Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Some obscure anniversaries

Who knew that January 29th was the 200th anniversary of the death of British King George III? Or cared, you say.

But Arthur Burns and Liam Fitzgerald of the Georgian Papers Programme are on the case. They note that Britain's Royal Mint has actually produced a coin for the event, and explain why that is a particularly Georgian tribute:
Medallic art and culture had reached its zenith by the beginning of the nineteenth century. At this time medals were being issued at a variety of social levels, both to celebrate significant figures, and as prizes awarded by societies for innovations in farming, industry and commerce, as well as discoveries in the natural sciences. The ubiquity of the medal derived from the fact that it held a dual function. In one sense, medals were devices that conferred social distinction, converting the recipient into a physical embodiment of achievement for others to emulate. On the other hand, unlike other honorary prizes, medals also had a monetary value based on the metal from which they were made, and so could be also exchanged for financial reward. Therefore, from the Royal Society of Arts to the local improvement club, by the end of the eighteenth century medals had become a byword for achievement and prestige.

Meanwhile, Le Devoir notes the centenary of the founding of the Archives Nationales de Quebec in 2020, inspired by the politician Athanase David and first led by Pierre-Georges Roy. The staff union notes in the article that despite all the new expectations put upon archives, particularly in the digital realm, 2019 marked the first time in many years that there were no actual cuts in staffing.

Photo credit: Le Devoir.
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