Medals have been used throughout history to celebrate and reward achievement and continue to be used to this day. Alexander Kirkwood & Son have been creating medals since 1826 for thousands of clients across varied fields. Medals are used from an early age – nearly everyone can remember the allure of a medal at their school’s Sports Day! At University, students can be awarded ‘Class Medals’ (AK&S make them for many of the leading Universities in the UK including St Andrews). Medals are also created as special awards - such as the Livingstone Medal (see below) presented by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society to the likes of Sir Ranolph Fiennes and Sir David Attenborough.
Medal making is an art, the starting point of which is a design. The design can be created by Alexander Kirkwood & Son based on a brief, or you may already have a design in hand. Once agreed, the size of the medal is decided – normally 1.5”, 1 ¾ “ or 2” - however larger medals are possible (see 4" Old Tom Morris Medal example below). With the size and design decided, AK&S can create the ‘die’ – a heavy cylinder of steel with the design engraved in relief at one end. If your medal has two sides then two dies are required – one for the reverse and one for the obverse. With the die or dies finalised, medal stamping can begin. With our specialised equipment, we stamp out the medals in a metal of your choice – this can be in precious metal (gold or silver) or in metals such as copper which can be finished in a gold or a silver plate. Once stamped, the medals are finished by ‘edging’ (filing the rough edges) and specialised cleaning. Finally, the medal can be engraved and hallmarked if required.
The process of medal making can take some time – please allow 6-8 weeks for your order.
3 stages in the process of medal making
1. Hand-drawn design
2. Finished die
3. Finished medal
Examples of Medals produced by Alexander Kirkwood & Son
Alexander Kirkwood & Son created the prestigious ‘Livingstone Medal’, awarded by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in recognition of ‘outstanding public service in which geography has played an important part, either by exploration, by administration, or in other directions where its principles have been applied to the benefit of the human race.’ Named after the African explorer David Livingstone, it was endowed in 1901 by his daughter, Agnes Livingstone Bruce. Designed by the sculptor James Pittendrigh MacGillivray, it has a portrait of Livingstone on the front and a depiction of the Spirit of Civilisation on the reverse. Alexander Kirkwood & Son created the dies from this design and have struck the medals since the award’s inception. Sir Harry Johnston, a British explorer, botanist and zoologist was the first recipient of the medal in 1901. Over the years, others have included Sir Edmund Hillary, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, Michael Palin and Sir David Attenborough.
Made by Alexander Kirkwood & Son at the end of the 19th century, to commemorate the 700th Anniversary of the Mayoralty of London (1189-1889). It was used by the Corporation of the City of London as a gift. The obverse side (shown above) depicts Richard I (who reigned in 1189) and Victoria (on the throne in 1889, the 53rd year of Her Majesty's reign). Shown above the monarchs are seven entwined circles emblematic of seven centuries. Below is shown St George, the Patron Saint of England.
The reverse (see 3. Finished Medal), depicts St Michael handing the Sceptre, Chain, Sword and Shield of the new Mayoralty to "London", seated on Cornucopia, and already presented by him with City Purse, Keys and Cap of Dignity, in honour of the Office. St Michael stands with left foot resting on Old London Bridge (of 1176) behind him, and right foot advanced. The Tower of London, dating from the 11th century, lies between, connecting the past with the present. In the background are, The Crown, the source of all Civic Authority, The Dome of St. Paul the Patron Saint of London, The Towers of Westminster Abbey, Cleopatra's Needle on Thames Embankment, Old Temple Bar, and The Mansion House, the Official Residence of the Lord Mayor. Written above, "The Powers that be are ordained by God."
Created by Alexander Kirkwood & Son, to commemorate two of the greatest players in the history of golf, Tom Morris and his son, "Young Tom".
"Old Tom" or Thomas Mitchell Morris (1821 to 1908) is often referred to as "The Grand Old Man of Golf". Born in St Andrews, Fife, he started playing golf and caddying at a young age and became an apprentice to Allan Robertson, regarded as one of the world's first professional golfers. After some time in Prestwick, Tom returned to St Andrews to be hired by the Royal & Ancient club as Keeper of the Green and Professional. He was an outstanding player, winning the Open Championship in 1860, 1862, 1864 and 1867. His son, "Young Tom" (1851 to 1875), followed his father's legacy, winning the Open consecutively for 4 years from 1868, a feat that is unmatched.
