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Delhi Darbar 1903: Brilliant UNC Silver Medal (MYB # 306)

Started by mitresh, September 14, 2013, 11:56:04 AM

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Delhi Darbar Medal, 1903, Silver, 86 mm (Length), 40 mm (Width), 38 mm (Diameter), 35.8g, blue silk ribbon, uninscribed

Only 2,567 Silver Medals were awarded to military and civilian officials who actually attended the Darbar. These Medals were also struck in Gold (140 pieces) that were awarded to the Indian Maharajas and Princes that attended the Darbar.

Note (source: Wikipedia, internet)

The Delhi Durbar (Hindi: दिल्ली दरबार, Urdu: دلّی دُربار‎), meaning "Court of Delhi", was a mass assembly at Coronation Park, Delhi, India, to mark the coronation of a King and Queen of the United Kingdom. Also known as the Imperial Durbar, it was held three times, in 1877 (Empress Victoria), 1903 (King Edward VII), and 1911 (King George V), at the height of the British Empire. The 1911 Durbar was the only one attended by the sovereign, who was George V. The term was derived from common Mughal term "durbar".

The Durbar of 1903 was held to celebrate the coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra as Emperor and Empress of India. The two full weeks of festivities were devised in meticulous detail by Lord Curzon. Neither the earlier Delhi Durbar of 1877, nor the later Durbar held there in 1911, could match the pageantry of Lord Curzon's 1903 festivities. In a few short months at the end of 1902, a deserted plain was transformed into an elaborate tented city, complete with temporary light railway to bring crowds of spectators out from Delhi, a post office with its own stamp, telephone and telegraphic facilities, a variety of stores, a Police force with specially designed uniform, hospital, magistrate's court and complex sanitation, drainage and electric light installations. Souvenir guide books were sold and maps of the camping ground distributed. Marketing opportunities were craftily exploited. Special medals were struck, firework displays, exhibitions and glamorous dances held.

Edward VII, to Curzon's disappointment, did not attend but sent his brother, the Duke of Connaught who arrived with a mass of dignitaries by train from Bombay just as Curzon and his government came in the other direction from Calcutta. The assembly awaiting them displayed possibly the greatest collection of jewels to be seen in one place. Each of the Indian princes was adorned with the most spectacular of his gems from the collections of centuries. Maharajahs came with great retinues from all over India, many of them meeting for the first time while the massed ranks of the Indian armies, under their Commander-in-Chief Lord Kitchener, paraded, played their bands and restrained the crowds of common people. On the first day, the Curzons entered the area of festivities, together with the maharajahs, riding on elephants, some with huge gold candelabras stuck on their tusks. The durbar ceremony itself fell on New Year's Day and was followed by days of polo and other sports, dinners, balls, military reviews, bands, and exhibitions. The world's press dispatched their best journalists, artists and photographers to cover proceedings. The popularity of movie footage of the event, shown in makeshift cinemas throughout India, is often credited with having launched the country's early film industry.

The India Post issued a set of two commemorative souvenir sheets with special cancellation struck on 1 January 1903 - 12 noon, a much sought after item for the stamp collectors today. The Aga Khan III used this occasion to speak out for the expansion of all types of educational facilities in India. The event culminated in a grand coronation ball attended only by the highest ranking guests, all reigned over by Lord Curzon and more so by the stunning Lady Curzon in her glittering jewels and regal peacock gown.
In the quest for Excellence, there's no finish line.


I like that flourish at the top, making the first two lines look like a "relaxed" toughra. Why did they insist on two European sides for BI coins, when an Indian side would have made these coins so much more attractive?

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


The only reason I can think of is that the whole process was conceptualized and executed by the British officials thereby excluding the 'natives' for any input into the Darbar ceremony itself as well as the design and award of the Medals.  The Darbar was an act OF THE RAJ, BY THE RAJ, FOR THE RAJ!! The common man, as usual, then and now, constituted the toiling masses gathered at the fringes 'ooh-ing' and 'aah-ing' at the spectacle of pomp and splendour.
In the quest for Excellence, there's no finish line.


This particular example is one of my fav's... Thanks for the thread Mitresh!!  :)

Unlike the 1911 medal (which was struck at the Calcutta Mint), this one was struck at the Royal Mint in England.

Just in case if you are interested in the numbers...

Gold - 144 - Awarded to and wearable by Ruling Chiefs. Others who received this medal were to view it as a memento only and were issued a silver medal for purposes of wearing.

Silver - around 2,500 - To those actually present in Delhi on official duties. All the Mutiny veterans there received the medal, but other classes were limited. Military awards were given out at the rate of 6 per cavalry regiment and 8 per infantry battalion. Great care was exercised on the civil side in restricting the numbers awarded.


In the quest for Excellence, there's no finish line.


How come the obverse on first medal says 1903 whereas the reverse says 1901?


Edward VII was crowned in 1901 following the death of Queen Victoria whereas the Delhi Durbar was held in 1903.
In the quest for Excellence, there's no finish line.


Slight modification to that, Edward VII became King in 1901 upon the death of Queen Victoria on January 22, 1901, but was not crowned until August 9, 1902.

The date selected for the coronation was June 26, 1902, by the 24th of June King Edward VII, who was suffering from perityphlitis, required urgent surgery. Consequently, the coronation was postponed and the coronation service was subsequently held on August 9, 1902.
Have a look at  my tokens and my banknotes.


In the quest for Excellence, there's no finish line.


This is a miniature of the Calcutta Mint medal of 1911. 18.5 mm. I'm impressed that the swivel actually works on something this size.