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"The Bell Medal" - Know Anything About It?


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Can anyone tell me anything about this coin/medal? I found it while clearing out my dad's house. One side has "The Bell Medal" while the other reads "Presented by The Society of Miniature Rifle Clubs"

No idea about its age or where it came from.

EDIT - I found this on a collectors website "Presented by The Society of Miniature Rifle Clubs. This is the term they used for small bore rifles. The first medals specific to competitions appeared in 1907, 1908 and 1909 for the Queen Alexandra Cup, in 1909 for the Bell Trophy and Dewar International Match, and in 1911 for the Daily Express Competition. Attractive Award medal. "

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Edited by Jessie The Jeep
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I don't have knowledge about medals but due to the age it may well be an "upper class" thing if you see the shooting figures on the medal, they are wearin traditional jacket and hats that the royals were seen to wear when shooting in that era, 3 of them are aiming or shooting, but not the 4th? Perhaps they are a loader?

Perhaps awarded at an "inter-college" or "inter-school" competition?

 

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On 12/10/2019 at 8:11 PM, Jessie The Jeep said:

My dad wouldn't have been born and my granddad would have been about 17 for the 1909 Bell Trophy, but I'm not sure what connections he would have had in Tyneside to put him into a shooting competition.

Great grandfather or even great-great grandfather? 

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It doesn't fit the other side of the family history, but who's to know if it was traded for smokes or won by shooting. Only my grandfather would have been available to take part at the time. I'll probably never know how it came into the family, but at least I've found out a little about it.

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The Society named on the medal was the forerunner of the National Smallbore Rifle Association. I think the change was around the late 1940's so it is quite possible the medal is not as old as you think. From what I found out it appears the medal was available to member clubs for them to present to their members. One example I found was for the Highest Aggregate, maybe that was its purpose.

regards, Richard

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  • 4 weeks later...

I’ve just bumped into this thread, so have joined up as I can help about the Bell Medal.

The Chas R E Bell Challenge Trophy looks as shown on the Bell Medal, is silver and wood, stands 104cm high and weighs 43kg. It was made by the Goldsmiths and Silversmiths Co Ltd and bears a London hallmark for 1908. It was presented to the Society of Miniature Rifle Clubs in 1909 by Charles Bell, President of the R Bell and Co Rifle Club.

A Bell Medal was issued annually to each club affiliated to the SMRC, for award in a club competition or however else the club chose, in each year from 1909 to 1939.  During that time I estimate that about 55,000 were issued. From 1940 a certificate was given instead. It was normal for a person to win the Bell Medal or certificate only once, but that person was then entitled to shoot in the main competition for the Bell Trophy for life and without having to pay the entry fee. The competition for the trophy was held at one of the SMRC meetings (the SMRC changed its name to the National Small-bore Rifle Association in March 1947) and continues to this day, now alternating between the NSRA’s National and Scottish Meetings. The 2019 competition was held last August at Bisley Camp and the 2020 competition will be shot in July at Lauder in the grounds of Thirlestane Castle.  The current course of fire is 20 shots each at 50 metres and 100 yards, shot in the prone position with a .22 target rifle.

Since the Bell Medal lasted so long, it was inevitable that more than one set of dies would be used to produce it. In fact 13 dies of the obverse and nine of the reverse have been identified and the engraved examples that I own or have seen means I can tie most of the dies’ period of use to a very few years. Fortunately the photos you provided were very good and your medal is clearly made from the first dies used and was thus issued between 1909 and 1913.

As part of my research on the Bell Medal, I have also collected the names of about 16,000 winners (out of 55,000 awarded), so there is a chance that I may be able to locate a record of its presentation to one of your ancestors. If you care to let me know the name of your Grandfather, I’ll be happy to check. Don’t worry about his relative youthfulness in 1909 – quite a number of the medals were won by youngsters, for example school pupils and members of the Church Lads Brigade in particular.

I notice that your surname is Carr, but that may not be the name of the Grandfather you are talking about. There was a Bell Medal won by J T Carr of Grimsby Fisherlads in 1912, but this is presumably too far south!  However another Carr, this time with initials T E and a member of the Walker and Wallsend Union Gas Co Rifle Club, won the Bell Medal in 1913, which is just inside the timeframe and very close to the required locality. The other Carrs who won medals in the right period had initials J W, T A, T W and two W’s, but they are all well away from the Tyne area.

If there are any other surnames in your family in the 1909-13 period which might be in the frame, I’ll be happy to check them out as well, including the other Grandfather’s surname, of course!  Age is not an issue – the winner could have been a teenager or into his 70s. Also bear in mind that some Bell Medals were won by ladies, quite a few rifle clubs having lady members and there also being some clubs exclusively for ladies.

Bell Trophy.jpg

Edited by Brian Woodall
Incorrect name
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That's an amazing response - Thank you. Having read through the post and seeing the initials, opens up other possibilities. My Grandfather was Joseph O. Carr, who's initials don't seem to match. However, he has an older brother, William Carr, who was 5 years older, born in 1887. He went into the Gordon Highlanders in WW1. He's a possible contender.

My Great Grandfather down the Carr line was John R. Carr and Great Great Grandfather was James R. Carr. Neither seem to fit in the with initials you provided, but William, Joe's brother could well be the man who took part.

 

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  • 4 months later...

Don't know if it's of interest, but I have an identical Bell Medal in my possession.  According to the note slipped in with the medal, it was awarded to my father at his prep school in 1938 for scoring 69 out of 70 in a shooting competition.  I guess this fits in nicely with the excellent information provided by Brian.

