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CITY OF BIRMINGHAM WELCOME HOME / TRIBUTE MEDAL 6 months 3 weeks ago #81072

  • QSAMIKE
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Good Morning Neville.....

Lets put it this way..... If we knew everything about this hobby it would not be any fun learning...... GBS

Mike
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CITY OF BIRMINGHAM WELCOME HOME / TRIBUTE MEDAL 6 months 3 weeks ago #81078

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I have now created a page on the Tribute Medal Database here:

BIRMINGHAM TRIBUTE MEDAL

This is a very half-hearted start, and will be added to if/when I discover more about this elusive award.

Interestingly, Birmingham City Council had very limited funds for the Coronation Day ceremonies, and every request for money is well documented. The purchase of medals for schoolchildren was agreed upon (93,800 medals at a cost of £2,094), but no mention is made of medals for volunteers. The majority of requests were turned down - even money for bellringers was refused.
It is also worth noting that many on the Council did not support the war and, I suspect, had "pro-Boer" sympathies. Getting the council to agree to a presentation of medals would not have been straightforward. Which makes it all the more surprising that there is no press coverage of the Council meeting(s) dealing with this issue.

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CITY OF BIRMINGHAM WELCOME HOME / TRIBUTE MEDAL 6 months 3 weeks ago #81085

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Neville,

The evidence you present tends to confirm my suspicion that the Birmingham “Tribute” Medal was not issued by Birmingham City Council. I think it was a commercial venture by H. B. Sale Ltd trying to cash in on the Coronation and the end of the Boer War. Surely if the Council issued it to the circa 4k Brummies who served in the War the fact would be emblazoned on the receptacle they were sent out in. Also, is it not very unusual to have the makers name on an official war medal? The Birmingham Coat of Arms seems to have been a bit of a variable feast over the years but the City’s motto “FORWARD” has been an ever present at the bottom – I think the City Council would have insisted on this being included in the design.

They would have been produced between end of May 1902 and 24 June 1902 when the Coronation was postponed (only a couple of days before it was due to happen). This could mean very few were sold.

I also wonder if Sale’s were also trying to cash in on the public discontent with the Boer War medals, whereby a man who was invalided home or died in the early stages would end up with only a single medal with a single clasp whereas somebody who saw it through unscathed from start to finish would end up with two much clasped medals. Their medal allowed a friend to help make up the shortfall.

By the way when I searched the papers of the day for the phrase “Tribute medal” I obtained zero hits – I wonder if it was a name thought up by later day medal collectors.
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CITY OF BIRMINGHAM WELCOME HOME / TRIBUTE MEDAL 6 months 3 weeks ago #81087

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All,

I have just visited www.southafricamedals.com and read their write up on the Birmingham Boer War Tribute medal, which makes interesting reading. I quote:

"On 4th June 1901 the Birmingham City Council resolved to pay tribute to the volunteers from the City who had served in South Africa. The actual presentation of this medal occurred at least a year later after the signing of the Peace of Vereeniging on 31st May 1902.
Birmingham was the home of Joseph Chamberlain, the Colonial Secretary during the Boer War, and was noted for it's fine metal work, so it seems rather churlish of the Council to have authorised such a cheaply made tribute medal. Worse still, the obverse design of the KIng and Queen was literally a run-of-the-mill issue because it features on many of the coronation medals produced around the same time.
Some of the recipients chose to improve it's appearance and silver coated or plated examples are common."

Where this website sourced it's information is not stated, but would seem to implicate the City Council's involvement in the process.

As the "city of a thousand trades" many of the Birmingham men who served in the Boer War would have either worked in a trade where they could get enhancement to the appearance of their tribute medal, in the form of coating or gilding, or they might have known someone else who could!
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CITY OF BIRMINGHAM WELCOME HOME / TRIBUTE MEDAL 6 months 3 weeks ago #81088

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Michael Laidlaw's ( www.southafricamedals.com ) information comes from Hibbard (pp. 16-17), who in turn paraphrases the Birmingham Daily Mail of 4th June 1901:

