Paton medal makes it way to Memorial
by David Sorensen
A commemorative medal featuring Memorial’s first president John Lewis Paton has ended up in the QE II’s archives division, following a circuitous route across England and North America.
The medal was likely created to honour Dr. Paton’s stint as headmaster of the Manchester Grammar School in the U.K. Dr. Paton served as headmaster from 1902-1924.
He moved to Newfoundland as the first president of Memorial University College where he served from 1925 to 1933.
The medal, dated 1924, was purchased by Richard Closson in 2003. The California resident picked up the bronze medal from a coin dealer in Stuttgart, Germany, on the online auction site EBay.
When he discovered that Paton was Memorial’s first president he e-mailed the university to see if there was an interest in it.
“I am … interested in getting the medal in the hands of someone who appreciates it,” he wrote at the time.
“In finding this medal, I was just concerned that a connection to the scholar it depicts could be lost without a little followup. There are probably plenty of situations where a similar medal languishes in a desk drawer, to be taken out occasionally and wondered about.
“Paton and this medal seem worthy of better.”
Mr. Closson was subsequently contacted by Bert Riggs, head of the QE II Library’s Archives and Manuscripts Division, who let him know that the library was very interested in the medal.
“The medal you have in your possession would certainly have a place of honour here,” wrote Mr. Riggs.
Mr. Riggs said the medal was probably minted to recognize Dr. Paton’s departure from the Manchester Grammar School. There is a larger plaque on display at the Manchester School which is similar to the medal but contains additional information about Dr. Paton’s tenure at the school. Both are the work of Irish sculptor John Cassidy.