What do you know about the Nobel prizes?
Oct 2022

What do you know about
the Nobel prizes?

Every October, the Nobel Prize announcements are made, and the official award ceremony is held in December. According to Alfred Nobel's will , the recipients are selected by the Norwegian or Swedish committees. With prize money over $ 1.4 million, the Nobel Prizes have a well-earned reputation of both prestige and financial windfall.

Alfred Nobel was a Swedish chemist, engineer, inventor, businessman, and philanthropist. He also had a keen interest in the arts and wrote poetry and drama. At the time of his death, he had registered 355 patents and amassed a fortune through his invention of dynamite, and an explosive device called a blasting cap, which introduced the modern use of high explosives. 


Alfred Nobel was not a happy person. He was a lonely, austere man in bad health. He was burdened with work and hypochondria. However, Nobel was a talented linguist and was fluent in English, French, German and Russian, as well as his native language, Swedish. Head a reputation as a man of high morals and led a frugal life. 


Nobel was also an activist, and he supported those who spoke up against militarism and war and was committed to working towards disarmament and a peaceful solution to international conflicts. On 27 November 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his last will. The document confirmed that his wealth would be used to establish a series of prizes in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace – the Nobel Prizes. Interestingly, Nobel left no explanation as to why the prize for peace was to be awarded by a Norwegian committee while the other four prizes were to be handled by Swedish committees.

So, how do contenders get into the game? Candidates are put forward by academies, university professors, scientists, previous Nobel Prize laureates, and members of parliamentary assemblies. The Nobel Committees are responsible for the selection of the candidates with the Nobel Prizes in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine and literature awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, while the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo, Norway.

South Africans have a special interest in the Nobel Peace Prize as candidates from Mzanzi have been recipients a total of four times. Albert Luthuli ( 1960), Desmond Tutu ( 1984), and Nelson Mandela and F.W. De Klerk jointly in 1993. In addition to the cash prize, Nobel Peace Prize winners receive a unique medal. The face of the medal shows Alfred Nobel with the inscription Pro pace et fraternitate gentium (For the peace and brotherhood of men). The other side of the Nobel Peace Prize medal represents a group of three men forming a fraternal bond with the words “Prix Nobel de la Paix”, the relevant year, and the name of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate is engraved on the edge of the medal.

The Nobel Peace Prize Medal was designed by Gustav Vigeland who was a celebrated Norwegian artist and sculptor. Since 2012 the Nobel Medals have been manufactured by Det Norske Myntverket (Mint of Norway) in Kongsberg. The South African Gold Coin Exchange & The Scoin Shop has an exclusive relationship with The Royal Norwegian Mint. This means we enjoy sole distribution rights of collectable coins and medals minted by the Mint of Norway, including Nobel memorabilia.