General papers of the Royal Mint relating to medals.
They include medal books 1831 to 1948; Board of Trade medals; commemorative medals; Foreign Office medals; medals for societies and other bodies; medals or tokens resembling coins; military and naval medals, including the Waterloo Medal; Royal Prize Medals; Royal Victoria Medal; specimen medals.
Proof specimens of all the medals made in the Royal Mint since 1801 are kept in the Mint Museum.
Before 1851, the making of medals in the Royal Mint was a matter solely for the engravers and was regarded as being the personal undertaking of the engravers, for which they received separate payment. A Royal Patent issued in July, 1669, gave the engravers the graving of all dies for medals of any metal, and the monopoly of medals bearing portraits of the King or Queen. In November, 1706, the Chief Officers of the Mint were empowered by Royal Warrant to employ the engravers in making official or public medals, such as the Coronation Medals. The engravers also used the facilities of the Royal Mint to produce commemorative medals to their own design for sale. Until the beginning of the nineteenth century, a coronation had been the one standard occasion for the creation and distribution of an official medal. The issue of official medals began to be extended with the award of the Waterloo Medal, which set the precedent for the award of general service and campaign medals for the Navy and Army. The engravers' right of private practice was terminated in 1851; and the Die Department became responsible for the manufacture of all medals, both official and private, made in the Mint.
The medals and stars issued after the First World War were manufactured by the Woolwich Arsenal and private contractors. A new Medal Unit was set up in the Mint in 1922 and from then onwards all Royal and State medals and decorations in metal, except the Victoria Cross, were supplied by the Royal Mint. Orders were also accepted for the design and production of private medals.
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