Jurors Medal for the Great Exhibition of 1851 thumbnail 1
Jurors Medal for the Great Exhibition of 1851 thumbnail 2
+1
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the National Art Library

Jurors Medal for the Great Exhibition of 1851

Medal
1851 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The Jurors’ Medal is one of five official award medals designed for the Exhibition of The Works of Industry of all Nations, known as the ‘Great Exhibition’. It was presented to each member of an extensive Jury system set up by the Royal Commission for the Great Exhibition of 1851 to judge all the exhibits displayed in the Crystal Palace at Hyde Park. From 17,000 Exhibitors, the Jurymen selected the Prize Medal winners and those who should receive an Honourable Mention, and also recommended Exhibitors for the prestigious Council Medal.

The Jury Groups were also responsible for writing extensive Juries Reports on the exhibits, a significant undertaking in itself. The Commissioners chose to reward them with their own medal in recognition of their Herculean labours.

This example belongs to a leather bound presentation set of seven medals given to Henry Cole, all inscribed with his name around the edge. Henry Cole was Prince Albert’s chief advisor for the Great Exhibition and was involved in all aspects of its concept and execution.






object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Brief Description
Medal, Jurors Medal for the Great Exhibition of 1851 depicting Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, inscribed to Henry Cole, struck bronze, by William Wyon and George Gammon Adams, London, 1851
Physical Description
Bronze medal with obverse depicting conjoined profile busts of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, facing left. Two dolphins sit below the busts and a trident to the right. Victoria wears a laurel and jewellery. Beading decorates the rim.



On the reverse a Neo-classical scene with three draped female personifications. Industry sits bare-breasted on a cornucopia, holding a distaff; Commerce stands behind with a hand on her shoulder whilst the winged Fame crowns her with a laurel wreath. A lion lies behind Fame, a globe and the prow of a ship behind commerce.
Dimensions
  • Diameter: 54mm
Production typeLimited edition
Marks and Inscriptions
'PRESENTATION JURORS MEDAL OF THE EXHIBITION. HENRY COLE, EXECUTIVE. COMMITTEE' (Inscribed around the edge of this medal)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Sir Henry Cole K.C.B.
Object history
The Jurors’ Medal was the third largest official medal struck for The Exhibition of The Works of Industry of all Nations, known as the ‘Great Exhibition’. It was presented to each member of an extensive Jury system set up by the Royal Commission for the Great Exhibition of 1851 to assess all the exhibits displayed in the Crystal Palace at Hyde Park. The Great Exhibition was split into four main groups of exhibits reflecting the different stages of industrial production: Raw Materials; Machinery; Manufactures and Fine Art. From around 17,000 Exhibitors, the Jurymen selected the Prize Medal winners and those who should receive an Honourable Mention, and also recommended exhibitors for the prestigious Council Medal.



In his introduction to the ‘Reports by the Juries on the subjects in the thirty classes into which the Exhibition was divided ’, Viscount Canning claims that, of the ca. 17000 Exhibitors, many contributed a large variety of objects; overall the task of the juries had therefore required ‘The consideration and judgement of at least a million articles, the difficulties attending it being not a little increased by the lack of a uniform system of classification of the subjects in some of the foreign divisions, and by unavoidable imperfections in the catalogue.’



The Prize awards were a central and much debated element of the whole Great Exhibition enterprise. The Royal Commission paid considerable attention to the appointment and direction of the specialist Juries, and an elaborate system was established. The award decisions were brought before their Jury ‘Groups’ of related subject sections, and the Council of Chairmen of the Juries, who attended meetings and advised on the award principles established where clarification or guidance was needed, but did not have authority in awarding the Prize Medals. It is clear in statements from the Commissioners Report and the Reports of the Juries that a rigorous and impartial system of prize awards for exhibits, based on merit, was considered very important, and a great deal of work was put in to ensure it was as visibly fair as possible. This was key to establishing the value and prestige of the prize awards in the public view, and to reflecting the ideals in manufacturing and design progress encouraged by the Exhibition. The Commissioners ensured half the Juries were from the foreign countries contributing exhibits, thereby validating the international claims for an Exhibition in which half the exhibitors were from foreign countries and a significant proportion of the British exhibits were colonial.



Medals were awarded following the closure of the Exhibition in October 1851(delays in the medal production and report publishing meant many were actually distributed in 1852). Each juror also received a personal letter of thanks from Prince Albert as President of the Royal Commission, a certificate illustrated with detailed decoration and engravings of the medal design, and an octavo (small) copy of the Juries’ Reports. The Juries had undertaken the production of these detailed reports on the exhibits and prize awards, and the publication of the collated reports was a huge undertaking in itself, and it is the best illustration of the significant part the Juries played in validating the Great Exhibition and fulfilling its aims. According to one contemporary article in Fraser’s magazine, which is highly critical of the whole prize system for the exhibition, and disappointed in the content of the official catalogue, the Reports of the Juries ‘constitute[d] the literary memorial of the exhibition’. In addition to publicly commending the winning exhibits, the reports were motivated by the desire to make use of the Juries’ considerable specialist knowledge and expertise:



‘As the juries were, for the most part, composed of men of eminence in various branches of Art and Science, the Commissioners were anxious that the opportunity should be taken of obtaining from them such reports…as might form interesting and valuable records of the existing state of industry and knowledge as indicated by this display of the Productions of the World.’



