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eMedals-United Kingdom. A British Empire Exhibition Medal 1925

Item: GB6505

United Kingdom. A British Empire Exhibition Medal 1925



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United Kingdom. A British Empire Exhibition Medal 1925

Great Britain; Bronze, obverse illustrating the left-facing bust of King George V, surrounded by the inscription "GEORGIVS V BRITT OMN: REX ET IND: IMP:" and engraver marked "B.M." (Bertram Mackenna) at the base of the bust, reverse illustrating three women, the woman in the foreground bent over and carrying a bundle of wheat sheaves, the woman in the centre standing and holding a small house in her hands, the standing woman at the back resting her hands on a lever with a large wheel in front, with the faded engraver mark "P.M." (Percy Metcalfe) at the lower left, 51.2 mm, edge nicks, surface wear, contact marks, very fine.

Footnote: The British Empire Exhibition was a colonial exhibition held at Wembley Park, Wembley, Middlesex in 1924 and 1925, running from April 23, 1924 to October 31, 1925. In 1920, the British Government decided to site the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley Park, on the site of the pleasure gardens created by Sir Edward Watkin in the 1890s. A British Empire Exhibition had first been proposed in 1902 by the British Empire League, and again in 1913. The Russo-Japanese War had prevented the first plan from being developed and the First World War put an end to the second, though there had been a Festival of Empire in 1911, held in part at Crystal Palace. One of the reasons for the suggestion was a sense that other powers were challenging Britain on the world stage. Despite victory in the First World War this was in some ways even truer in 1919. The country had economic problems and its naval supremacy was being challenged by two of its former allies, the USA and Japan. In 1917, Britain had committed itself eventually to leave India, which effectively signalled the end of the British Empire to anyone who thought about the consequences, while the Dominions had shown little interest in following British foreign policy since the war. It was hoped that the Exhibition would strengthen the bonds within the Empire, stimulate trade and demonstrate British greatness both abroad and at home, where the public was believed to be increasingly uninterested in Empire, preferring other distractions, such as the cinema. Wembley Urban District Council were opposed to the idea, as was The Times, which considered Wembley too far from central London. This sounds ridiculous, especially as the Metropolitan had been electrified by this time, but it has to be remembered that the last exhibition in England, the Franco-British Exhibition of 1908, had been held at White City, a far more central location. A world tour headed by Major Ernest Belcher in 1922 that lasted 10 months was mounted to promote participation in the Exhibition, with Agatha Christie and her husband among the participants. The British Empire Exhibition would run from 1924 to 1925 and made Wembley a household name. In 1919 the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) had become the President of the organizing committee for the proposed Exhibition at Wembley Park, north-west London, although the closing ceremony was presided over by his brother, the future George VI. The Prince, at the time, also wished for the Exhibition to boast "a great national sports ground", and so exercised some influence on the creation of Wembley Stadium at Wembley Park in 1923. It was opened by King George V on St. George's Day, April 23, 1924. The British Empire contained 58 countries at that time, with only Gambia and Gibraltar not taking part. It cost £12 million and was the largest exhibition ever staged anywhere in the world, attracting 27 million visitors.

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