GREAT BRITAIN / CANADA Blondin Niagara Falls Medal BHM 2672




Collections: Canada Medals, Medals, World Medals

Product type: Medal

Vendor: Britannianumismatics



GREAT BRITAIN / CANADA Blondin Niagara Falls 35mm white metal medal 14.47 grams - holed for suspension. (There is a small ding in the obverse field to the left of Blondin's eyes) BHM-2672

Obverse: Blondin facing three quaters left, BLONDIN / THE HERO OF NIAGARA

Reverse: View of the Canadian Falls with Blondin on tightrope, CROSSED THE FALLS OF NIAGARA / IN PRESENCE OF H.R.H. PRINCE OF WALES SEPR 14 1860 /  J. WHITE BIRMM.

Charles Blondin (born Jean François Gravelet, 28 February 1824 – 22 February 1897) was a French tightrope walker and acrobat. He toured the United States and was known for crossing the 1,100 ft (340 m) Niagara Gorge on a tightrope.

Blondin was born on 28 February 1824 in Hesdin, Pas-de-Calais, France. His birth name was Jean-François Gravelet, though he was known by many other names and nicknames: Charles Blondin, Jean-François Blondin, Chevalier Blondin, and The Great Blondin. At the age of five, he was sent to the École de Gymnase in Lyon and, after six months of training as an acrobat, made his first public appearance as "The Boy Wonder". His superior skill and grace, as well as the originality of the settings of his acts, made him a popular favourite

Blondin went to the United States in 1855. He was encouraged by William Niblo to perform with the Ravel troupe in New York City and was subsequently part proprietor of a circus. He especially owed his celebrity and fortune to his idea to cross the Niagara Gorge (on the Canada–U.S. border) on a tightrope, 1,100 ft (340 m) long, 3.25 in (8.3 cm) in diameter and 160 ft (49 m) above the water, near the location of the current Rainbow Bridge. This he did on 30 June 1859, and a number of times thereafter, often with different theatrical variations: blindfolded, in a sack, trundling a wheelbarrow, on stilts, carrying a man (his manager, Harry Colcord) on his back, sitting down midway while he cooked and ate an omelette, standing on a chair with only one of its legs balanced on the rope or taking a daguerreotype photo of the crowd watching him perform. On the occasion of his 1860 Command Performance in the presence of the Prince of Wales, Blondin even offered to take the Prince with him. 

There were two medals made for this event. The 35mm example being offered which should be considered rare, and the very rare 45mm example similar in design, unsigned, and of better workmanship that was an eBay find in 2006 and later sold with Stack's Bowers in March 2021 for $US384.00.

Heritage Auctions offered a 35mm example in August of 2015 indicating that it was one of four known. That figure is low as on the NGC Collectors Society webpage one collector has referenced 17 examples (both holed and unholed)

In Laurence Brown's, British Historical Medals, it indicates that the piece was by the Birmingham medallist J. W. Moore, however below the date it is signed J. WHITE BIRMM.