In 1796, Benjamin Thompson, known as Count Rumford, gave $5000 separately to the Royal Society of London and the other by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences to give awards every two years for outstanding scientific research on heat or light.
The Royal Society awards the Rumford Medal; the American Academy of Arts and Sciences awards the Rumford Prize.
The Rumford Medal is restricted to scientists working in Europe. It is awarded in even years in recognition of an outstandingly important recent discovery in the field of thermal or optical properties of matter made by a scientist working in Europe, noting that Rumford was concerned to see recognised discoveries that tended to promote the good of mankind. The medal is of silver gilt and a gift of £1000 is associated with it.