PRESS RELEASE: Medals Awarded to Discoverer of Evolution by Natural Selection to be Sold

8th July 2022

Medals Awarded to Discoverer of Evolution by Natural Selection to be Sold

The prestigious medals awarded to honour the discovery of evolution by natural selection will be sold at auction in a few day's time. This is arguably the most important scientific  theory ever proposed, so these awards must surely be some of the most important cultural objects in the history of science.

They were awarded to the co-discoverer of the theory, Alfred Russel Wallace. Perhaps surprisingly, Charles Darwin never received a single award for his co-authorship of the idea with Wallace in 1858, 15 months before he published his famous book Origin of Species, which popularised their theory (see: Wallace received no less than five medals (two of which feature portraits of Darwin) for his independent discovery of the idea, and these are therefore the only awards which honour the theory's discovery (please see

The medals, along with others awarded for Wallace's outstanding work in other areas, will be sold individually at auction on 20 July 2022 and will probably disappear into private collections worldwide unless one or more of them can be purchased and donated to a institution, where future generations can admire and be inspired by them (or it). For details about the medals and the sale please see:

The Wallace Memorial Fund  is leading the call for benefactors who may be willing to purchase one or more of the medals for donation to the Royal and Linnean Societies, the two learned organisations which awarded them to Wallace. The Royal Society is the World's pre-eminent scientific society, and the Linnean is the World's oldest active biological society. Both Societies are very keen to acquire one (or several!) of the medals for their collections of historic artifacts associated with leading scientists. The Patron of the Memorial Fund, Bill Bailey, supports the campaign.

These are probably the very last important artifacts associated with the discovery of natural selection still in private hands, and it would be a terrible shame for them to be lost to the nation.

Please contact the Chair of the Wallace Memorial Fund, Dr George Beccaloni, for more information:

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith