Art Medals have a rich and varied history across Europe and were first produced in Italy in the 17th century. Since then they have been struck to celebrate great people and events in history as well as being used prestigious prizes for art, literature and the sciences.
The Seven Signatories 1916 collection is a set of seven 51mm high relief art medals made to the highest quality in bronze alloy and commemorating the contribution made by the seven signatories of the 1916 Proclamation of an Irish Republic. Each medal carries a portrait of one of the seven signatories who were court marshalled and executed for their part in the 1916 Rising.
The portraits are taken from seven charcoal sketches by Irish artist Robert Ballagh from 1996 while the reverse of each show an original design crested by him for the centenary of the Easter Rising.
The reverse design shows the flag of the Irish Republic emerging from the rubble of the destruction of Dublin brought by the British army suppression of the rebels.
The portraits are in high relief and are stunningly detailed due to the die making method used to create the stamping dies Each portrait is hand rendered in plaster at a size of 300mm diameter and using traditional pantograph machines they are reduced in stages to the 51mm size of the medal dies themselves thus preserving the detail of the original plaster. This process allows a level of detail that is unsurpassed. There is no digital or computer technology used in this process. The reverse side is made by the same method and this results in a spectacular 3D effect which shows off the reverse design to great effect.
The dies are set in a coining press face to face and a bronze blank is placed between them. The medals are struck using 4 strokes of the press and are annealed between each stamping. This is because the metal hardens under pressure and needs to be softened to increase malleability for the next stroke.
Due o the extreme pressures exerted on the blank the stamping process causes flashing at the edges of the medal. In effect the metal blank expands beyond the edges of the dies and this is machined off by hand in a lathe.
The bronze stampings are then hand patinated to accentuate the detail of the stamping relief and are lacquered to preserve the finish. Because the patination process is carried out by hand there will be slight variations in finish from medal to medal.
The medals are housed in a wooden display case that has a transparent panel in the hinged lid so the medals can be viewed from the outside. Also included is a numbered certificate which carries a facsimile print of the Proclamation document as well as information about each of the signatories and technical specifications of the medals.
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