Dating from the middle of the 19th Century, this half cased 1/6th plate glass ambrotype photograph appears to have immortalized a recipient of the Military General Service Medal (MGSM) – a retroactive award created by a young Queen Victoria in 1847 and presented to surviving veterans of the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812.
The medal that this rather pleasant, although unfortunately unidentified gentleman is
wearing appears to have at least five clasps which would seem to have made him a
a veteran of Wellesley’s Peninsular War against Napoleon in Spain (1807–1814).
This medal along with its maritime counterpart, the Naval General Service Medal (NGSM) were the first true campaign medals issued by the British Crown. While both the MGSM and the NGSM were very similar in appearance with similarly styled clasps, the vast majority of the naval medals were issued with no more than one clasp. Only fourteen are known to have been issued with five clasps. So while there is a very slim chance that this old man could be wearing an NGSM with five clasps the odds side with him actually wearing the army medal.
The image is housed in a reddish-brown papier-mâché half case with a metal hanging ring attached to its top side. This style of half case was far more popular in Britain than the full cased variety that was favored in North America at the same time. The case is very plain with only a very light embossing present.
Half Cased 1/6th Plate Ambrotype