The Royal Mint has released a unique and special edition of Pistrucci’s Waterloo Medal – a masterpiece of minting art in all its glory – to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo and pay tribute to those who never received this magnificent honour.
After the epic battle had finished raging The Royal Mint struck more than 37,000 Waterloo Campaign Medals to mark the bravery of those who fought in the conflict, and another accolade was commissioned: a second, splendid medal by the renowned engraver Benedetto Pistrucci.
This was to be presented to the heads of the allied countries and the commanders involved in the battle as a majestic tribute to great men, but tragically Pistrucci’s Waterloo Medal went unstruck in his lifetime and was never received by its intended recipients.
A life’s work of numismatic genius, the medal took Pistrucci 30 years to complete and once finished the design could not be struck because of its size, and all due to receive the medal had died.
Now you can finally own his original design, struck in fine silver with an 80mm diameter, carefully crafted by The Royal Mint where the vision was first conceived and perfected.
Pistrucci’s conceptual workings and original tools have been revisited by The Royal Mint in order to complete the medal, resplendent in all its glory and bearing the original inscriptions as wrought by the master engraver’s own hand – never before seen on a medal.
The ornate medal bears Pistrucci’s original design, inspired by Greek mythology, as you might expect from the creator of the legendary St. George and the dragon that is seen on The Sovereign each year.
The heads of the four allied nations feature at the centre of the obverse: Prince Regent (later George IV), Francis II of Austria, Alexander I of Russia and Frederick William II of Prussia. Surrounding these busts is an allegorical representation of the Treaty of Peace that emerged from the battle (the Latin inscription ‘Federe Junctis’ alluding to the treaty itself), based on Pistrucci’s early workings and original vision. The symbolic composition includes Apollo restoring the day and Themis, Goddess of Justice, who is placed next to the sovereigns as a symbol of the importance of order.
The reverse represents the mythical ‘Battle of the Giants’ where the giants are said to have unsuccessfully challenged the Olympian Gods. In this composition, Pistrucci depicted 19 figures struck down by the thunderbolts of Jupiter – 19 for each year of the Napoleonic Wars. At the centre of the reverse is a pair of powerful steeds, ridden by characters bearing the features of Wellington and Blücher, both guided by the winged figure of Victory, who was also depicted upon the Waterloo Campaign Medal.
Shane Bissett, The Royal Mint’s Director of Commemorative Coin and Medals said:
“The story of Pistrucci’s Waterloo Medal is one of great men, politics and passion, a story that has captured the interest of collectors for two centuries. In order to remain as authentic and true to the original as possible we have revisited the early workings of Pistrucci and tools held in our vaults to carefully recreate the design for this landmark anniversary. The medal is rich in symbolism and has been struck in the highest relief to showcase its stunning mythology-inspired design. After so many years since he first imagined his magnificent masterpiece, it is our honour to complete Pistrucci’s legacy and bring this legendary medal to life.”