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Naval General Service Medal (1793-1840): CM.1391-2009

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Object information

Current Location: In storage

Maker(s)

Mint: London
Ruler: Victoria (1837-1901)
Artist: Wyon, William
Ruler: Victoria regina (With the title of)

Entities

Categories

Description

Just as in 1848 the extensive land campaigns of the Napoleonic Wars and the other conflicts of the pre-Victorian era were recognised by the issue of the Miltary General Service Medal, those serving in the Navy at the time were recognised with the Naval General Service Medal. As with the Army equivalent and the East India Company's related award, many of the battles for which the medal was awarded had been fought so long ago that few if any claimants survived.
In addition, bars were awarded for many actions whose significance and size were, despite the heroism displayed by those involved, relatively minor. The result was that many of the bars were issued in tiny numbers, with some combinations all but unique, and the medals command a very high price among collectors because of this rarity and individuality. This in turn, along with the manufacture in most cases of more bars than were eventually issued, has led to the `improvement' of many common awards where recipients' names are shared with those present at `rarer' battles. The medal also shares with the Military General Service and Army of India Medals the oddity that Queen Victoria, whose portrait they bear, was not the ruler under whom the battles for which it was awarded were fought.
Some of the smallest actions for which the NGSM was awarded were fought not from ships, but from ships' boats, combats which could on occasions be no less dangerous or destructive than ship-to-ship battles. This bar was given for two separate actions on the Elk River in Chesapeake Bay, in which landing parties from 8 Royal Navy vessels went upriver to destroy United States ships and stores; they sank five vessels in the first engagement, at Frenchtown (the night of 29 April), and on their return down the river on 3 May were fired upon by a US battery at Havre-de-Grace and therefore landed and destroyed it.
Early recipients of the NGSM with this clasp received one that read "29 April Boat Service 1813" but as a similar clasp had already been issued for a different battle the one for these engagements was rapidly revised to the version seen here, which was awarded to Lieutenant G. Bishop, of the 38-gun 5th-rate frigate HMS Statira. The presence of such a man aboard the vessel at this time is verified, and the Medals Roll confirms the award of the piece to him. Lester Watson purchased the medal from the dealer Gifford at some point before 1928; it had previously been auctioned at the London house of Glendining in January 1903.

Notes

History note: Gift of L. Hoyt Watson; ex Lester Watson Collection, bt Gifford before 1928. Ex Glendining, Jan. 1903.

Legal notes

Given by Lester Watson through Cambridge in America, 2009

Measurements and weight

Diameter: 36.1 mm
Weight: 35.81 g

Place(s) associated

  • London

Acquisition and important dates

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

Dating

1849 - 1851

Materials used in production

Silver

Techniques used in production

Struck

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: Bust of Victoria facing left

  • Text: VICTORIA REGINA
  • Location: Obverse
  • Type: Design

Inscription present: Britannia with trident seated sideways on seahorse

  • Location: Reverse
  • Type: Design

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: CM.1391-2009
Primary reference Number: 141485
Watson Catalogue: 299
Ordering: M-0274
Previous object number: LW.0274
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

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Naval General Service Medal (1793-1840)" Web page available at: https://data.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/id/object/141485 Accessed: 2024-04-18 12:13:23

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{{cite web|url=https://data.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/id/object/141485 |title=Naval General Service Medal (1793-1840) |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-04-18 12:13:23|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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