Lot Archive


№ 964


1 December 2004

Hammer Price:

Royal Humane Society, large silver medal (successful) (Do. Edger (sic) vitam ob Restitvtam 1796), unmounted, slight edge bruising, minor contact marks, very fine £160-200

A 1st type medal, the dies prepared by Lewis Pingo (1743-1830).

In a letter addressed to the Treasurer of the Royal Humane Society, dated Fakenham (Norfolk) April 19th., Dr Thomas Edgar wrote, ‘Dear Sir, On the 12th of April, a storm of thunder and hail suddenly came on, succeeded by a most vivid flash of lightening. - I was requested to visit J. Mitchell, who was struck dead with lightening; and had been an apparent corpse half an hour: his eyes were much dilated; and the countenance exhibited a ghastly appearance. Visible marks of the electric fluid were on his knees, ancles (sic), and feet. I commenced the Plans recommended by your highly-valuable Humane Society, which, in three quarters of an hour, was productive of spasms, and the return of animation. - My patient took to his bed for some days; but, by strict medical attention he is now perfectly restored.’

Dr Edgar was one of several gentlemen awarded the Society’s Medal in Silver in 1796 for restoring to life those who had been apparently struck dead by lightning. A note in the Society’s minutes of the time records, ‘Persons struck dead by lightning have been often considered by many people as the immediate objects of Divine Wrath - by others, more charitably inclined, as the peculiar favourites of Heaven; while it has been concluded by both parties, that any attempt to restore them must not only be vain, but presumptuous. The success of the Royal Humane Society has corrected popular prejudice, and proved that persons, provided no fatal laceration ensued, may be restored to life.’

In a letter addressed to the Managers of the Royal Humane Society, dated Fakenham, June 3rd, Dr Edgar wrote, ‘Gentlemen, I have received the Medallion of the R.H.S. and assure you the Premium will be placed nearest my heart. That an Institution so honourable to the British Nation may meet with every possible success, is the earnest prayer of Thomas Edgar.’

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