R Caldecott's Afghan War Medal design
Two versions of the medal were produced: one bronze and the other silver. Most of the surviving silver ones have names of British soldiers on them, whereas virtually all the bronze ones have Indian names on them. This has led to the allegation that the British were "racist" in awarding one type of medal to whites, and an inferior one to "natives". But the truth is that the silver one was awarded to "soldiers", whether British or otherwise, whereas the bronze one was awarded to non-combatants such as cooks and water carriers. The non-combatants who took part were almost all Indian "natives", which is what has produced the result already described. Ironically, the bronze version of the medal is now much rarer than the silver one and therefore fetches a higher price from collectors.
The medals awarded to British troops were engraved in upright or sloping capitals. Those awarded to "natives" are found named in capitals or script.
(Three letters about this Medal from Randolph Caldecott to Leonard Wyon, written between February and March 1881, are reproduced in "Yours Pictorially", pp.267-8.)
Further details about the Medal, those who were awarded it, and the Second Afghanistan War, may be found in "British Battles and Medals" pp.155-6. Our thanks to Brian Simpkin, Campaign Medals Specialist at Spink's, London, for information and illustrations for this page.