Wyon, Joseph Shepherd (1836-73; English)
Melbourne Exhibition Medal 1854
Medium unknown, c.6.4 cm in diameter
Donated by W.Brown, by 1861
Location unknown (possibly Museums Victoria)

The 1854 Melbourne Exhibition was staged in a purpose-built structure in William Street (on the site where Melbourne’s Royal Mint was built later). On a much smaller scale, both the enterprise and the building echoed London’s Great Exhibition, held three years earlier in the Crystal Palace.

For the building, used for subsequent Melbourne exhibitions until the construction of the present Exhibition Building in 1879-80, see also Gill Melbourne Exhibition Buildings 1854 {1868?} SLV [PR].

[comparative photo: reverse of silver medal held by Museums Victoria (item 76266)]

The official 1854 prize medals (minted in London) depicted the Exhibition building, on the obverse, and a miner, shepherd and farmer presenting the fruits of their labours to Britannia, on the reverse. Museum Victoria holds a number of examples, in both silver and bronze, awarded to various exhibitors: see e.g. photo at right. One of these may be the medal previously in the pre-Felton NGV collection; or it may have been the plaster model.

Wyon, a member of a noted family of English medallists, succeeded his father Benjamin (1802-58) as Chief Engraver of Seals. He often worked in collaboration with his younger brothers, notably Alfred (1837-84). The most famous member of the family, William Wyon (1795-1851), was chief engraver at London’s Royal Mint from 1828 until his death; he designed the prize medals for the Great Exhibition of 1851.

An unofficial medal, in tin, designed by William Barclay, was also minted for the 1854 exhibition, by the Kangaroo Office: for details and a reproduction, see Museums Victoria catalogue (item NU 20169), noting that it was transferred from the NGV in 1976.


MPL cat.1861, p.lviii (noting the donor as W.Brown); NGV 1880, p.32 (under “Medallion Casts”; no information given about medium) 

For the Museums Victoria medals, see https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/77722 (silver medal as shown here) and others in bronze, e.g. https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/76266 (photographers unknown; with further information provided by D.Tout-Smith 2003; accessed 6 Sept.2019). The SLV holds a Sydney International Exhibition 1879 medal by Joseph’s brother Alfred: SLV H2014.186/2 (refer catalogue for details) 

For the various members of the Wyon family, refer Wikipedia. For the 1851 Great Exhibition medals, see e.g. https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O1262138/exhibitors-medal-for-the-great-medal-wyon-william/ (also accessed 6 Sept.2019)

For the medal by Barclay, see https://collections.museumsvictoria.com.au/items/59425 (accessed 26 Oct.2020)