History 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.