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18th and 19th century agricultural prize medals and the dissemination,

democratisation and localisation of ‘useful’ agrarian knowledge in Britain.

Through a comparative study of the prize medals housed in the British Museum’s

Coins and Medals department, this thesis will examine the role of institutional

prize-giving in the development of agrarian science in 18th and 19th century Britain.

From the Royal Society of Arts to the Brecknockshire club for Agricultural 

Improvement, medals were awarded by societies for a host of improved practices and new innovations, and their issue would come to play a key role in the encouragement and proliferation of advanced methods of husbandry throughout rural Britain. Furthermore, given the variety of institutions that issued prize medals, they provide a unique visual timeline for the evolution of agricultural science in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Between 1750-1850, there is an observable aesthetic shift in the types of designs adopted by institutions for their medals, moving away from the classical motifs commonly associated with royal medallic art, toward more idealised pastoral scenes that reflected more acutely on the interests and practices of local institutions and subsistence communities. The changes in iconography and style not only raise questions about the societies issuing the medals and their recipients but could open up wider roads of enquiry about wider changes in social, political and cultural attitudes towards agriculture more broadly.

1st Supervisor: Anna Maerker (King's College London)

2nd Supervisor: Phillip Attwood (British Museum)



I am a 2nd year Phd Candidate working at both Kings and the British Museum. My research focuses on the material culture of science, with a specific interest in how changes in iconography and medallic design reflect on the development and spread of agrarian practices and early scientific ideas in late Georgian and early Victorian Britain.


Liam Fitzgerald, “Imperial iconography on the silver Ducalis: Cultural appropriation in the construction and consolidation of Norman royal power” in Designing Norman Sicily: Visual Stories of a Mediterranean Kingdom (Boydell and Brewer, 2020), 114-132.


Papers Given:

‘Above the want of money’: Prize medal production and design in 18th and 19th century Britain: Georgian Papers Programme Material Culture Workshop

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