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How elegant Armistice Anniversary medals found sanctuary at Shrine of Remembrance

How elegant Armistice Anniversary medals found sanctuary at Shrine of Remembrance

Glenn Burghall has been researching connections between Britain’s 1928 Armistice Anniversary medallion and the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne. In this timely contribution, Glenn reveals how the famous medallion came to be on permanent display at one of Australia’s most important war memorials.


Keen eyed visitors to Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance may have noticed two large medals mounted at the entrance to the Inner Shrine, also known as the Sanctuary.

They are in fact the obverse and reverse of Charles Doman’s Armistice Anniversary medal, struck by the British Royal Mint for issue in 1928. Portraying Edwin Lutyens’ Cenotaph in Whitehall, and a figure of Britannia supporting a young warrior with a sheathed sword, just 7,000 of these medals were produced in a variety of metals.

Few are known to have reached Australian shores. Among those that did, versions are held by The Perth Mint and by Museum Victoria, but the precious silver examples to be found at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance probably have a more interesting history.

These are the medals that were presented to the committee overseeing the construction of the Shrine in 1930 by the then Deputy-Master of the Melbourne Branch of the Royal Mint, W.M. Robins.

Image: Glenn Burghall

Robins had high regard for Doman’s work, noting the common meaning in the medal design and the intended purpose of the new Shrine. In the new era of peace, those who had served in the War were to be supported, while those who gave their lives were honoured and remembered.

According to Robins1, the medal “was beautiful in conception and elegant in execution and design”. So impressed was he by the symbolism that he suggested to General Sir John Monash that Doman’s “exquisite production” should be incorporated in some way in the decorative scheme of the Shrine. The suggestion was favourably received and subsequently approved.

It is appropriate that the face of the medal depicting the Cenotaph is mounted closest to Melbourne’s city centre. Here, on the steps of the Parliament in Spring Street, a half-sized replica Cenotaph made of plaster and wood was erected prior to the Anzac Day Parade of 1926. In the years before the completion of a permanent memorial, this temporary structure played an important role in the community’s commemorations.

Image: Glenn Burghall

Though the Whitehall Cenotaph is inscribed with the words ‘THE GLORIOUS DEAD’, Doman preferred the biblical inscription ‘THEIR NAME LIVETH FOR EVERMORE’ for his medal. These words are also found on Stone of Remembrance monuments at Commonwealth battlefield cemeteries all across the Western Front. Thus he adeptly linked the final resting places of the fallen to the memorial at home where Australians went to grieve and remember them.

Newspapers in Australia featured widespread coverage of the Royal Mint’s release of the Armistice Anniversary medal, providing detailed descriptions of Doman’s designs and their meaning. It is worth noting that the sculptor’s initials ‘C.L.J.D.’ appeared on an early version of his depiction of the Cenotaph. They were removed from his final rendition, however, resulting in the work being incorrectly attributed to another artist.

1  Royal Mint’s 60th Annual Report (1929)

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Lavish coins celebrate platinum anniversary of Queen’s ‘austerity’ wedding

Lavish coins celebrate platinum anniversary of Queen’s ‘austerity’ wedding

A royal wedding is cause for much rejoicing. When Prince William married Kate Middleton in 2011, a million people lined the procession route in London to glimpse the newlyweds while many more around the world watched on television.

Arguably, the marriage of the Prince’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, was one of the most welcome and celebrated royal weddings in history.

In 1947, the nation was still recovering from World War II. Austerity was tough for the people of Britain’s bomb-damaged cities. Drab clothes, endless queues and limited food supplies dominated everyday life.

In this atmosphere, the marriage of Princess Elizabeth to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten provided blissful relief from years of worry and deprivation. Cheerful crowds gathered in London on the cold morning of 20 November, their unbridled joy erupting in a thunder of cheers as the bride’s coach headed towards Westminster Abbey.

After the ceremony, the throng’s good natured enthusiasm reached fever pitch, at one point causing the police to temporarily lose control as the crowd burst through the cordon into Buckingham Palace forecourt.

Throughout the Commonwealth, millions of adoring supporters also celebrated the glamorous couple’s nuptials thanks to live radio broadcasts and the new medium of television.

Despite the pageantry, the royal couple were very aware of their people’s hardships. Here are seven interesting examples of how Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh showed solidarity with the people on their big day.

Seven remarkable facts about the Queen’s wedding

  • Princess Elizabeth paid for material in her wedding dress with the aid of ration coupons.
  • The future Queen did her own makeup for the wedding.
  • When her borrowed diamond tiara broke on the morning of the wedding, repairs were quickly made by the court jeweller.
  • Philip is said to have brushed off his naval uniform for the occasion and worn darned socks.
  • The guest list for the wedding breakfast comprised a mere 150 people.
  • Pieces of the couple’s wedding cake, made from ingredients donated by the Australian Girl Guides, were distributed to school children and institutions.
  • The bride and groom also instructed that 500 cases of tinned pineapples received as a wedding present from the Government of Queensland should be directed to the people.

Juicy pineapple from the Sunshine State must have been an unimaginable luxury for the hungry folk lucky enough to taste it!

70th Anniversary of the Royal Wedding
2017 Silver, Gold and Platinum Proof Coins

After 70 years of marriage, The Perth Mint is proud to mark Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip’s platinum wedding anniversary with four unashamedly lavish Australian commemorative coins featuring designs approved by the Queen.

Immaculately struck in proof quality from 1oz of 99.99% pure silver, 2oz of 99.99% pure gold, 1/4oz of 99.99% pure gold and 2oz of 99.95% pure platinum, each coin portrays the Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom alongside the shield from the Coat of Arms of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

As well as St Edward’s Crown, the intricate design also includes a floral display representing the symbolic rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock.

Housed in presentation packaging, the releases are restricted to limited mintages of 5,000, 350, 750, and 250 respectively.

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