Commemorative medals – The Parliament Collection Victoria
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Commemorative medals – The Parliament Collection Victoria

November 25, 2019


Like many of us, as a kid I won a medal playing
sport. Although, something tells me that the medal I won will never be important enough
to be in Parliament’s collection. So, let’s go have a look at two that are. I’m here with Lucy Spencer,
one of the Parliament’s heritage team. Lucy, what can you tell us
about these medals? Here at Parliament, we’ve got some very special medals. This one here is the Emden Medal, which is comprised of a Mexican silver dollar and a commemorative mount. What does a Mexican silver dollar have to do with Australian history? Well, the medal is named
after the German light cruiser, the Emden, which was destroyed in the battle of the Cocos
Islands during WWI. It was outgunned by the HMAS Sydney and run aground. When Australian
forces boarded the Emden, they discovered a safe filled with over 6000 silver coines.
1000 of these were set aside to be issued as commemorative medals. How did the Parliament
acquire this one? Our medal was presented to the Parliament by the Commander of the
HMAS Sydney, Captain Glossop. For a medal that’s been through so much,
it certainly looks in fine shape. Yeah, although battered about, the coin is very beautiful. On the front here we have the Mexican eagle with a serpent in its beak. And it’s perched on
a Prickly Pear cactus. And above this we have ‘Republica Mexicana’. Now if we turn it over
we have a Liberty Cap and sunburst motif, and the denomination – 8 reales – and the
date, 1891. It’s amazing that something like a coin could hold such history around it. Now, the next medal is a little more traditional, what can you tell us about it? This medal commemorates Bert Hinkler’s
record-breaking solo flight from England to Australia in 1928. Who was Bert Hinkler? Hinkler was an aviation inventor and superstar, who was awarded the
distinguished service medal during WWI, for bravery, as well as many other medals and
accolades for his services to aviation. So tell us about the medal. The medal was designed by Charles Richardson
and minted by Stokes & Sons. Hinkler made his record-breaking solo
flight in sixteen days, and if you turn the medal over you can see the route of his journey
from London to Darwin. I can see there’s some writing there, what does it say? The inscription is Latin, and roughly translates as ‘he was carried to the southern shores by swift wings’.
In his day, Hinkler was truly reveared and invited onto the floor of Commonwealth Parliament
to be congratulated for this feat. Since his death, an electorate in his home state of
Queensland has been named after him and he’s even been recognised in song. Thanks Lucy. So there you have it, two medals,
two vastly different stories and one place they reside. You can see many pieces of our rich history
by taking a tour here at Victoria’s Parliament House.

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