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History and past recipients of the medals and awards
2017 medals and awards

History and pasts recipients of the Medals and Awards

From its foundation, the Society received an annual grant of 50 guineas from the reigning monarch to be awarded with royal approval 'for the encouragement and promotion of geographical science and discovery'.

Initially the Award was given in money, then from 1836-38 as a Royal Medal.

In 1839, it was decided to divide the Award and from that year onwards, the Society has awarded two Medals, the Patron's Medal and the Founder's Medal. Both are of equal value and merit.

The Medals were made in fine gold except during the years 1918-21 when they were made in bronze.

From 1975 they have been made in silver gilt. Medals were not awarded in the years 1850, 1851, 1855, 1943 and 1944.

The Founder's Medal

Designed by W Wyon, is engraved with the recipient's name and date of the award. One side of the Medal displays the bare head of King William IV and on the reverse side is the figure of Minerva standing in front of a globe, holding a wreath and a scroll. A sextant and other surveying instruments lay at her feet.

The Patron's Medal

Designed by W Wyon (and subsequently A Wyon; AG Wyon) is engraved with the recipient's name and date of the award. One side of the Medal displays the head of young Queen Victoria and on the reverse side is the figure of Minerva (as above).

The heads of Edward II, King George V, Edward VIII, George VI, young head of Elizabeth II have also appeared on the Medal.

2017 medals and awards

Congratulations to 2017's medals and awards recipients!

Presentation of the Royal Medals and other Awards of the Society took place during the Society's Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 5 June 2017, at the Society in Kensington, London.

View the full list here

Full list of recipients

The Society’s medals and awards have long recognised outstanding achievements to geographers, from eminent scientists, school teachers, early career researchers and those involved in policy making.

Neil Armstrong, Sir David Attenborough, Sylvia Earle, Simon King, Neil Oliver, Professor Lord Nicholas Stern and Professor Edward O Wilson are among the more well-known recipients.

  • Full list of medals and awards recipients from 1970 - 2016 (PDF) 
  • Gold Medal recipients (PDF)

    For more information about the history of the medals and awards, and past recipients, please consult The Geographical Journal.

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