Historical and Commemorative
Collection of Benjamin Weiss
Avern, Edward: Edward Avern was an English medallist of the beginning of the nineteenth century. He exhibited several medals at the royal academy.
Barber, J.: J. Barber’s medals are considered to be of mixed quality. Forrer, for example, praises a high relief portrait of George, Prince-Regent, but criticizes his medal commemorating the coronation of Queen Victoria (shown below).
Bower, George: George Bower (Bowers) worked in London from 1650 to 1689. He was appointed in 1664 Engraver to the Royal Mint and Embosser in Ordinary. He died in 1690.
Carter, Charles Frederick: Charles Frederick Carter (1805-?) was a medallist of the nineteenth century. He was a pupil of Halliday.
Croker, John: John Croker (Johann Crocker) (1670-1741) was a distinguished medallist of the early eighteenth century. He was born at Dresden, visited Holland and came to England in 1691 where he learned die sinking. He was appointed Assistant engraver to the London Mint and in 1705 was appointed Chief engraver, a post he held until his death. He was a prolific medallist as well as an engraver of coins which were considered to be excellent in style and workmanship and rank among the best productions of British coinage.
Flaxman, John: John Flaxman (1755-1826) is considered one of the greatest sculptors of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. He was born at York. In 1775 Flaxman was employed by Josiah Wedgwood where he modeled friezes, plaques and medallion portraits, using jasper and basalt compositions. Wedgwood considered Flaxman as "the greatest artist of the age" and gave him a long series of important commissions, including many of the finest portrait-medallions made of Jasperware, usually white upon blue. Jasper ware is a type of stoneware, or porcelain, often unglazed, developed by Wedgwood. The mark "Wedgwood" occurs before 1860. Later, (between 1860 and 1929), three-letter marks, indicating the month and year and potter were sometimes added. Still later (after 1891) the words England and Made in England were added after "Wedgwood".
Halliday, Thomas: Halliday was born about 1780 and worked in Birmingham between 1810 and 1842. He engraved and manufactured tokens and medals for his own works and others. He had a number of apprentices, among whom was Peter Wyon, father of William Wyon. Halliday executed some of the finest racing, truck, society and school tickets.
Pistrucci, Benedetto: Benedetto Pistrucci (Italian) (1784-1855) was a distinguished Italian gem engraver, medallist and coin engraver, and for the first half of the 19th century, he was one of the most influential engravers in Europe. Besides medals and large sculptures, he was also known for a variety of smaller cameos, coins, and jetons. He first reached prominence in Rome, then moved to Florence for a short period of time and then in 1815, he moved to London, where he remained until his death. He attended school at Bologna, Rome and Napels but did not excel as a scholar. His youth was somewhat arduous, and several disagreements arose between him and his colleagues, a problem which seemed to pursue him throughout much of his life. In 1814 the downfall of Napoleon cause Pistrucci to leave for London. His talents were well recognized in England but he soon came into competition and conflict with the dominant family of the English medallists of the period, the famous and influential Wyons. After a long dispute, in 1828 it was decided that William Wyon be appointed as chief engraver to the mint and Pistrucci was given the designation of Chief Medallist of the Royal Mint, bringing consternation amongst many of the British engravers – especially those within the Wyon family. Suffice it to say that both dominant personalities of the period were excellent medallists. Indeed, according to Forrer, Pistrucci "the Italian Medallist and Gem-Engraver stands very high amongst his colleagues, and in the glyptic art he certainly was not surpassed in the nineteenth century."
Pistrucci spent some thirty years making medals in commemoration of the victories of Europe's combined forces over Napoleon. Included among these is Pistrucci’s masterpiece, the wonderful Waterloo Medallion (shown below), which took him over thirty years to complete. Gold examples were to be presented to the four allied monarchs and two silver examples to Field Marshal Blucher and the Duke of Wellington. Due to his many other commissions Pistrucci was only able to finish engraving the dies in 1849, by which time all those for whom the medal was intended, with the exception of Wellington, had already died. This medallion, the dies of which were so large that they were never hardened for fear of breaking when used to strike copies, were employed to make only impressions in soft metal and to make a few electrotypes. One such example is in the Hermitage which states "The Waterloo medal is considered one of the rarest and most important pieces in the history of medallic art." (See entry under Napoleonic Medals).
Roettiers, James (I): James Roettiers (1663-1698) was the second son of John Roettiers. He assisted his father at the English Mint in making dies and puncheons and in 1690, on the death of George Bower, was officially employed as an assistant engraver of the mint, together with his brother Norbert. He was removed from his office at the mint in consequence of the theft of dies from the Tower of London. He died in 1698 from the effects of a fall from his horse.
Roettiers, James (IV): James (IV) or Jacques (French) de la Tour Roettiers (1707-1784), the son of Norbert Roettiers, was born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye in the suburbs of Paris. After spending some time in Rome, he moved to London in 1732, where he was appointed engraver to the Royal Mint, London. He later moved back to France where he became the goldsmith to Louis XV and was elected to membership of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, largely on the basis of his portrait medals of John Locke and Isaac Newton, which he had formally executed in England.
