Medallions essentially fall into two categories – Commemorative Medals and Prize Medals. The former are medals that commemorate some particular event in history and may be either officially issued or privately issued – the latter covering all sorts of events, often with a political or personal slant. Commemorative medals have their roots in Imperial Rome and particularly flourished in renaissance Italy in the fifteenth century.
The first British medallic issue is thought to be a portrait medal of Henry VIII struck in 1545 commemorating him as head of the church and from then on the practise of commemorating events in medal form flourished, particularly with the work of such master engravers as Briot, Simon, Roettier, Croker and the Wyon family. With the invention of mechanical striking the artform reached its zenith in the late 18th. and 19th centuries and some spectacular medals were issued as seen by the deeply engraved and large medals of the City of London series.
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