"More agreeable was the next duty which devolved upon his lordship [the Lord Mayor] – to move a resolution recording the appreciation of the Council of the self-sacrificing spirit in which all ranks of the Service Company of the Volunteers of the city and county volunteered for service in South Africa, and of the manner in which they maintained the good name of Birmingham in the campaign. So moderately was the motion worded that the Lord Mayor anticipated its unanimous approval by the Council. It followed, he claimed, quite naturally after the welcome he, in his official capacity, had already addressed to the Volunteers on behalf of his fellow-citizens. The men had freely offered their services in a spirit of patriotic self-sacrifice, and the Lord Mayor felt they were bound publicly to recognise this in a definite manner. Each officer and man would receive a signed copy of the resolution.
Alderman Beale, in seconding, remarked that whatever view they might take of the circumstances of the last two or three years, it must be admitted that the war had been characterised by a higher class of conduct on the part of the troops than on any occasion previously.
There was not a murmur of opposition, and the motion met with unanimous adoption".


Note that there is no mention of a presentation of medals.
The signed copies of the resolution included a cut-out in the shape of a medal (though not of the size or form of the medal being discussed). Hibbard suggests that this might have been a paper representation of the Birmingham tribute, but this seems unlikely as the medals were minted over a year after the council resolution was passed.
I assume Michael's estimated date for the presentation of the medals comes from the fact that they carry the (original) Coronation Day date of 26th June 1902.

As things stand, I have been unable to find any source that identifies the issuer of these medals. Like Smethwick, I too have questioned whether the presentation came from the City Council. It certainly seems odd that the City Council meeting approving the presentation of copies of the resolution is well covered in the press, whereas no report has (as yet) come to light regarding a distribution of medals. Contrast this with the plethora of newspaper articles covering the distribution of children's medals on Coronation Day, detailing their cost, the number purchased, etc., etc.


The wording of the signed copies of the 1901 resolution was as follows (Hibbard, p. 16):

City of Birmingham.
At a Monthly Meeting of the Council of the City, held in the Council Chamber at the Council House, on Tuesday, the Fourth day of June, 1901,
The Right Honourable the Lord Mayor (Alderman S. EDWARDS) in the Chair,
It was moved by the Lord Mayor, seconded by Alderman Beale, and
Resolved:
THAT the Council desires to record its high appreciation of the self-sacrificing spirit in which all ranks of the portion of the Service Company supplied by the Volunteers of the City came forward when called upon, and also of the manner in which they have maintained the good name of the City through the campaign in South Africa.
Resolved:
THAT a copy of the forgoing resolution be sent to each Officer, Non-commissioned Officer, and Man of the Company who went out from Birmingham.
In pursuance of the foregoing resolutions we hereby sign and forward this copy to
Private W.J. White
[signed] Sam Edwards, Lord Mayor
[signed] G? Smith, Town Clerk.


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CITY OF BIRMINGHAM WELCOME HOME / TRIBUTE MEDAL 6 months 3 weeks ago #81102

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The following article in the Birmingham Daily Mail of 24 Jun 1902 makes for interesting reading.
By the time of the postponement of the Coronation, H.B. Sale had already furnished orders for some ten million medals, bringing in an estimated £200,000 (today's equivalent of roughly £15 million). Unlike some other medallists they had included the date of 26th June 1902, making this entire issue "useless". It is interesting to note that Sale's were not going to make the same mistake twice, as the altered/new dies carried no date at all.

MILLIONS OF MEDALS USELESS.
CONTRACTS COMPLETED.
Had the startling announcement [of the postponement of the Coronation] been made a few weeks ago the effect upon the medallists in the city would have been very serious, but coming as it did, less than forty-eight hours before the eventful day, it will make practically no difference whatever so far as the present output of medals is concerned, inasmuch as the contracts have been nearly all completed. From Messrs Sale and Co., a representative of the “Mail” learned that in Birmingham, roughly speaking, some ten millions of medals had been struck and disposed of in the city and throughout the country, realising about £200,000. One interesting feature, too, is that practically the whole of them bear the date “June 26th, 1902”. This, of course, will mean that the whole of the medals bearing this date will be useless, and a fresh supply will have to be manufactured, necessitating another heavy expenditure. Another Birmingham manufacturer, however, has only dated his medals with the year, and consequently these in the ordinary course of things will be available when the Coronation takes place.





The two versions of the obverse of the H.B. Sale & Co medal (Birmingham tribute and Aug 9 1902 Coronation medal). On closer examination it would appear that Sale & Co. cut entirely new dies for the second issue.

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