This Melbourne Hebrew School Marine Excursion copper medal was given to pupils in 1880. It names school president N. Levi - Nathaniel Levi (1830-1908), sometime president of the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation, Board of Jewish Education and the Zionists' Board; also a businessman and Victoria's first Jewish parliamentarian.

When Nathaniel Levi became President of the school, he marked occasion by paying for the school's annual picnic. He arranged a special treat: a boat excursion to Queenscliff on 29 December 1880. Children from other schools probably joined in the fun - the first picnic at Brighton Beach had attracted 380 children, although attendances at the school peaked at 200 and by 1880 only about 130 attended the Melbourne Hebrew School. To commemorate the excursion to Queenscliff, Levi had a medal struck and given to the pupils - of which this medal is one. (Goldman, 1954, The Jews in Victoria in the Nineteenth Century)

The Melbourne Hebrew School was established as a day school in 1874, for both Jewish and non-Jewish children. It was essentially a primary school providing general and Hebrew studies, but in 1876 two pupils sat for university examinations. The school struggled for several years with fluctuating pupil numbers, competition from other schools (particularly the East Melbourne Hebrew School), and issues such as the proportions of religious and secular education. It finally closed in 1895, succumbing in the midst of a severe economic depression that effected the ability of many families to pay fees. (Aron & Arndt, 1992, The Enduring Remnant)

This medal was previously held in the collection of George McArthur, Maldon.

Physical Description

Copper medal, 22mm diameter, with hole pierced at top for hanging. The obverse features the head of a youthful Queen Victoria facing left, wearing a coronet (featuring stars) and necklace; clover below head. Inscribed on both sides.

Obverse Description

Head of Queen Victoria facing left wearing coronet (featuring stars) and necklace; around, VICTORIA 1880 - 81; clover below head; artist's initials, TS raised on neck

Reverse Description

around central legend; TO COMMEMORATE THE MARINE EXCURSION at centre within seven lines, GIVEN BY / N. LEVI . PRESDT. / OF / MELBOURNE / HEBREW / SCHOOL / TO PUPILS / DEC 29 .1880 .

Edge Description


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