By Nicholas Pike, Jeweller and Designer, PIKE Jewellers
From the late 1800’s to the present day, the look of the Magarey medals has varied in shape and detail, most of them hand fabricated with the predominant use of hand engraving and carving. They have also been crafted by many different Adelaide jewellers.
Among the many shapes used there are cross shapes with four arm sections similar to the Coptic cross, various circular shapes with borders, star shapes of five points, six points and even twelve points, sunray shapes, most of them symmetrical and some more free form.
From 1915 -1921 there were many medals with a central portrait and in the mid 1930‘s medals featuring enamel colour inlays.
Whether intentional or not, the varied range of shapes seems to repeat throughout the years with the addition of the long oval shape in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Outer surrounds featuring laurel wreath motifs were used, even crossed flags, and many medals feature a single football, with a predominance of this symbol in the 70’s and 80’s.
My involvement with the medals occurred in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s because I was serving a jewellery apprenticeship with a manufacturer who had the contract to produce work for many retailers including G.W.Cox ‘My Jeweller’ situated on Rundle Street, Adelaide.
Our workshop staff all contributed to different sections of the hand-made components and created the medals, initially in the first two medals with more elaborate wreath edges, all hand engraved by Reg Jenkinson who I worked with. In 1970 the decorative detail was asked to be simplified eventually to the oval shape of the football field, complete with goal posts and a central football. 1973 was the final year I was involved.
It is fascinating to see the many design influences and the way they seem to reflect the era in which they were made. I remember feeling very honoured to be part of such an iconic medal production and proud to know the footballers who achieved the high level of award for their skills.
I have also been fortunate to have assisted more recently in preparing some of the medals for display.
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