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Davison's Nile Medal: CM.1181-2009

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Mint: Birmingham
Issuer: Davison, Alexander
Artist: K├╝chler, Conrad Heinrich




One of then-General Napoleon Bonaparte's earlier plans against the British Empire during the French Revolutionary Wars was to threaten India by the capture of Egypt, and to attempt to open a canal between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. A French expedition arrived in the country in 1798, and British forces were sent in pursuit under Rear-Admiral Horatio Nelson.
The fleets met in Aboukir Bay on the night of 1 August 1798, and Nelson was able to approach from windward so that French ships to the lee could not sail up to support their fellows. As a result Nelson was able to demolish the French line ship by ship, and the French fleet was almost entirely sunk or captured with only 218 casualties on the British side. The victory secured Nelson's reputation, but also led to Bonaparte's return to France to stage the coup that made him First Consul.
Nelson's victory was greatly celebrated in Britain, and although no official medal was issued for the action until 1849 (by which time very few potential claimants were still alive), Nelson's prize agent for the campaign, Alexander Davison, had this medal made in Birmingham at his own expense for distribution to the officers and men present at the battle.
Captains and above received gold, other officers silver, but this example in bronze would have been awarded to a rating. It remains unnamed as issued and so the recipient is unknown. Lester Watson acquired the medal at some point before 1928.


History note: Gift of L. Hoyt Watson; ex Lester Watson Collection, acquired before 1928

Legal notes

Given by Lester Watson through Cambridge in America, 2009

Measurements and weight

Diameter: 47.1 mm
Weight: 39.86 g

Place(s) associated

  • Birmingham

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (2009) by Watson, Lester


Production date: AD 1798



Materials used in production


Techniques used in production


Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: Pax with olive branch standing left on shoreline outcrop, with shield under left arm bearing bust of Nelson and legend: "EUROPE'S HOPE AND ENGLAND'S GLORY"

  • Location: Obverse
  • Type: Design

Inscription present: Fleet off shore with rising sun in background; exergue inscription reads: "Victory of the Nile / August 1, 1798"

  • Location: Reverse
  • Type: Design

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: CM.1181-2009
Primary reference Number: 141275
Watson Catalogue: 67
Ordering: M-0064
Previous object number: LW.0064
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 15 January 2024 Last processed: Monday 15 January 2024

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Coins and Medals

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Davison's Nile Medal" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-22 13:17:54

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