The Golden Jubilee Medal was the first commemorative medal to be struck as we know it today – i.e., worn on the left breast suspended from a ribbon. The medal was instituted in 1887 by Royal Warrant as an awarded to participants of the 50th anniversary celebrations of Victoria’s accession to the throne.
The medal was struck in gold, silver and bronze, with the gold version awarded to members of the Royal family and their personal guests. Silver awarded to members of the Royal Household, government ministers, senior officials, distinguished foreign visitors attending the celebrations in June, 1887 and officers of the Army and Navy including those commanding the troops on the Royal route of the processions on the 21st June, 1887, and those in command of ships present at the Royal Review at Spithead. The bronze version of the medal was given to selected NCO’s, warrant officers and men of the Army and petty officers and ratings of the Royal Navy who took part in jubilee processions or who were serving in Her Majesty’s ships at the Royal Review at Spithead.
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. These were first made of silk but cotton was increasingly used as the nineteenth century developed. Their own colours often have a symbolic significance: the equal stripes of the ‘1939 to 1945 Star,’ for example, are dark blue to represent the service of the Royal and Merchant Navies, red, to represent that of the Armies and light blue to represent that of Air Forces.
Ribbon width can vary slightly though it is generally 32mm wide.
Ribbon – Broad central blue band with wide white stripes, and narrow blue stripes at the edges
Type – Jubilee medal
Eligibility – Members of The Royal Family, Royal Households and guests. Envoys, Foreign Ambassadors and Heads-of Missions, Colonial Prime Ministers and members of the Indian and Colonial Contingents attending the Jubilee. Officers, soldiers, sailors of the naval and military contingents participation in jubilee activities.
Awarded for – Participation in Queen Victoria's golden jubilee
Established – 1887
Designer – Obverse side was designed by Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm and the reverse designed by Clemens Emptmayer.
Naming – Issued unnamed
Suspender - Ring
Clasps – One
Description – The medal was 30mm in diameter and issued in gold, silver and bronze. The obverse of the medal bears the crowned and veiled effigy of Queen Victoria facing left with the surrounding inscription “VICTORIA D.G. REGINA ET IMPERATRIX F.D.” The reverse bears the eight line inscription “IN COMMEMORATION OF THE 50TH YEAR OF THE REIGN OF QUEEN VICTORIA 21 JUNE 1887” set below a crown and a wreath made up of thistles, roses and shamrocks tied at the base by ribbon.
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.
When the Diamond Jubilee was celebrated ten years later holders of the 1887 medal were given a clasp in the form of a cable entwinded around the date 1897 and surmounted by an imperial crown.
Major L L Gordon ‘British Battles and Medals’
Medal Year book 2006
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