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1876 Geological Society of London Bigsby Medal Wax Models by A.B. Wyon, Eimer-1653, BHM-3033, Original Box Included.

1876 Geological Society of London Bigsby Medal Wax Models by A.B. Wyon, Eimer-1653, BHM-3033, Original Box Included.

1,195.00

Each wax impression measures 64mm or 66mm with the paper surround. The Geological Society of London describes the medal as follows:

Founded by John Jeremiah Bigsby (1792 - 1881), and to be awarded biennially 'as an acknowledgement of eminent services in any department of Geology, irrespective of the receivers' country; but (s)he must have done no more than 25 years full time equivalent research, thus probably not too old for further work, and not too young to have done much'.

John Jeremiah Bigsby, MD was a pioneering English-born Canadian geologist. According to Leonard G. Wilson of the Geological Society:

In the years from 1817 to 1825 when Dr John Bigsby was stationed in Canada with the British Army, he studied the geology from the lower St Lawrence Valley to the centre of the continent. In sedimentary strata of the Great Lakes, he collected a wealth of fossils, many of unusual size. He described the mineralogy of the Canadian Shield, recognizing the igneous origin of the basalt precipices of the north shore of Lake Superior. In 1819 when the International Boundary Commission was surveying the western end of Lake Erie, the whole staff fell ill with malarial fevers and some died. Bigsby was appointed in 1820 as medical officer to the Commission. He accompanied the British survey team from 1820 to 1823 to provide medical care. In his leisure time he collected fossils from the shores of the Great Lakes. In 1823 Bigsby travelled by canoe with the surveyors completing the survey from Lake Superior to Lake of the Woods. During the journey he observed the great volcanic formations of that region. Bigsby returned to England in 1825, resigning from the British Army in 1830. He entered private medical practice but maintained a life-long interest in geology, particularly fossils.

The Bigsby prize remains one of the most prestigious awards bestowed upon members of the Geological Society of London. Its Canadian connection is equally important but under appreciated, having been left out of the standard Canadian references. J.J. Bigsby chronicled his time between Quebec — Montreal — Hawkesbury — Ottawa and then out to the Great Lakes in his 1850 book, The Shoe and Canoe: or, Pictures of travel in the Canadas, which provides fantastic insight into the personages and landscapes of colonial Canada. Bigsby’s work would lay the foundation for research later conducted by Sirs William Edmond Logan and John William Dawson, Canada’s preeminent geologists. This award was also won by another notable Canadian geologist and the son of J.W. Dawson, George Mercer Dawson, for whom Dawson City, Yukon is named. Dawson Creek, B.C., a small town in northern British Columbia along the Alberta border, was also named in his honour.

What’s interesting about these models, which would have been made to test the viability and appropriateness of the design, is that they differ somewhat from the awarded pieces (see images). Where the reverse of this model reads DISCOVERED 1822, the actual award medals show FOUND / 1822 / CANADA. It should also be noted that the struck medals appear in two sizes, 64mm and 46mm (Eimer-1653a and Eimer-1653b). According to Eimer the small-size medals were presented to winners.

Both impressions are well-preserved and housed in their original velvet-lined presentation case, itself in wonderful, minimally worn condition. A couple of linear marks are noted in the left field of the obverse model. The paper surround that encircles each cliché is notched and gilt at the top, contrasting starkly against the ruby-red wax.

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