This wonderful 4" medal can be ordered in any metal / finish, engraved on the reverse and used as a wonderful prize, gift or memento.
The Glasgow School of Art Chairman’s Medal recognises the best undergraduate and postgraduate students each year, from each of their 5 world-renowned schools*. The medal, an unusual square design, is 60mm, finished in bronze and fitted with a beautiful, tailored, royal blue ribbon. The medal is inscribed, “WHO HATH DESERVED” and features a bird, the branch of a tree, a bell, a fish and a ring, all of which feature on the Glasgow City Crest (dating back to 1488). These symbols represent the life and legends of Saint Mungo, the patron saint of Glasgow, and are often remembered by the following poem:
Here is the tree that never grew
Here is the bird that never flew
Here is the fish that never swam
Here is the bell that never rang
Here is the ring that never wed
Here is the book that’s never read
* The 5 schools within Glasgow School of Art are: The Macintosh School of Architecture, The School of Design, The School of Fine Art, The School of Simulation and Visualisation and The Innovation School.
The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland was founded in 1784. Today, it exists to support the very best standards in agriculture, forestry and stewardship of the countryside. With over 16,000 members, the society strives to inspire innovation, excellence and achievement. To recognise and reward dedication to the industry, the RHASS awards Long Service Medals, supplied by Alexander Kirkwood & Son. Individuals who have been in full time employment in rural, agricultural and support service industries for over 30 years receive a Hallmarked Sterling Silver enamel medal, and for those over 40 years, a Hallmarked Silver Gilt (Gold plated) enamel medal. Recipients also receive a certificate and receive lifetime access to the world-famous Royal Highland Show, which this year celebrates its 200th year. The medals themselves are struck using a stamping die (pictured) with a medal press. They are then enamelled, plated, hallmarked and engraved on the reverse with the recipients name and years of tenure.
Founded in 1834, the Edinburgh Geological Society aims ‘to encourage public interest in geology and the advancement of geological knowledge’, running a varied programme of excursions and lectures.
The Society awards the Clough Medal bi-annually – presented to a geologist whose original work materially increased the knowledge of the geology of Scotland and/or the north of England, or any geologist working in Scotland or the north of England who has significantly advanced the knowledge of any aspect of geology.
Charles Thomas Clough (1852-1916) was a prominent British geologist, famous within his field for his work in the North West Highlands and Hebrides of Scotland. He moved to Edinburgh in 1884 whilst working for the National Geological Survey, and in 1908 became President of the Edinburgh Geological Society, a post he held until 1910.
The Edinburgh Medal was instituted by the City of Edinburgh Council in 1988. Struck in Sterling Silver and Hallmarked, it is awarded every April to an individual whose achievements in science and technology are judged to have made a significant contribution to the understanding and well-being of humanity. The winning recipient gives a lecture at the International Science Festival.
Royal Portrush Golf Club in County Antrim, Northern Ireland was founded in 1888. It’s renowned worldwide having hosted more than 60 national championships including nine British Ladies’ Amateur Championships and The Open Championship (the only venue to host outside of Great Britain). The club will host the championship again in 2025.
On April 10 2022, Royal Portrush hosted a major new one-day 36-hole stroke competition for amateurs, competing for the Zara Bolton and Ian Bamford Scratch Cups. Special commemorative medals featuring the 5th green with the ruins of Dunluce Castle behind, produced by Alexander Kirkwood & Son, were presented to the winners.
Zara Bolton was a three times Curtis Cup captain, leading the team to victory in 1956. She was a member at Royal Portrush until her death in 1994. Ian Bamford was one of the club’s longest serving members and donated a solid silver replica of the Irish Open Amateur Championship cup which he won at Royal Portrush in 1957. He is a former Royal Portrush captain and was president of the Golfing Union of Ireland in 1993.
Tennis Scotland is the independent governing body for Tennis in Scotland. As part of the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association), their mission is simple – ‘Tennis Opened Up.. by making tennis relevant, accessible, welcoming and enjoyable’. Alexander Kirkwood & Son have been proud suppliers to Tennis Scotland, providing medals and awards.