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Medallion History

What Is a Medallion?

A medallion is a portable, flat, rounded disk. Usually made of metal, medallions typically feature designs on both sides. Often, they are worn in a similar way to necklaces, sometimes attached to ribbons. The value of a medallion is significant, as they are often given as sporting or military awards.

Medallions, in their proper form, are large – going from around 4 inches to larger sizes. Usually, medallions are not suitable for being worn, as they are too large. For this reason, medallions are often found in display cases. This makes them suitable as ornamental gifts.

Medallion History

Medallion History

In the past, most medals were commissioned for individual people. These medallions usually featured a portrait of the person in question. Medallions like these were frequently diplomatic or even personal gifts, rather than being rewards for sporting endeavours of any kind.

The earliest mention of medals existing is attributed to the historian, Josephus. Josephus recounted that the High Priest Jonathan received honorary rewards, such as a golden button from Alexander the Great for leading the Hebrews. Furthermore, Roman emperors used medals as both military and political gifts. These medals were frequently mounted and worn as jewellery by both men and women.

It became common practise in the Middle Ages for nobles to commission medals to be given to their allies to maintain and gain support from influential members of society. Materials used to make these medals were dependent on the social status of the intended recipient. Some materials were: gold, silver-gilt, silver, bronze, and lead.

Medals maintained these same functions through the following centuries up until the 19th century. At this point, military medals increased in production massively. Today, the most common medals produced are military medals, linking directly back to the origins of medallion history.

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