Roettiers, John: John (Jan) Roettiers (Roettier) (1631-ca.1700) was one of several medallists from a family whose members distinguished themselves in the art for nearly two centuries, working for the Kings of England, France, and Spain. John was born in Antwerp, the eldest son of Philip Roettiers, a medallist and goldsmith. He died in London. He learned the art of medal engraving and stone cutting from his father. At an early age he was an assistant at the Antwerp Mint, but left in 1661 to go to London at the invitation of Charles II. In 1670 he became Chief engraver at the royal Mint, London, and remained at that post until 1698. Among his many medallic works were the official Coronation medals of James II, Mary, and William and Mary. The very large medal of the Restoration "Felicitas Britanniae" executed in 1660 is exceptional (the obverse bust of Charles II is said to have been executed by Joseph Roettiers) (Forrer).
Roettiers, Norbert: Norbert Roettiers (1665-1727) was the third son of John Roettiers, with whom he apprenticed. He worked in England at the Royal Mint, London, where in 1690, he was appointed Assistant Engraver, together with his brother James. He also lived in France where, in 1703, on the death of Joseph Roettiers, he was appointed Engraver-General of French coins. Norbert was an ardent Jacobite.
Tanner, John Sigismund: John Sigismund Tanner (?- 1775) was a native of Saxe-Gotha, and came to England in 1728. Not long after his settlement in England, the Master of the Mint, John Conduit, offered him employment as an engraver at the Royal mint, where he worked for some years under John Croker. He worked at the mint for nearly forty years, becoming Chief engraver in 1741. One of Tanner’s best known medals is that of John Conduit, which was executed on Conduit’s death in 1737 (medal is shown below).
Wyon Family of Medallists: The Wyons are one of the most celebrated and talented coin and medal engravers in England. Their period of activity extends from before the middle of the eighteenth century to almost the end of the nineteenth century. Tradition has it that Peter George (II) Wyon came to England from Cologne, Germany, during the reign of King George II. He brought with him a boy who grew up to be George (III) Wyon. George (III) Wyon has two sons, Thomas (I) and Peter, both of whom distinguished themselves as medallists and engravers of dies for coinage. Peter was the father of William Wyon, the most famous of the Wyon family of artists. William, in turn, was the father of Leonard Charles Wyon. Thomas (I) had a son, Benjamin, a medallist in his own right, and Benjamin had two sons, Joseph Shepherd and Alfred Benjamin, both of whom became medallists.
Wyon, Alfred Benjamin: Alfred Benjamin Wyon (1837-1884) was the second son of Benjamin Wyon , and brother of Joseph Shepherd and Allan Wyon. He was a student in the School of Painting at the Royal Academy and learned the art of die engraving under his father. He became Chief Engraver of the Seals in 1873, a post he retained until his death. Alfred Benjamin Wyon, who attained great eminence as an engraver and medallist, collaborated with his brother Joseph Shepherd in the die sinking business, making many medals together, including some for the Corporation of the City of London.
Wyon, Benjamin: Benjamin Wyon (1802-1858), the second son of Thomas Wyon the elder, received a major portion of his instruction from his elder brother, Thomas Wyon the younger. He succeeded his father as Chief Engraver of the Seals in 1831.
Wyon, Joseph Shepherd: Joseph Shepherd Wyon (1836-1873) was the eldest son of Benjamin Wyon. He studied in the schools of the Royal Academy, where he distinguished himself. In 1858 J.S. Wyon was appointed Chief Engraver of the Seals, in succession to his father. He made many medals alone and some in collaboration with his brother Alfred Benjamin.
Wyon, Leonard Charles: L.C. Wyon (1826-1891) was the eldest son of William Wyon. He studied at the Merchant Taylors’ School in London and by the age of 16 had already made several medals, some of which are in the British Museum. At age 17, he became second engraver to the Royal Mint, and in 1851, he succeeded his father as Chief Engraver. Wyon engraved most of the dies for the British military and naval medals during his tenure. He executed many medals, including those from the Art Union series (an example of which is in the present collection), and a prodigious number of pattern coins.
Wyon, William: William Wyon (1795-1851), the most celebrated of the Wyon family of medallists, was the eldest son of Peter Wyon, with whom he apprenticed. In London, he aided his uncle Thomas Wyon the elder in engraving, and shortly thereafter was chosen to fill the post of second engraver. When the chief engraver, Thomas Wyon junior died, Pistrucci, the noted gem engraver and favorite of the Master of the Mint, was appointed to the vacant office. William Wyon resented this nomination and differences arose between the two artists. A compromise was reached when Wyon was made Chief Engraver, and Pistrucci received the designation of Chief Medallist. According to Forrer, Wyon’s head of Queen Victoria used on coinage, by combining beauty of design and perfect execution, received universal approbation and still ranks as one of the noblest productions in the British numismatic series.