Edgar Boehm (1834-90), the British sculptor and medallist.
The medal was issued between July 1887 and February 1889. The gold and silver medals were struck at the Mint itself, but due to the huge demand, the rest were subcontracted to Messrs Ralph Heaton of Birmingham. They were sold, in fine red leather cases, for £13.13.0 (gold), £2.2.0 (silver) and ten shillings and sixpence (bronze). An enormous number were sold: 944 in gold, 2289 in silver and an incredible 4257 in bronze.