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Ashantee War Medal: CM.1455-2009

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Mint: London
Artist: Wyon, Leonard Charles
Artist: Poynter, Edward John
Ruler: Victoria (1837-1901)
Ruler: Victoria regina (With the title of)




The Ashanti Confederacy, which had occupied an area somewhat larger than modern Ghana since c. 1750, was a major opponent of British expansion in western Africa for the duration of the nineteenth century. A thirty-year peace agreed in 1831, which accorded the British control of most of what would become their Gold Coast colony, failed to prevent repeated border disputes and minor infractions across the Pra River.
Matters began to escalate in 1872, when the port of Elmina, which had been the first European settlement in West Africa and was the Confederacy's principal trading point with the European world, was transferred from the Dutch West India Company (who had captured it from Portugal in 1637) to the British coastal colony. King Kaofi Kalkali (usually spelt Coffee) of the Ashanti, who had previously effectively controlled the port, made things sufficiently difficult for its new rulers that in 1873 General Sir Garnet Wolseley, a veteran of the Crimea and the Indian Mutiny, was sent with a large force that in 1874 invaded Confederacy territory and sacked the capital, Kumase. Although they had to withdraw, African reinforcements for the British convinced King Kaofi to surrender. After this the British territory along the coast was expanded and formalised as the Gold Coast colony. Another war with the Ashanti Confederacy resulted in the deposition of its king and the installation of a British Governor in 1896, and further and final fighting in 1900.
This medal was awarded to Private J. Martin of the 2nd Battalion, Rifle Brigade, for his participation in the 1874 campaign, and the bar indicates his presence at the sack of Kumase. 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: 36.5 mm
Weight: 41.82 g

Place(s) associated

  • London

Acquisition and important dates

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


Production date: AD 1874

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production


Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: Bust of Victoria facing left with veil

  • Location: Obverse
  • Type: Design

Inscription present: Scene of bush fighting around tree with fallen African to fore

  • Location: Reverse
  • Type: Design

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: CM.1455-2009
Primary reference Number: 141549
Watson Catalogue: 378
Ordering: M-0338
Previous object number: LW.0338
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Saturday 22 January 2022 Last processed: Tuesday 13 June 2023

Associated departments & institutions

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

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2023) "Ashantee War Medal" Web page available at: Accessed: 2023-09-25 22:15:06

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{{cite web|url= |title=Ashantee War Medal |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2023-09-25 22:15:06|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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