Awards Medals for Dominion Exhibitions Across Canada
By Gary Miller
In keeping with my recent theme of historical medals, I thought that I could demystify a Canadian medal I am often asked about. This particular example is in silver but they were also produced in gold and bronze. The obverse depicts a trumpeting angel flying right and holding a palm branch and a laurel wreath in her hands with “Dominion of Canada” above. The reverse features the Crowned Arms of the Dominion of Canada within crossed boughs of maple leaves with a beaver below. The medal was first issued as an award medal for Canadian prize winners at the United States Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876. The medals handed out in Philadelphia that year were engraved in the obverse field “Exhibition Phila 1876,” with the recipients name below the angel. We know from records that 12 Gold, 134 Silver and 193 Bronze medals were awarded.
The medals were struck at the Paris mint as requested by J. Perrault, the secretary of the Canadian commission. On the rim you will find the privy mark and either “OR, ARGENT or CUIVRE.” The dies were engraved by P. Tasset, a prominent French medallist and the impressive facilities of the Paris mint allowed for the medals to be designed, engraved and struck in time to deliver 200 of them to Montreal within two weeks of receiving the order by cable, at a cost of 1 Franc each! ( about 25 cents today, presumably the bronze examples)
From 1877 onwards, the medals were used as awards for Dominion Exhibitions across Canada and are more often found without engraving and , as such, are relatively common in bronze and silver, selling for about $100 and $200 respectively. Gold examples are scarce and bring thousands. Named engraved examples bring a good premium with bronzes bringing a few hundred, silvers $600 or more and several thousands for named gold medals.
Next time you see one of these iconic Canadian medals you now know a little more than most.