The number of Juror’s Medals distributed by the time of the Supplement to the Commissioners first report in February 1853 was recorded as 2,780, though this seems to far exceed the known number of Jurors, which was under 400 even allowing for associate members brought in for their specialist expertise, and allowing for the versions of the Jurors Medals included in presentation sets.



This is one of five official award medals designed for the Great Exhibition. They were struck in bronze, the metal considered by the Commissioners 'better calculated than any other for the development of superior skill and ingenuity in the medallic art'; this reflected the Exhibition's mission of promoting British manufacturing through encouraging excellence in industrial design, and developing public taste. The medal reverse was designed by the medallist, die cutter and sculptor George Gammon Adams (1821-1898). He had been apprenticed to William Wyon (the designer of the obverse of all the medals) at the Royal Mint. Adams’ design for the reverse of this medal was one of the three winning entries in the Society of Arts competition of 1850 which had been run to choose the reverses for the medals. Adams also exhibited works of sculpture in the Exhibition itself. He was later chosen to fashion the death mask of the Duke of Wellington and create a portrait bust based on this likeness.



The Jurors’ Medal was originally intended as one of three different prize medals for Exhibits, however the Council of Chairmen of the Juries recommended its withdrawal as a Third Prize to avoid the assumption of a first, second and third prize of decreasing merit, as was tradition in the French system of ‘expositions’, something the Commissioners were striving to avoid due to the concerns of British Manufacturers. In May 1851 it was decided by The Commissioners that the medal should be used as a Jurors’ Medal to commemorate the service rendered by them; to reward them with their own medal in recognition of their Herculean labours.



This example forms part of a book-shaped, leather- bound Presentation Set of seven medals given to Henry Cole, all inscribed with his name around the edge. Henry Cole was Prince Albert’s chief advisor for the Great Exhibition, involved in all aspects of its concept and execution Although many presentation sets of the five official Medals were commissioned and given to Royal Commissioners, Foreign Governments and others as commemorative sets, this particular set presented to Henry Cole has the same elaborate and distinctive red binding and gilt lettering. but seems to be unique in containing two extra medals awarded to him on the closure of the Great Exhibition, reflecting his central role in its development and success.

Subjects depicted
Associations
Summary
The Jurors’ Medal is one of five official award medals designed for the Exhibition of The Works of Industry of all Nations, known as the ‘Great Exhibition’. It was presented to each member of an extensive Jury system set up by the Royal Commission for the Great Exhibition of 1851 to judge all the exhibits displayed in the Crystal Palace at Hyde Park. From 17,000 Exhibitors, the Jurymen selected the Prize Medal winners and those who should receive an Honourable Mention, and also recommended Exhibitors for the prestigious Council Medal.



The Jury Groups were also responsible for writing extensive Juries Reports on the exhibits, a significant undertaking in itself. The Commissioners chose to reward them with their own medal in recognition of their Herculean labours.



This example belongs to a leather bound presentation set of seven medals given to Henry Cole, all inscribed with his name around the edge. Henry Cole was Prince Albert’s chief advisor for the Great Exhibition and was involved in all aspects of its concept and execution.









Associated Objects
Bibliographic References
  • Allen, Leslie Lewis, The World's Show: Coincraft's Catalogue of Crystal Palace Medals and Tokens, 1851-1936, London: 2000pp. 35-38, HPAO40 p.38. Another Version
  • Brown, Lawrence. British Historical Medals 1837-1901 - Vol II, The Reign of Queen Victoria. London: 1987p.171 No.2464
  • Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. First Report of the Commissioners of 1851. London : [s.n.],1852 (W. Clowes & Sons, printers)
  • Reports by the juries on the subjects in the thirty classes into which the Exhibition was Divided. Presentation Copy. London: 1852. Vol I Introductory, Awards, Reports, classes I-IV.
  • Supplement to the first report of Commissioners: containing engravings of the Medals and Certificates, prepared too late for the insertion in their proper places/by authority of the Royal Commission. London : 1853 (W.Clowe & Sons, printers)
  • Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. Second Report of the Commissioners of 1851. London : [s.n.],1852 (W. Clowes & Sons, printers)
  • On The Exhibition Jury Reports – Extract from Fraser’s Magazine Nov 1852, v.46. no.275
Collection
Library Number
38041800799256

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdMay 13, 2013
Record URL