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First Class Medal: CM.85-2005

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Artist: Wyon, William
Issuer: Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society
Issuer: Watt, James (Struck in the name of)




The Cornwall Polytechnic Society was founded as a philanthropic organisation by the Fox family of Falmouth, Quaker mine-owners, in order to promote the ideas and inventions of their workers. It became the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society in 1835 with a grant from King William IV. It has contributed widely to the advancement of science and industry in the South-West of England, most notably in mining, and since 2000 has been merged with the Falmouth Arts Society to promote all forms of culture and learning. From its inception the Society intended to further invention and progress by the means of prizes and competitions, and funds were established accordingly. The First Class prize medal was designed by William Wyon of the Royal Academy, and featured James Watt, popularly credited with the invention of the steam engine. This example came to the Museum from the collection of Wyon's descendant Allan Gairdner Wyon, but despite this is not, as are most of the other pieces in the collection, a specimen copy. Around the edge it bears the inscription: `"LOCO" VAPOUR GAS LIGHT CO. LTD., FOR PETROL GAS MACHINE', showing us that this piece was in fact a genuine award. The company appear to have met with little success in the face of advances in electric lighting and to have been going out of business by the early twentieth century, despite this earlier success.


History note: From the estate of the late Mrs Venetia M. Watson, daughter of the artist's descendant Allan Gairdner Wyon

Place(s) associated

  • Falmouth

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (2005-01-31) by Watson, Philip Charles


1835 CE - 1851 CE


Bronze issue inscribed around edge: `"LOCO" VAPOUR GAS LIGHT CO. LTD., FOR PETROL GAS MACHINE.'

Components of the work

Object composed of bronze Diameter 44.0 mm Die Axis 0 degrees Weight 42.65 g

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: Bust of James Watt left withname vertically downwards behind head, artist's signature in exergue

  • Text: JAMES WATT
  • Location: Obverse
  • Type: Design

Inscription present: Wreath of laurel and another plant, right and left respectively, around central inscription

  • Location: Reverse
  • Type: Design

Identification numbers

Accession number: CM.85-2005
Primary reference Number: 156599
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Thursday 5 February 2015 Updated: Thursday 5 February 2015 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 (2024) "First Class Medal" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-04-21 19:07:55

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{{cite web|url= |title=First Class Medal |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-04-21 19:07:55|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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