Historical and Commemorative Medals
Collection of Benjamin Weiss


WYON, William: England, 1844, Silver, 73 mm
Obv: Bust of Gresham    EMPORIVM REGIVM A. THOMA GRESHAM EQ. AVR. CIVE LONDINENSI CONDITVM A.S. MDLXXI (The Royal Exchange, Founded A.D. 1571 by Sir Thomas Gresham, Citizen of London)
Rev: Courtyard of Royal Exchange with statue of Queen Victoria, holding orb and scepter, in foreground. Above:  REST. ET. APERT. AVSP.
On the plinth of the statue:  A:S. MDCCCXLIV XXVIII OCT. (Restored and Opened under the Patronage of Queen Victoria, 28, October 1844)
Signed:  W. WYON R.A.
Ref: Taylor 146x; Eidlitz 989; BHM ii, 102/2185; Eimer 1390;  Weiss BW304

Sir Thomas Gresham (1519?1579) was an English merchant and financier. After the accession of Elizabeth I to the throne he spent most of his time in London but went on diplomatic and financial missions. He also accumulated a great private fortune as a banker, mercer, and merchant. He was the principal figure in the founding of the Royal Exchange, and he endowed Gresham College in London. His name was given to Gresham's law, the economic principle that in the circulation of money "bad money drives out good," i.e., when depreciated, mutilated, or debased coinage (or currency) is in concurrent circulation with money of high value in terms of precious metals, the good money is withdrawn from circulation by hoarders. It was thought that Gresham was the first to state the principle, but it has been shown that it was stated long before his time and that he did not even formulate it. (from Columbia Encyclopedia).
The original Royal Exchange building was completed in 1568 by Sir Thomas Gresham. It functioned as a common place for merchants to meet and transact business. It was destroyed by the great fire of 1666, rebuilt and destroyed again by fire in 1838 and was rebuilt once more in 1844, the event commemorated by this medal.
The wax model for this piece is in the Fitzwilliam Museum.

LINK to Biography of Sir Thomas Gresham (from Wikipedia)

LINK to Portrait of Sir Thomas Gresham (from National Portrait Gallery)