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Trial Strike of a Medal Unlisted in BHM.

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Two images of a unifaced trial strike by William Bain. Lead 55mm.


I assume this is for a medal being made for the death of James Watt, but the medal was never produced.


There is no listing of a finished medal in 'British Historical Medals' Vols 1 & 2 by Laurence Brown which matches this trial strike.


This could be a unique find!!!

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I found the following on the web.


It is a medal by W. Bain of Sir Francis Chantry. The information states that James Watt is on the reverse but the image does not show the reverse.


I wonder if the James Watt reverse is the same as your lead piece???


Sir Francis Chantry medal with James Watt reverse

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Thanks for your interest.


That medal is actually by William Wyon BHM # 2227

Sir Francis Leggatt Chantrey; James Watt (on reverse) by William Wyon, after W. Bain, and after Sir Francis Leggatt Chantrey medal, 1843.


Wyon based the obverse of that medal on a medal of Sir Francis Leggatt Chantrey by W.Bain and the reverse depicts a memorial to James Watt in Handsworth Parish Church, Birmingham by Sir Francis Leggatt Chantrey.


That website should have said Memorial to James Watt on the reverse.

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James Watt by William Wyon (after his own statue of Watt) for the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society Institute. 1833, 2nd Class. Silver 45mm. 48 grams. The R.C.P.S. was the first polytechnic in Britain.



I purchased the trial strike from ebay and, because the pics were not too clear, I could not even tell for sure if there was a name below the bust let alone what it was.


I thought it was probably a trial strike by Wyon (you can see the similarities with the above medal), not till I received it could I see it was by Bain.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Received this email today.


Thank you for your message. Bain's medal of Watt is listed in Forrer's 'Biographical dictionary of medallists', vol. 7 (1923), p. 41. It is not clear from where Forrer received his information, but it may be that the Watt medal was one of the pieces that the artist exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1823 and 1847. A check in Graves's 'Royal Academy exhibitors' would soon reveal whether this was so. I hope you find this extra piece of information interesting.

Yours sincerely

Philip Attwood

Curator of medals

Dept of Coins and Medals

The British Museum


So now I will have to check in Graves' Royal Academy Exhibitors (anyone have access to it?). At least I know that this is an extremely rare, if not unique piece.

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  • 2 weeks later...



W. Bain did show a medal of James Watt at the Royal Academy in 1825, strangely in 1828 he exhibited another one of Watt (perhaps the same one?). There is no description of either medal shown but it is possible that they/it were cliches (unifaced). It or they seem to have totally disappeared, as no further reference can be found regarding it/them. Definitely no medal was ever produced for sale to the public.


It is possible that what I have is not in fact a trial strike but in fact the finished medal, one of the medal/medals shown in 1825/1828


Obviously this medal is of the highest rarity but that does not necessarily translate in to a high monetary value as there are so few collectors of Bain. He does not have the same cachet of a Wyon etc, still a marvelous find.

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  • 7 months later...

The August edition of the 'Numismatist' has an excellent article by Mark Fox on James Watt, plus his connection with Matthew Bolton & the Soho Mint, & in which he used my Bain & Wyon medal pics from this topic and wrote about my acquisition of the Bain Watt medal from Ebay. He also mentioned a 1983 Spinks Numismatic Circular which had some Bain trial strikes of James Watt advertised in it. I have copied the relevant info & pics from that Spinks Numismatic Circular & you can see them below. They are an interesting series of lead trials pieces for the same medal, the finished medal is #4155 in bronze(which closely resembles mine, though mine is a lead piece. Why after all this work he did not publish the medal is still a mystery.


The 1983 prices shown would now be about 3 times higher today(using an historic GBP value converter).



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