The Australian Numismatic Society

A Paper given at the June 2020 online Conference

John Lee Awarded For Sheep by Judy Blackman, ANS member, FONA, KStE
In Colonial Acres Coins January 22nd, 2017, special annual token auction, I purchased this 1863 Leeds Smithfield Club 45mm 3-D
(very high relief on both sides) medal awarded to Mr John Lee for sheep. When I went to take it out of the 2x2, I discovered the edge
of the medal was stuck on Scotch tape the owner must have used to fix a tear in the cellophane of the holder. Unfortunately, there is
now a mark on the right-hand side of the obverse from the tape residue. For numismatic interest, I’ve included the 1867 Leeds English
Wool Markets, I was unable to get the 1863 but this gives a good idea.

The Farmer’s Magazine includes a section dedicated to the Leeds Smithfield Cattle Show. It references the Leeds Smithfield Club
(founded December 17th, 1798) as an permanent institution as leading provincial winter exhibition for fourteen years, publicly-attended
with “about 10,000 persons visited the yard on each of the two first days” (Tuesday and Wednesday) and “on Thursday the attendance
was still larger.” Prizes include cash prizes from Mayors and agricultural societies, medals, award cups, and ribbons. Categories for l
ivestock include Cattle-Ox (Shorthorns and Other Breeds), sheep, pigs,  Subcategories for sheep are Leicester or Long Wool and Other
Breeds (South or other Down wethers, Cross-bred wethers, Horned Scotch, Lonk or Mountain wethers).  There are categories for
non-livestock agriculture such as Roots (wurzel, turnips, potatoes). For the 1863 show, sheep medals were First and Silver.

In 1863, a special Divine Service was given to the club for the first time by the Vicar of Islington for the men in charge of the live stock,
and this has been continued ever since.  From 1862–1938 the club shows were held at Agricultural Hall (Islington, London).  The club
show was in 1960 re-named Royal Smithfield Club (on the granting of royal status by Queen Elizabeth II), and the shows discontinued
after 2004 after farm machinery manufacturers and suppliers declined to take part, due to the high costs. After this, club festivals were
hosted by agricultural societies until 2011 when it established its own show again. 
In 1863, the club’s show was called The Greater Smithfield Club Show: “The show of sheep was very superior, general excellence
distinguishing alike the long-wooled and short-wooled sheep. The Leicesters and South-Downs fully sustained their reputation as the two
leading English breeds — the latter having been better represented, if possible, than ever before. Mr. Rigden carries off the cup with the
handsomest pen of South-Down wethers he has ever yet exhibited.  For fine points and good frames, breed, mutton, and wool, these
uttlerly eclipse all his previous efforts, as they do the other sheep entered against them.”  I’ve included English Wool Markets as thought
it may interest you, this is from The Farmer’s Magazine 1867 as I could not locate the 1863 market information.
SERIES EDITED BY PROFESSORS MORTON AND SIMONDS”  on page 57 in a Memorial To The Late Jonas Webb (of Babraham),
there is reference to his Leeds Smithfield Club friends, and      included in the list is John N. Lee (no Esq., only Mr.).  There are 25 names
listed followed by an “&e.” Included for special mention, are Hon. Elliot Yorke, M.P. for Cambridgeshire, Mr. Cox, M.P., and Professor Simonds.

Unfortunately, I exhausted numerous resources trying to find out more about John Lee. He may have been one of the two John Lees
listed in the British   Industrial-Agricultural Guide shown here. Usually the medals read “Esq.” or “Esquire”  - a title of respect accorded
to men of higher social rank, above the rank of gentleman and below the rank of knight.  It later came to be used as a general courtesy title
for any man in a formal setting, with no precise significance. It remains an indication of a social status recognized in the formal Order of
Precedence. Given this medal reads “Mr.”, and given having read several Leeds Smithfield Club publications in The Farmers Magazine and
other, Esquire was used, therefore, I have to believe Mr. John Lee, was not of significant social status. Because of that, he likely was not an
owner of either of these business, but that is only my opinion, so I leave it to the reader to determine probability under their own assumptions.

I really love these agricultural, horticultural, and hunting and shooting medals of the 1800s, but as is most common, I rarely can raise any
specific information about the award recipient. 

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14th June 2020