An electrotype is a replica of a coin or medal which is made in two parts, the obverse (the ‘heads’ side of the coin with the portrait or main design) and the reverse (the ‘tails’ side of the coin), produced through a process which is like silver-plating. The size and weight of the copy differs a little from the original but the copy is otherwise a faithful one.
Electrotypes can be really useful where a museum or collection does not hold the original of a coin or medal that is especially relevant and important to them or their local area. These two electrotypes of medals associated with Oliver Cromwell are a case in point. The stories of the English Civil War and the career of Oliver Cromwell are intertwined with the history of Worcester and its surrounding county.
The museum holds electrotype copies of two medals associated with Cromwell: the Lord Protector Medal of 1653, originally struck in gold and silver, and the Death Medal of 1658, taken from an original struck in gold. Cromwell died on 3 September 1658; seven years to the day after his victory at the Battle of Worcester. Originals of both of these medals are extremely rare and without electrotype copies examples would not be available in public collections in our county.
These pieces are from a large collection of electrotypes in the collection of Worcester City Museum that includes copies of coins and medals dating from the time of the Ancient Greeks to the nineteenth century. They were produced at some time in the nineteenth century and for decades the entire collection was displayed in black and gold frames lined with purple velvet, around the balcony of the City Museum.
Thanks to Garston Phillips for his knowledge about this object.