Sea Gallantry Medal, Type I, Bronze Medal (for humanity, 1854-1893)
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The Sea Gallantry Medal was not established by Royal Warrant, but rather by an Act of Parliament in 1854 as part of the Merchant Shipping Act. It was officially enacted by the Board of Trade in the following year as the Board of Trade Medal for Saving Life. It was suspended for a short period after the establishment of the Albert Medal in 1867 but was awarded again in 1875. It was later altered through the intervention of King Edward VII in 1903 and has since been known as the Sea Gallantry Medal. It has never been officially discontinued, but no awards have been made since 1989.
The Medal was originally awarded in two categories to British citizens in recognition of acts of life-saving during shipwrecks on the coast of the United Kingdom, as well acts of life-saving aboard British vessels. The Medal for Gallantry was awarded to those who performed life-saving rescues at the risk of their own life, while the Medal for Humanity was awarded to those who performed life-saving rescues absent of personal risk. The Medal for Humanity was seldom awarded and was permanently discontinued in 1893. However, the Medal for Gallantry continued to be awarded for acts of life-saving in the face of extreme danger.
The Medal is classified into two types based on design alterations made in 1904. Type I medals are large, unwearable medals that have different inscriptions based on the nature of the recognized action. Type II medals are smaller, wearable medals that feature the new name of the medal on the obverse. All medals are issued named, although both the style of the typeface and the inscription have changed over time.
The Medal may be awarded multiple times to the same recipient, in which case a bar clasp is worn on the ribbon to denote each additional award. The award of a clasp is only known to have occurred once in 1921.
Recipients have been entitled to use the post-nominal letters SGM since 1937. The Medal may also be awarded posthumously.
There are multiple versions of the Type II Bronze Medal which vary by design and inscription according to the service recognized (for gallantry or for humanity) and by the date of issue.
There may be additional versions of the Medal that differ in size.
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