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BunnyBoy  -  Your post is most interesting - are you able to let me have some more info, please?  The name of your father to start with and I can check this against the list of known winners. The chances of finding it there is probably a little less than 50:50, but always worth a try. Also if you could provide a scan of the medal - both sides will help, but the trophy side is the more important as these changed more often. Indeed one die was used in 1937 and 1938 and a different one in 1939, though the reverse side came from the same die in all three of these years.

Jessie the Jeep  -  Sorry I have not responded to your last two posts (a variety of problems).  Firstly, I'm afraid there is no Magub in the list.  Of the Carrs, you mention William who may well have had some Scottish connection leading to him joining the Gordon Highlanders. Of the two W Carrs I mentioned, one was from near Tewkesbury, but the other was a member of Grantully Rifle Club, not far from Pitlochry in Perthshire. He won the Bell Medal in 1910, when your Great Uncle would have been in his early 20s.  This opens another line of enquiry for me. During World War I the SMRC had a Roll of Honour, a scheme where rifle clubs reporting their members who joined the forces received a scroll or certificate and the names of the individuals and the units they joined were published in the SMRC's journal, The Rifleman. I'll try to find the relevant edition, but a summary in one of the SMRC Handbooks towards the end of the War records that 22 men from Grantully RC had joined up by the end of 1916.  I'm not sure if I will have the right volume/s at home; unfortunately it/they could be at Bisley Camp, in which case it could be some time before I can lay my hands on them!

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Sadly H J Warren of Carn Brea Prep School does not appear on my list.  However the excellent photos you added are very clear on the detail and shows up the differences between it and the 1909-13 medal shown at the beginning of the post.  For example the shape of the lion's tail (to the left of the shield) are different. Also the area below the trophy plinth is completely smooth on your medal, whilst in the top medal it is textured.

In my personal collection I have seven medals from the same dies as yours which are either engraved with the winners details or are not engraved but have provenance back to a specific shooter who is named as a Bell Medal winner in The Rifleman.  Of these two were won in 1937 and the other five in 1938.  So your medal and the note certainly support each other in terms of date.

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A quick update on the William Carr of Grantully Rifle Club. Unfortunately I do not have at home the list of Grantully members who joined up.

Many of you who regularly research subjects by going through old material know that from time to time when looking for one thing, you come across some interesting piece about something else that you were looking at months or years ago. Yesterday I was looking for Carr and Grantully. Today I have been looking for information on a rifle club in London which went out of business in 1914. So what do I bump into during today's reading.

First the Febuary 1912 edition of The Rifleman has a report on the club's annual New Year's Day shoot.  Not only did William Carr shoot, but another prize-winner was Peter Carr. Might this be a name known to you?

Then in the very next edition there was another report about Grantully. It reads:

"Mr William Carr, the Secretary of the Grantully Rifle Club, met with an unfortunate shooting accident whilst superintending one of the weekly competitions at the miniature rifle range on Thursday evening. It is the rule for each competitor to fire ten shots at a target before rising from the firing point; but apparently some competitor, whilst putting his tenth cartridge in his rifle, omitted to close the breech and fire off the shot. Rising, he placed the weapon in the rifle rack, leaving in the cartridge. The next member to take the rifle proceeded to close the breech, when the shot went off, the bullet entering Mr Carr's leg, going right through the bone and lodging in the calf.

"Doctors Mackay, Aberfeldy, who were wired for, were promptly in attendance, and successfully extracted the bullet and dressed the wound."

Back 100+ years ago there was clearly a much more laid-back approach to such happenings compared with what would happen now. No "send for the police", "shut down the range", "get in the health and safety wallahs", "write a new risk assessment" or "sue anyone and everyone in sight". I recall another case where a member of the host team was shot during a shoulder-to-shoulder match between two clubs. The injured man was attended to and, on the sportsman-like proposal of the visiting team, the match continued, but with one fewer member in each team!

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8 minutes ago, Brian Woodall said:

Back 100+ years ago there was clearly a much more laid-back approach to such happenings compared with what would happen now. No "send for the police", "shut down the range", "get in the health and safety wallahs", "write a new risk assessment" or "sue anyone and everyone in sight". I recall another case where a member of the host team was shot during a shoulder-to-shoulder match between two clubs. The injured man was attended to and, on the sportsman-like proposal of the visiting team, the match continued, but with one fewer member in each team!

A very different world then, and more fun. 

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18 minutes ago, Brian Woodall said:

A quick update on the William Carr of Grantully Rifle Club. Unfortunately I do not have at home the list of Grantully members who joined up......

I don't know of a Peter Carr, in our family tree, but that doesn't mean there wasn't one. As for William, I don't have enough information about him to say whether it was or wasn't him. His grand-daughter now lives in Canada, so perhaps she may know a little more about his life at this time. What is a little odd is why the medal came down my side of the family. Perhaps Joseph and William took part, but you haven't got any documentation or his participation in the 16,000 winners names you have collected. We may never know the full story, but I'll gather up all the information in this thread and drop an email to Canada to see if any of it ties up with history his grand-daughter has found.

If you come across anything else, I'd love to know, but what you have shared so far have been fascinating. Thank you.

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Posted (edited)

@Brian Woodall

It would appear that the William Carr you found isn't related to me. I had an email back from Canada saying that the family moved to Aberdeen between 1913 and 1915, based on the birth registration certificates of two of his children. Prior to moving to Scotland, he'd lived in Wallsend. William may or may not have been involved in the shooting competition. Considering the Bell medal we have remained in our family and was found with a number of my granddad's WW1 medals and artifacts, I think it is more likely that it was won by my Granddad Joseph.

Edited by Jessie The Jeep
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