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Hearing to episode 3 of Stephen Fry's podcast Great Leap Years, he describes this very prestigious French prize for scientist of 19th century called the Volta prize (le prix Volta in French). The recipients include Humphry Davy and Graham Bell, for example.

Wikipedia article is very short, is an incomplete list and has some broken links. I would like to find a full list of recipients, do you know where I may find something like that? I tried to make search in French but I didn't find more than the Wiki article.

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  • $\begingroup$ The wikipedia list of four names is most probably complete and that covers the second period 1852-88. Keeping in mind Napoleon's dates, one might suspect that in the first period there are no other names besides Humphry Davies, the article being rather evasive. $\endgroup$ – sand1 Aug 2 '18 at 21:50
  • $\begingroup$ @sand1 it doesn't even say when Davy got his prize $\endgroup$ – Mauricio Aug 2 '18 at 21:52
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Maindron (1881, pp. 131-133) has the 1852-1880 story, slightly different from what Wikipedia says. Not the same as Napoléon Bonaparte’s Prix du galvanisme (pp. 69-70) which is what Davy got in 1807.

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  • $\begingroup$ Ok to see if I get it. The prize was given each five years and sometimes to multiple people or nobody. Also, the Galvanism prize was the predecessor of the prize and later changed to Volta prize? or both prizes were available at the same time? $\endgroup$ – Mauricio Aug 3 '18 at 16:28
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    $\begingroup$ No, Maindron says Galvanism (1802-) was a French Academy prize, Volta (1852-) wasn’t, and they were unrelated other than “inspiration” of the latter by the former. Galvanism was supposedly 3,000 francs each year, only won by Erman (1806), Davy (1807) and Gay-Lussac / Thenard (1809). Volta supposedly 50,000 every five years, only won by Ruhmkorff (1864) and Bell / Gramme (1880) in the Maindron-covered period. $\endgroup$ – Francois Ziegler Aug 3 '18 at 20:23
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! If it was not French academy, who distributed Volta prize? $\endgroup$ – Mauricio Aug 3 '18 at 20:23
  • $\begingroup$ An ad hoc commission which “although appointed directly by the Minister of Education, always consisted of members of the Academy of Sciences”. $\endgroup$ – Francois Ziegler Aug 3 '18 at 20:47
  • $\begingroup$ An 1871 rapport the the French President of the Republic says that the 2nd second run of the prize was won by Ruhmkorf. and proposes to renew the 3rd run as of Nov. 1871 there had been no candidates. It also states disparagingly that the 1st concours just awarded medals .education.persee.fr/doc/baip_1254-0714_1871_num_14_269_36190 $\endgroup$ – sand1 Aug 4 '18 at 9:00

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