Jason Clarke Antiques
1862 London Exhibition Jurors Medal to Colonel Sir John St George of the Royal Artillery
For sale, a scarce 1862 London International Exhibition bronze jurors medal to Colonel Sir John St George C.B. of the Royal Artillery.
This superbly executed medal was awarded and individually engraved to each of the 1862 Exhibitors bestowed with a prize for their efforts but a lesser-known fact is that it was also gifted to the jurors who oversaw each of the numerous exhibition classes. The numbers of exhibitor medals greatly outweighing the judges, this, like its predecessor juror’s medal of the 1851 Exhibition are much fewer in number and seldom encountered.
Struck entirely from bronze, the obverse face shows Britannia seated with shield to her side and a sleeping lion at her feet. She is surrounded by six women each individually representing Industry, Agriculture and The Arts. The rim below the lion is marked with, D. Maclise R.A. DES. & Leonard C. Wyon FEC.
The reverse shows a wreath of oak running around the inner circumference with the words, 1862 Londini Honoris Causa which effectively translates to “London, a mark of esteem or respect” to the centre. In small letters to the base, the name of L.C. Wyon FEC is repeated.
The edge of the medal is further engraved to Col St George CB RA Juror Class XI.
Class XI was denoted as, “Military Engineering & Accoutrements, Ordnance & Small Arms” and the then Colonel St George was an obvious candidate given his credentials.
Sir John St George was born in 1812, the eldest son of Lieutenant-Colonel John St George of Birkenhead. In 1826 he enlisted as a cadet at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich and was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery by 1828. He became First Lieutenant in 1829, Captain in 1841 & Lieutenant-Colonel by 1854. His service record included Canada, the West Indies, China, and Ceylon, including spending time as an instructor of artillery at the Royal Military Academy.
In 1855 he was posted to the Crimea to command the siege train at Sebastapol where he was present for the fall of Sebastopol, and for which he was made Brevet Colonel and a Commander of the Bath upon the end of the Crimean War in 1856. Apart from his service record during the Crimea, St George is also famed for having appropriated the bells from the Church of the Twelve Apostles in Sebastapol, one of which was installed in the Round Tower at Windsor Castle. It is only rung upon the the death of a reigning monarch.
He went on to command the Royal Artillery in Malta for two years becoming Colonel in the regiment in 1857. In 1859 he was made President of the Ordnance Select Committee, and remained so until December 1863, it was during this period that he was appointed as a juror at the 1862 Exhibition. He was later elevated to Director of Ordnance and became Major-General in 1865.
In October 1868 he was sent to St. Petersburg as British delegate to a conference on explosive bullets which the attendees later renounced. He was promoted Lieutenant-General in 1873, General in 1877, and finally retired in 1881. His final appointment being the honorary office of Master-Gunner of St. James's Park.
The International Exhibition was declared open by The Duke of Cambridge on the 1st of May 1862 in South Kensington on a site which is now occupied by The Natural History Museum. To give some idea of its scale, it featured nearly thirty thousand exhibitors from thirty-six countries throughout the six months of its existence and welcomed over six million visitors.
This second exhibition was meant to follow up on the huge success of the 1851 Exhibition, originally intended to have been opened in 1861, it was delayed due to the Italian War of Independence, the Civil War in America and not least because of the death of Prince Albert, its Chief Patron and supporter. The latter reason is of course why Queen Victoria was not present at the delayed opening in 1862.
The building that housed the Exhibition was designed using brick and iron by the architect Captain Francis Fowke and contracted out to the firm of Kelk & Lucas. Sadly, Parliament declined the Government’s wishes to purchase the building after the Exhibition but the materials which were reclaimed were eventually put to use in the building of Alexandra Palace. Fowke was also responsible for proposing the building of The Natural history Museum which was eventually constructed in 1881 and remains on the site to this day.