The 1911 George V Silver Coronation Medal: A Piece of History in Your Hands

The King George V Coronation, a landmark event in the United Kingdom’s history, commemorated through the issuance of the 1911 George V Silver Coronation Medal, remains a fascinating subject for numismatists and historians alike. Beyond its intrinsic value, this medal serves as a tangible connection to the pomp and ceremony that characterised the early 20th century British monarchy. Handed out to honour the coronation of George V, these medals not only encapsulate a significant royal event but also reflect the artistic and cultural milieu of the era, making them a coveted piece of history.

This article delves into the rich narrative behind the 1911 George V Silver Coronation Medal, exploring its design, features, and the criteria for its distribution. Readers will gain insight into the meticulous process involved in its creation, from the conception at Buckingham Palace to the hands of the recipients. Moreover, the article will cover the rarity and market value of the medal, providing a comprehensive guide for collectors. This exploration of the iconic king’s coronation medal invites enthusiasts to deepen their appreciation for a key piece of the United Kingdom’s regal memorabilia.

History of the 1911 George V Silver Coronation Medal

The 1911 George V Silver Coronation Medal holds a significant place in the annals of British royal memorabilia. King George V instituted this medal to commemorate his coronation on June 22, 1911. It was groundbreaking as the first British Royal commemorative medal awarded to individuals who did not attend the coronation.This inclusive approach extended beyond the ceremony’s attendees, reaching dignitaries, officials, and members of the armed forces across Britain and the Empire.

Key Distribution Details:

  1. Special Ceremony at Buckingham Palace: On June 30, 1911, King George V personally presented the medals during a notable ceremony organized in the palace grounds. This event highlighted the 300 members of the Colonial and Indian contingents representing overseas troops in the Coronation procession.
  2. Widespread Allocation: The United Kingdom authorities decided the total number of medals to produce and allocated a proportion to each of the colonies, Crown dependencies, and Commonwealth countries. Local government authorities then exercised discretion in awarding the medals, deciding who among their ranks would receive this honor.

Total Medals Awarded:

  • Overall Distribution: Authorities awarded a total of 15,901 medals, underscoring the wide reach and significance of this event.
  • Specific Note on Australian Recipients: They awarded 286 medals to Australians, illustrating the medal’s reach across the Commonwealth.

This medal not only commemorates a key historical event but also reflects the broader political and social connections within the British Empire during the early 20th century.

Design and Features of the Medal

The 1911 George V Silver Coronation Medal, designed by the Australian sculptor Bertram Mackennal, showcases exquisite craftsmanship and artistic detail, reflecting the grandeur of the occasion. The medal measures 32 millimetres in diameter and is crafted entirely in silver, highlighting its ceremonial importance and aesthetic appeal.

Obverse Design

The obverse displays the joint busts of King George V and Queen Mary, both crowned and facing left. A decorative border frames this portrayal, with a spray of roses on the left edge and a sprig of laurel on the right, symbolizing victory and celebration. An entwined ribbon links these elements at the base, enhancing the medal’s visual harmony.

Reverse Design

On the reverse, the medal presents the GVR cypher, an ornate and interlaced design topped with the Imperial crown. Below this, the date of the coronation, “22 JUNE 1911”, is prominently displayed. This side of the medal is encircled by a narrow, ornate border, adding to its regal and commemorative quality.

Ribbon and Suspender

The ribbon attached to the medal features a dark blue color with two central red stripes, each approximately 4 mm wide, reflecting the colors of the Garter. A simple, circular ring serves as the suspender, allowing the medal to be worn with dignity. For awards given to ladies, the ribbon is fashioned into a bow. The police version of the medal features a red ribbon with three narrow blue stripes, distinguishing their service.

This detailed description of the medal’s design not only highlights the artistic elements but also underscores the significance of the 1911 coronation event, making it a prized collectible for enthusiasts of royal memorabilia.

1911 George V Silver Coronation Medal obverse

Distribution and Recipients

The distribution of the 1911 George V Silver Coronation Medal was extensive and targeted various service organisations, reflecting the medal’s significance and the breadth of its reach. Notably, the medal issuer assigned ten different types of reverses, each signifying the recipient’s organization, indicated on the reverse side of the medal.

Rarity and Market Value

With a mintage of just over 25,000 units, collectors consider the 1911 George V Silver Coronation Medal a valuable collectible. Several factors, primarily its condition, visual appeal, and the size of its collector base, influence its rarity and market value.

Factors Influencing Rarity

  1. Mintage Numbers: They produced a total of 25,241 medals, making each piece relatively rare.
  2. Preservation Condition: Collectors particularly seek out well-preserved coins that show minimal signs of wear, as these tend to fetch higher prices.
  3. Unique Design Features: The artistic merit, designed by Edgar Bertram MacKennal, also plays a crucial role in its collectibility and, consequently, its rarity.

Current Market Value

The factors mentioned above can significantly influence the market value of the 1911 George V Silver Coronation Medal. Specialists experienced in assessing such items can help collectors determine the current market value of their medals. These experts consider the preservation state and distinct characteristics that might enhance the medal’s value. To obtain a precise valuation, collectors should provide detailed descriptions or images of their medals for a more accurate assessment.


Throughout this exploration of the 1911 George V Silver Coronation Medal, we have unearthed its rich historical context, intricate design, and the particulars of its distribution, which collectively underscore its significance not only as a piece of royal memorabilia but also as a marker of British heritage and the global reach of its empire during the early 20th century. The dedication to commemorating King George V’s coronation through these medals reflects a poignant moment in British history, captured through the artistry of Bertram Mackennal and the broad distribution strategy that ensured a wide and varied audience of recipients, spanning dignitaries to service members across the Commonwealth.

The rarity and market value of the coronation medal further amplify its allure to collectors and historians, driven by the meticulous detail of its design and the narrative embedded in its creation and distribution. As custodians of history, collectors of the 1911 George V Silver Coronation Medal possess not just an object of material culture but a tangible link to a bygone era that continues to resonate in the collective memory of the nation and its historical legacy. It stands as a testament to the intersection of monarchy, ceremony, and community, inviting further reflection on its place within the broader tapestry of 20th-century British and Commonwealth history.

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