Medal: Royal Academy of Music Charles Lucas medal for Composition awarded to William Manson, 1915.

Object type
William Manson
Medal: Royal Academy of Music Charles Lucas medal for Composition, awarded to William Manson, 1915. Obverse: Mercury teaching a shepherd boy to sing. Mercury (described in Pinches' catalogue as Orpheus, although he is wearing a hat attributed to Mercury) seated, unrobed, holding a lyre in his left hand. The instrument seems to be made of a skin-like material, possibly tortoise-shell. To his right, a young shepherd stands, holding a staff, watching and listening. Reverse: Legend HONOREM CAROLI LUCAS APUD REGIAM MUSICAE ARTIS ACADEMIAM OLIM INTER PRISTINOS DISCIPULOS ADSCRIPTI DEINDE PRAESIDIS OBIT MDCCCLXIS AET: LXI.

High relief. Signed obverse T. WOOLNER DES, lower left. J.PINCHES FEC, lower right. Inscribed around the rim WILLIAM MANSON 1915. In a glass and silver rim bezel, the obverse glass broken. The medal was designed in 1872 and exhibited at the Royal Academy in the same year. Modelled after a small bronze seated Mercury excavated at Herculaneum in 1758. Silver, unpolished.
Date made
Note from 1944 Prize book: The Charles Lucas Prize. A silver medal, founded by subscription as a memorial of Charles Lucas Esq, born 1808, died 1869 (Principal of the Academy from 1859 to 1866), is competed for annually in the Midsummer Term by composers who shall have been studying in the Academy throughout the three consecutive preceding terms, and is awarded to the one who may be judged to compose the best work, of which the subject shall be named by the committee two months before the date of the competition. The medal was struck in both silver and bronze by John Pinches. The large preparatory design in plaster was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1872 (no 1576) with the description 'Mercury teaching a Shepherd Boy to sing'. A plaster medallion of the same subject is listed in Woolner's studio sale 1913 (lot 195).

A letter to Miss B. Stanley Lucas from L. Gurney Parrott, Secretary to the Royal Academy of Music, dated 9th July 1942, records that 'in normal times the cost of this medal is about £4 but this year it will be as high as £7, including the Purchase Tax which is 45%. The quality of the metal is also lowered proportionately. In a number of cases this year we have decided to have a Token Bronze Medal and at a very much reduced cost, leaving any unexpended balance to be given to the winner. In thie case of the Charles Lucas Medal, the cost of the Token Medal will be 35/-. I am wondering whether you would approve of this course of action. I should add that the design and size of the medal are, of course, the same as before'.

A letter from John Pinches Limited to H. Stanley Creber, Secretary, Royal Academy of music, dated 26th January 1967 records that 'the cost of the Charles Lucas Medal in silver complete in a velvet lined recessed case would be £9.2.6d. with engraving extra, approximately 15/-. When this medal was supplied many years ago a special feature was made of the mount. It was made dead white under heat and assembled in a silver bezel with crystal glasses back and front. The price above does not include this elaboration and I might find it difficult in any case to get the glasses specially ground which was the procedure in days gone by'.

A further letter from Mr G.J.C. Hambling, Administrator, Royal Academy of Music, to Mr M.A. Stride [family of Charles Lucas], dated 19th March 1982, records: 'I note that you have been in contact with John Pinches (Medallists) Limited regarding the original die for the medal and what the cost would be today to produce a medal in silver or in some base metal. I do not know whether you have heard from John Pinches but I find that in a letter dated 26th January 1967, John Pinches quoted the cost of a silver medal as being £9.2.6d. I should imagine that the cost today would be many times more than John Pinches' quotation in 1967'.

Private William Braithwaite Manson 6492, 1st Battalion, London Scottish, studied the Royal Academy of Music, having previously from 1908 attended the choir school at the Chapel Royal, St James's, where he met and became friendly with Sir Thomas Armstrong. He was killed in the Battle of the Somme on 1st July 1916. Under Sir Thomas Armstrong's directorship of the Royal Academy of Music, and with the assistance of Academy's chairman and members of staff , the Manson Fund was established through William Manson's parents, and also the setting up of the Manson Room. The Manson Ensemble is also named after him. Other members of William Manson's family associated with the RAM include former students Sir Warwick Braithwaite and his sons, conductor Nicholas Braithwaite and the former Chairman of the Royal Academy of Music, Sir Rodric Braithwaite.
metalwork, award, classical, mythological, lyre, composer, commemorative
silver, glass
Object type
Type Length Width Height Diameter Unit (length)
medal 60 mm
Accession No
Woolner, Thomas, sculptor
Lucas, Charles, Principal, Royal Academy of Music


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