The first Methodist commemorative medallions (or historical medals) were struck in 1770 on the death of George Whitefield. Similarly, medallions were struck in 1791 when John Wesley died.
From 1836 to 1838 medallions were struck in connection with the annual Wesleyan Conferences and these were followed in 1839 by a variety of medallions struck at the time of the Wesleyan Centenary celebrations. Five of these medallions struck in silver, bronze and white metal were the work of C.F.Carter, a leading medallist of the time, and the two largest are handsome pieces having on the obverses the busts of John Wesley and Charles Wesley respectively. Subsequent connexional issues included medallions struck in connection with the Jubilee of the Primitive Methodist church (1860), the centenary of the death of John Wesley (1891), the Wesleyan Twentieth Century Fund (1901), the Primitive Methodist Centenary (1910) and the Wesleyan Missionary Society Centenary (1913).
From the 1840’s onwards, however, by far the greatest number of medallions issued were to commemorate important events relating to individual chapels and Sunday schools including the laying of foundation stones, openings, jubilees and centenaries. Mostly struck in white metal, a few were struck in silver or bronze. Whilst Wesleyan Chapels and Sunday schools predominate, medallions were also issued by Primitive, New Connexion and United Free Methodist chapels and Sunday schools.
Recent commemorative medallions include those struck for the Bicentenary of World Mission (1986), the 250th Anniversary of John Wesley’s ‘Conversion’ (1988) and the Tercentenary of John Wesley’s Birth (2003)
Medals were awarded by Methodist Sunday Schools as prizes, particularly as rewards for good attendance but also as examination prizes and, in a few instances in connection with district or circuit festivals. Some of the prize and attendance awards were available from the Wesleyan Sunday School Department and later from the Methodist Youth Department but others were issued locally in relation to specific Sunday schools. Medals were also awarded for attendance or as prizes by a few Methodist schools and colleges. Although prize medals were mainly struck in base metals, some were struck in silver and exceptionally, a very few in gold.
Medal awards were made by Methodist Bands of Hope, usually using the variety of general band of hope medals available but a few medals specific to individual Methodist Bands of Hope exist. Connexional JMA. medals were first awarded in 1903, bars being awarded from 1904 onwards. A few individual circuits and churches issued their own awards to collectors for overseas missions A small number of Methodist sporting medals are known.
Collections of Methodist medallions and medals are held by the Museum of Methodism, Wesley’s Chapel, London and by the Englesea Brook Chapel and Museum. Some examples are held by Epworth Old Rectory and the New Room, Bristol.