CRYSTAL PALACE- Large Medal, Gem Prooflike White Metal Crystal Palace 1851 #1331
The image of Prince Albert, the husband (consort) of Queen Victoria graces most of the medals found today from the 1851 world’s fair. Unlike past centuries of English royalty, the spouse of the ruling monarch played a major role in the events of the day. The first world’s fair was the idea of Prince Albert and he was the one who not only championed the event but saw it to fruition. It was but one of many major projects Queen Victoria delegated to her husband.
Several of the original medals struck to commemorate the fair in 1851 were similar in design to one another, whether they were large or quite small medals.
The area behind Albert’s head looks to be streaked from an old cleaning but if so it was likely an unnecessary rubbing of the surface. The medal surface in other areas is completely untouched and Prooflike reflective. Examining other parts of the obverse and the reverse do not show such marks. Some of this may be the lighting in the photo and some may even be polishing of the die. Two things could explain the fact that these marks are here and nowhere else on the medal might be that perhaps it had toned in that spot or had some type of dirt or mark and they rubbed it (too excessively) with a cloth to remove what must have been a very slight imperfection.
It is especially interesting to study the entire large medal; the denticles are struck as you would expect on an actual proof. If you had time to study other medals with a similar image of Albert this die was cut well on his features, his hair is “soft” yet shows distinct marks and curls. Considering it is a 170-year-old-white metal the condition is remarkable. I know that I have come to dislike but accept the pesting or the dark almost charcoal-like toning that can occur depending on the alloy used for the medal. Taking a little tour of the medal has even more to like beyond just Albert’s hair and the denticles and interesting double rim on part of the piece. It was struck quite strongly and perhaps it was an early test strike if not a proof per se.
You can see from the reverse that it almost looks as if the medal was photographed in a holder and that the black at the periphery is a shadow, which it is not it’s part of the planchet. The type is quite strong for a raised type, even and well struck. And the Crystal Palace itself is both attractive and very nicely produced.