British South Africa Company Medal

Era: 1896

The British South Africa Company Medal was originally instituted in 1896 and sanctioned by Queen Victoria to be issued to the troops engaged in the Matabeleland Rising in 1893, and it was later extended to cover operations in Rhodesia 1896. In 1897 Queen Victoria sanctioned a further issue of a medal to those who served in Mashonaland in 1897.  The three medals are very much the same except for name and date above the medal reverse above the lion. The three wordings above the lion denote the campaign for which the medal was issued: ‘Matabeleland 1893,’ ‘Rhodesia 1896’, and ‘Mashonaland 1897’.

In the year 1927 was decided by the Southern Rhodesian Government to issue a medal to commemorate the earlier 1890 Mashonaland campaign. This medal bore no place or date on the reverse.


Materials:      The majority of the British medals and clasps are made of solid silver, though some were issue in bronze versions, mainly to Indian non combatants.  The majority of the British campaign awards are circular, usually 36mm in diameter.

Ribbons:         Medals are worn suspended from their own specific ribbons (or Ribands). These where first made of silk but cotton was increasingly used as the ninetieth century progressed.  Their own colours often have a symbolic significance: the blue and white strips of the Egypt medal, for example, are said to signify the blue and white Niles, while the red and green ribbon of the Second Afghan War shows the heraldic colours of Great Britain and of Islam.

Ribbon width can vary slightly though it is generally 32mm wide

Ribbon – Four golden yellow and three navy blue stripes.

British South Africa Company Medal Ribbon
British South Africa Company Medal Ribbon

Type – Campaign medal.

Eligibility – First Matabele War, Second Matabele War, Mashonaland campaign

Awarded for – Service in the Matabele Wars

Established – 1896, 1897, 1927

Suspender – Ornate, which composed of representations of roses, shamrocks, and leeks.

Designer – R. Caton Woodville

Naming – Several styles including engraved in sloping capitals, indented capitals or impressed capitals.

Clasps – Four issued.

Description – The medal is circular, made of silver, 36 mm in diameter.

The obverse depicts the crowned and veiled head of Queen Victoria with the legend “VICTORIA REGINA.” The reverse of the medal shows a charging lion with a spear (assegai) sticking in its chest. In the foreground are native spears and a shield and the background has a mimosa bush. Above are the name and date of the campaign for which the award was originally made, and below is the wording “BRITISH SOUTH AFRICA COMPANY.”

Clasps are usually referred to as ‘bars’.  They are single-faced metal bars carried on a ribbon attached to the medal, indicating the recipient’s service in a particular campaign or battle.  The clasps carry side flanges to enable them to be attached to the medal and riveted to each other, so that new ones can be attached as earned.  Usually the first earned Clasp is closest to the medal, so that the latest earned should be at the top, although they can be found in the wrong order. 

Mashonaland 1890                                                                          (1st June – 12th sept, 1890)

Matabeleland 1893                                                                         (16th Oct – 24th Dec, 1893)

Rhodesia 1896                                                                                (24th Mar – 31st Dec, 1896)

Mashonaland 1897                                                                         (24th March, 1896 – 31st Oct, 1897)


This guide will help you through all the parts and descriptions of military medals


Major L L Gordon ‘British Battles and Medals’


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