The Crimea War Medal 1854 -1856

    Instituted 15th December 1854 for award to British (and some of the French forces) that took part in the campaign against the Russians on the Crimean peninsular and the surrounding waters.
     Description: In silver, 36mm diameter with an ornate swivelling suspender. Obverse, the diademed head of Queen Victoria and the legend VICTORIA REGINA  and the date 1854. Reverse, the standing figure of a roman warrior with shield and short sword being crowned with laurel by the winged figure of Victory. The word CRIMEA is vertically positioned at 9 o'clock. Bars Issued: Five, in the distinctive ornate oak leaf and acorn pattern; ALMA, BALAKLAVA, INKERMANN, SEBASTOPOL and AZOFF.
  The official British strikings have the date 1854 on the obverse (see picture) and  have both the designers' signatures -  obverse; W. WYON RA. on the truncation of the bust and  Reverse; B. WYON SC. at 4 o'clock. although a second type is also encountered with the reverse signature omitted. ( also see below regarding French unofficial strikings)
  Naming: issued unnamed, but could be returned to the mint for naming. Those returned for naming were impressed in a style similar to the Military General Service Medal 1793 -1814.This style is termed 'officially impressed' by collectors. The majority of medals to fatal casualties of the campaign were allegedly issued already named. A large number of recipients chose not to return their medal but have them privately engraved by jewellers or similar and hence turn up in a variety of engraved styles. A third option is termed 'Regimentally' or 'Depot' impressed in which some degree of organisation appears to have been created to get men's medals impressed. A variety of depot styles exist, often with a common pattern to a specific regiment.
Ribbon; light blue with yellow edges.

(Also see: Medals of the Regiments for qualification by regiment for Infantry and Cavalry units.)


Officially Impressed Regimentally Impressed Engraved
Neat uniform roman capitals
similar to the MGS 1793 - 1814
Various. different letter dies used. Patterns emerge to some units/ regiments Various. done by military tailors, jewellers and watch makers.
Running script style common.
Desirability 3 highest
3 2 1


Bars issued,  action date  (and authorisation or announcement date in brackets)

Alma   †
20th September 1854
(15th December 1854)
25th October 1854
(23rd February 1855)
Inkermann   †
5th November 1854
(15th December 1854 )
11th Sept 1854 - 9th Sept 1855
(13th October 1855)
25th May - 22nd September 1855
(2nd May 1856)
  The medal and the two clasps 'Alma' and 'Inkermann' being instituted on the same day


The French.
   Napoleon III accepted the award of the British Crimea Medal for his troops by decree dated 26th April 1856. 93,000 French served in the campaign. Allegedly medals arrived first - the bars arrived at some later date which explains the high percentage of no bar medals and medals with unaffixed bars encountered in France. At least two unofficial local French strikings of the Crimea medal also exist. 1) The Wyon signature omitted but with the initials "E.F."  next to the 1854 date.  2)  obverse unsigned and undated.
    Unofficial French bars in the same design as the official models exist : TRAKTIR, TCHERNAIA, MALAKOF, KINNBURN,  MER d'AZOFF, MOULIN  (with possible variants:  KINBURM, MOULIN VERT, MALAKOFF ?) I assume the unofficial medals were struck for those who did not  receive the official British version (which was not universally issued to the French ).
Naming: The vast majority remained unnamed as issued although I have seen French medals impressed with the recipients details in neat capitals with a star impressed as a separator between each of the words on the rim.



The Crimea Medal






above; bar detail.


crimea medal official naming



Above two pictures; Officially impressed naming,
neat regular roman capitals - letter height about half the width of the rim.



Above; a typical impressed regimental or "depot" style naming - this one large thin Capitals.



Above : An original Crimea medal unnamed as issued - ready for the forger? 
Fraudulently named medals to the highly desirable Light Brigade Chargers, the Heavy Brigade,
93rd Foot (Thin Red Line) have been faked with engraved or regimentally impressed naming
over the years - Caveat Emptor !


Crimea Medals at the Horse Guards. May 18th 1856


Above: Her Majesty distributing Crimea Medals at the Horse Guards. May 18th 1856.


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