Oliver Cromwell, battle of Dunbar, 1650 medal, armoured and draped bust to the left, rev. an assembled Parliament, with speaker seated facing by Thomas Simon
Attractive patina, Approaching Very Fine. Beloved to be an 18th Century striking.
The most famous of Thomas Simon's medals of Oliver Cromwell are those conceived as military rewards for the 1650 battle of Dunbar. Struck in small and large sizes of identical design (Medallic Illustrations 391/13 and 392/14),
The English army, under Cromwell at his new post of Captain or Lord General, entered Scotland 22 July 1650 with about 16,000 men. The weeks of unsuccessful manoeuvering around Edinburgh resulted in the withdrawing English being trapped near Dunbar in south-eastern Scotland, which had been established earlier as a supply port. At the dawn of 3 September 1650 the English army saw its chance at surprise, turned on David Leslie's larger, but inexperienced forces, and virtually destroyed them. Cromwell's own account claimed that the Scots suffered casualties of some 3,000 killed and 10,000 captured against about 20 killed on the English side. Even allowing for exaggerations, there can be no doubt that this was a resound- ing victory, and it was by Cromwell's request that the English army's word or slogan at the battle, 'The Lord of Hosts', should appear as the legend on the medals struck in commemoration.
No records are known assigning a medal to any particular person or group, but obviously thousands of men would theoretically have been entitled to a reward. However, the generals and colonels would have been the most likely recipients
The origins of Simons dies now unkown however their documented travels are most interesting. Vertue (1753) mentions a Dunbar die (singular) as being found in the wall of a house in Suffolk, which once belonged to Richard Cromwell. A 1799 pamphlet on the exhibit of Cromwell's embalmed head" is of great importance for both obverse Dunbar dies were also on display. Earlier in the pamphlet it was said that a Mr James Fox the proprietor of the celebrated museum, which bore his name. Cox obtained the head of Cromwell in 1787, and apparently sold his museum, with the head and the dies, close to 1799 (the pamphlet said 'recently'). The next record is by Henfrey when he states, for the date of 16 July 1874, 'The original dies of the large Dunbar medal, two (obverse and reverse), of steel, much worn and cracked, and enclosed in a clumsy iron and now in the possession of Mr.A.B.Wyon . ..' Finally, a pair of large dies appeared at Sotheby's auction 21 July 1898 (lot 235), where they were sold to Williams for £21. The description was 'Cromwell. The original Steel Dies for the Obverse and Reverse of the celebrated Dunbar Medal, by T.Simon.
Over the past 300 years at least 2 restrike’s have been made from the dies previous owners. As recent as 2017 in a London auction house, a 18th century silver restrike from this series sold for £2100