Members of the WWI consortium group were treated to a rare view of the lump of metal used to make Victoria Cross medals. The metal is taken from the cascabels of two Russian cannons which were captured at Sevastopol during the Crimean War. Every Victoria Cross awarded since 1856 has been cut from this metal.
The Victoria Cross is the highest gallantry award available to British and Commonwealth servicemen. Within the British military system there had previously been no award open to all ranks, the VC is awarded without any distinction as to rank or service. To date there have been 1,358 medals have been issued to 1,355 recipients, 523 were awarded during the First World War.
The medals are made by the court jewellers, Messers Hancocks & Co, London. Unlike any other award for gallantry the Victoria Cross is not made in a die. It is not struck, as are coins and many other medals, it is cast. Traditionally it is sand cast in moulds usually containing four specimens at a time. The medals are removed from the sand moulds when the metal has cooled, and then the hand finishing process begins. The obverse and reverse is hand chased even to the minutest detail and the whole medal has a special bronze finish applied at the end of the process.
The VC metal has been kept at the Donnington Depot since 1959.