Rare Welsh gold conductor’s baton discovered in museum.
Studded with gems it is the most ornate baton in the world.
A conductor’s baton made of the rarest gold in the world has been discovered in a Llanelli museum.
The baton, made in 1888, by a man called the ‘Welsh Gold King’ has lain forgotten about for years.
There are only two all gold conductor’s batons in the world and both were made by William Pritchard Morgan. The Eisteddfod baton is studded with precious jewels and Welsh symbols making it the most ornate baton in the world.
It had been made for the National Eisteddfod to raise awareness of the little-known Welsh Language Competition and for four years choirs fought avidly for the dazzling prize. Nineteenth-century choirs were the X-Factor of their day and the fight for the baton was international news.
However, each win and loss of the baton caused controversy, accusations of foul play, cheating, and even hooliganism. When it was finally won, choir members took their conductor to court in a battle for ownership, the verdict of which threatened to break apart the way choirs across the UK worked.
In fact, so controversial was the baton that it hidden away until given to Parc Howard Museum, Llanelli, its story forgotten.
Now a new book The Curious Case of the Eisteddfod Baton by Norena Shopland restores this remarkable story.
Welsh gold is highly prized but now is so rare that only pieces with a grain of gold can be bought.
Only a handful of Welsh gold museum items exist, the largest is the Castell Carn Dochan cup at Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales. They also hold the Stanley Morton medal and the Clara Novello-Davies baton both made by the William Pritchard Morgan, the Welsh Gold King.
The Curious Case of the Eisteddfod Baton is published by Wordcatcher Publishing https://wordcatcher.com/
Norena Shopland is a leading author and historian on Welsh LGBT+ people, allies and events. This is her first book on Welsh history, with more to come from Wordcatcher in 2020.