Medals have traditionally been constructed of the following metals, in decreasing order of value:
Silver, or silver gilt, which is used for Olympic "gold medals,"
Many medals were and still are manufactured in many metals, either to signify awards for different positions in a competition, standards, or classes, as with Olympic medals or simply to represent different price levels for medals made for sale or donation by the commissioner. Medals have traditionally been awarded as prizes in a variety of competitive events, particularly athletics. At the 1904 Summer Olympics, the gold, silver, and bronze Olympic medals for first, second, and third place were first used. In 1896, victors received silver medals and runners-up received bronze, however, in 1900, other rewards were provided rather than medals. The medals at the London 2012 Summer Olympics are the largest ever, continuing a trend of larger Olympic medals. Click here for Favourable Price Award Sport Medals.
The Italian painter Antonio Pisano, sometimes known as Pisanello, was the first well-known great artist to create medals in the 1440s when he sculpted and cast multiple portrait medals of princes and intellectuals. Many other artists followed in his footsteps, including those from Italy, the Low Countries, Germany, and France. Medals were often used to mark events and celebrate monarchs in the seventeenth century. Prize medals became popular in the seventeenth century. Art medals became extremely popular in the nineteenth century. David d'Angers made a large series of portrait medals of notable contemporaries in the early part of the aforementioned century, and in the latter part of the century, Jules-Clément Chaplain and Louis-Oscar Roty were among several highly respected medalists. Art medals flourished in the early twentieth century, particularly in France, Italy, and Belgium, while later in the century, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, the United States, Canada, and England created a large amount of high-quality work.