I have recently acquired this tribute medal from a well known online auction site and after a little research feel able to share with the forum.
While this artefact, which is made of white metal, may not make the grade for listing alongside the worthies to be found in Neville C's archive of tribute medals awarded for the conflict, I think it worthy of it's own thread.
White metal disc suspended below two rings from which a length of red, white and blue ribbon (very worn original in this specimen) attaches to the fastening pin.
The medal disc is 32mm in diameter and has the bust of Colonel Robert Baden Powell, the same as the South Shields Mafeking tribute medal. The disc weighs 7.3g. Around the edge we find "RUSHEN HONOURS HEROIC MAFEKING 1900".
To the reverse we find a left facing bust of Queen Victoria, veiled and diademed. The legend "VICTORIA QUEEN AND EMPRESS" is to the edge with a garland of roses, thistles and shamrock at the bottom of the disc.
If memory serves me well, I have only seen one other example of this medal.
has a page giving a short description and image of the Rushen medal. It suggests that the medal was possibly commissioned by the Northamptonshire town of Rushden, albeit with a mistake in the spelling of the town's name!
However, I believe this possibility to be incorrect. In the southwest of the Isle of Man (an island in the Irish Sea between Ireland and the UK mainland) is a small town called RUSHEN, famous for it's castle. It is a small settlement which has a population of around 1600 in the modern day.
While the Isle of Man has a small population overall, they provided numerous volunteers to the conflict with the Boers in South Africa (which is another story for another thread!).
I cannot find any direct reference to support my theory, but find it highly unlikely that any Victorian manufacturer worth their salts would have misspelled the name of the town upon the medal (RUSHEN instead of RUSHDEN). I can find no other town in the UK called Rushen.
Was this medal struck to distribute to schoolchildren from Rushen, or available to the general public? Either way, what were the numbers produced?
Would anyone on the forum have any knowledge of this?
All input most gratefully appreciated.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Neville_C, Smethwick
As Steve points out, the Mafeking medals issued by Rushen and South Shields have strikingly similar obverse designs.
It would be interesting to know whether any other towns/villages distributed such commemoratives with this obverse, and which medalist was responsible for the dies. The South Shields medals are unsigned.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Moranthorse1, Smethwick
David, many thanks for providing the answer to both of my questions.
Neville, I will be keeping an eye out for any similar medals of this type issued to schoolchildren. They usually (the South Shields example certainly) can be picked up at pocket money prices in comparison to most of the items we enjoy collecting.
I have been doing some research on the South Shields Mafeking Medal by searching the editions of the Shields Daily Gazette published during the 1900's.
The first clipping is from the 27th July 1900 edition and is part of an article headed the "Mafeking Celebration Fund".
So this medal was, not surprisingly, made in much larger numbers than the Rushen medal with 21,500 given to local schoolchildren. A special gold one was also made to be presented to BP himself. The article then goes on to mention 300 medals which would go to bandsmen who had performed at the celebration and to schoolchildren achieving "good attendance and good behaviour". As these exemplary children would already have received the ordinary medal I wonder if the 300 medals were gold ones.
Then, as the article below dated 27 July 1903 shows, in 1903 BP visited neighbouring Newcastle-on-Tyne and South Shields took the opportunity to present him with his gold medal. Interestingly the number of children who received the South Shields ordinary medal seems to have grown to 30,000.