BAMS Medal Research

This is research for my British Art Medal Society Student Medal Project, it is a live brief. An exhibition is held in spring 2015, all work is catalogued (of which participants receive) and the work may be purchased. Collages from around the UK and an invited academy from France will be participating in this 22nd year of the Student Medal Project.

To enable students to focus on aspects of the medal a number of areas will be judged:

  • Modelling
  • Construction
  • Use of edge
  • The most developed theme between too sides
  • The most imaginative dialogue between the two sides
  • Innovation in the medium
  • Patination
  • Portraiture
  • Referential work – as to another artist
  • The plane and perspective
  • Expression of an abstract idea

The brief suggests to focus of one or two of these aspects to develop.

There are a number of prizes including a Grand First Prize, a Second Grand Prize, as well as other sponsored prizes. One prize awarded for The Best Use of Lettering. One specific prize is : The best Political Medal.

Delivery of finished medals should be made by 13th February.


Some Research

A medal, or medallion, is, strictly speaking, a small, flat, and round (or, at times, ovoid) piece of metal that has been sculpted, moulded, cast, struck, stamped, or some way marked with an insignia, portrait, or other artistic rendering. A medal may be awarded to a person or organization as a form of recognition for sporting, military, scientific, academic, or various other achievements.Military awards and decorations are more precise terms for certain types of state decoration. Medals may also be created for sale to commemorate particular individuals or events, or as works of artistic expression in their own right. In the past, medals commissioned for an individual, typically with his portrait, were often used as a form of diplomatic or personal gift, with no sense of being an award for the conduct of the recipient.


  • An artist who creates medals or medallions is called a “medallist”.
  • Medals have long been popular collectible items either as a variety of exonumia or of militaria.
  • Bronze has been the most common material employed for medals, due to its fair price range, durability, ease with which to work when casting, and the ample availability However, a wide range of other media have also been used. Rarer metals have been employed, such assilver, platinum, and gold, when wishing to add value beyond the mere artistic depiction, as well as base metals and alloys such as copper, brass, iron, aluminum, lead, zinc,nickel, and pewter. Medals that are made with inexpensive material might be gilded, silver plated, chased, or finished in a variety of other ways to improve their appearance. Medals have also been made of rock, gemstone, ivory, glass, porcelain, terracotta, coal, wood, paper, enamel, lacquer-ware, and plastics.
  • The first known instance of a medal being awarded comes from the historian Josephus who, writing long after the event, accounts that in the fourth century BCE, the High Priest Jonathan led the Hebrews in aid of Alexander the Great, and that in return for this, Alexander “…sent to Jonathan… honorary awards, as a golden button, which it is custom to give the king’s kinsmen.” Roman emperors used both military awards of medals, and political gifts of medallions that were like very large coins, usually in gold or silver, and die-struck like coins. Both these and actual golden coins were often set as pieces of jewellery, worn by both sexes.

– Wikipedia

The first well-known great artist to create medals was the Italian painter Antonio Pisano, also known as Pisanello, who modelled and cast a number of portrait medals of princes and scholars in the 1440s. Many other artists followed his example, in places such as Italy, the Low Countries, Germany, and France. In the seventeenth century medals were extensively used to commemorate events and glorify rulers. In the eighteenth century prize medals became common. In the 19th century art medals exploded in popularity. In the early part of the aforementioned century, David d’Angers produced a great series of portrait medals of famous contemporaties and in the latter part of the century, Jules-Clément Chaplain and Louis-Oscar Roty were among many highly regarded medalists. The early twentieth century saw art medals flourish, particularly in France, Italy, and Belgium, while later in the century Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, the USA, Canada, and England produced much high quality work. One such artist is the portrait medalist Christian Cardell Corbet. The Sanford Saltus medal is the most prestigious award for art medals in the USA.

– Wikipedia


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