Last week's item on a "Waterloo Medal" being put up for auction befuddled a number of readers, and rightly so. -Editor
Pete Smith writes:
Thank you for finding a way to include an illustration of Pistrucci's Waterloo Medal. However, it does not fit the facts of the story. Pistrucci's medal is described in British Historical Medals 1760-1960 by Lawrence Brown. The medal was not available until 1849 so it would not have been given to soldiers "after the battle." Providing one to "all ranks" would have required tens of thousands of medals. On pages 210-211 of the Brown book is a reproduction of the prospectus for the Pistrucci medal. It was offered in copper to anyone with two Pounds, two Shillings to spend. No mention is made of giving any to the soldiers. There are dozens of medal related to Waterloo. One may have been a campaign medal. but it was not the Pistrucci Medal.
Darryl Atchison writes:
I was surprised when I read this morning's issue of the E-Sylum to the point of nearly falling out of my chair. You know how there is a tiny bit of information that for some strange reason remains firmly lodged in your brain which refuses to be dislodged by other bits of "useless" information. While, such is the case with the Waterloo medal which you so aptly describe in this morning's issue. Without a doubt this is Pistrucci's handsomest production
However, I could not understand where this medal came from nor how the family could claim that their ancestor had been awarded the medal. Pistrucci worked on the illustrated "Waterloo medal" for over three decades and it is unquestionably the legacy of his lifetime's work with the Royal Mint.
It is my understanding, however, that the dies that Pistrucci finally produced were deemed to be too large to strike from without risk of damaging them. Electrotypes were prepared of the Waterloo medal but this was sometime in the 1850s. I do not know whether any proof or specimen pieces were struck from the dies but there were definitely no pieces struck for presentation.
Sadly what has happened here is a mixup in photographs. There is a military decoration known as the "Waterloo medal" which was issued with a suspension loop and ribbon. The medals were presented to all ranks who had served at the battles of Ligny, Quatre Bras and Waterloo from June 16th - 18th, 1815. Clearly it is an example of this decoration which the family are putting up for auction and not one of Pistrucci's pieces.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but this is simply an editorial mixup. I wouldn't let this bother you too much. It made for interesting reading and prompted me to go and relearn a bit more about both Waterloo medals again.
Keep up the great work. I look forward to reading The E-Sylum every Monday morning.
William Smith also wrote in questioning the illustration. The editorial mixup in this case was all mine – the original article didn’t have an illustration of the piece in question, and I grabbed an image of the Pistrucci Waterloo medal from the E-Sylum archives. Oops – my mistake. Thanks for setting us straight. Darryl noted that images of the OTHER Waterloo medal are readily available on the internet. Here's one image I found, and Darryl confirms this is the likely type of Waterloo medal being auctioned. -Editor
Wayne Homren, Editor
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