The Royal Mint marks 200 years since the Battle of Waterloo
08 Jun 2015
The Royal Mint has marked 200 years since the Battle of Waterloo with the release of a new United Kingdom £5 coin and a very special edition of Pistrucci’s Waterloo Medal in a fitting tribute to a corresponding anniversary at the mint itself.
Two centuries have now passed since The Royal Mint first started making official military campaign medals after being commissioned to make awards for soldiers who had fought in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, the first such medal to be issued to all who served.
Overseen by the Master of the Mint William Wellesley Pole (brother of the Duke of Wellington) The Royal Mint struck more than 37,000 Waterloo Campaign Medals to honour the bravery of those who fought in the conflict.
A second splendid medal was commissioned for the heads of the allied countries and battle commanders but was never received by its intended recipients. This masterpiece took renowned engraver Benedetto Pistrucci 30 years to complete but then could not be struck because of its size.
Pistrucci’s conceptual workings and original tools have been revisited by The Royal Mint in order to finally complete the 80mm diameter silver medal, resplendent in all its glory and bearing the original inscriptions made by the master engraver’s own hand – never before seen on a medal.
A limited number of these medals are now available from The Royal Mint in addition to The 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo 2015 UK £5 coin, by renowned artist and sculptor David Lawrence.
David’s design was inspired by the famous 1861 painting ‘The Meeting of Wellington and Blücher after the Battle of Waterloo’ by Daniel Maclise which records a ‘moment of accord’ between Wellington and Blücher, leader of the allied Prussian army, and still hangs in the House of Lords today.
Shane Bissett, The Royal Mint’s Director of Commemorative Coin and Medals, said: “This year not only commemorates the bicentenary of The Battle of Waterloo but also signifies the start of a lasting legacy, when it was decided that named military campaign medal awards should be given to ordinary servicemen and women. It seemed fitting that we should mark such an important battle in history, the impact that it had on military awards and The Royal Mint as a result.
“The story of Pistrucci’s Waterloo Medal is one of great men, politics and passion, a story that has captured the interest of collectors for two centuries. In order to remain as authentic and true to the original as possible we have revisited the early workings of Pistrucci and tools held in our vaults to carefully recreate the design for this landmark anniversary. The medal is rich in symbolism and has been struck in the highest relief to showcase its stunning mythology-inspired design. After so many years since he first imagined his magnificent masterpiece, it is our honour to complete Pistrucci’s legacy and bring this legendary medal to life.”