Historical and Commemorative
Collection of Benjamin Weiss
KINGS AND QUEENS OF ENGLAND
The dies for this series of medals were executed between 1731 and 1732 by the Genevese artist, Jean Dassier while residing in London. They form a continuous series of English sovereigns, from William I to George II. With the exception of the piece of Caroline and the George II dedicatory medal to the series issued in 1731, they are not contemporary. Accordingly, they are not of as much historical value as one would like as in some cases, particularly those of the earlier monarchs, the portraits are either inaccurately copied or are taken from unauthentic sources. Further, some of the dates on the inscriptions are incorrect. These have been noted wherever possible. Nevertheless, as art objects, the portraits are well executed and the allegorical reverses are, for the most part, quite interesting. (for more on this, see Eisler, volume I).
The first set of this series of English Kings and Queens, issued in 1731, consisted of 33 medals, including a medal dedicated to George II. The set numbered 34 when a medal of Caroline, the wife of George II, was added. These were produced in damascened bronze (bronze medals with the design highlighted in gold), and in bronze and silver. Another set was struck a little later included the memorial medal of George II, making 35 medals in all. At about 1755, Jean Dassier, probably with the help of his son Jacques-Antoine, reissued the Series of English Kings and Queens, some of the dies having been re-cut. Another set comprising 36 medals was reissued in London about 1773; to the original 34 medals were added medals of George III by Lewis Pingo and Queen Charlotte by J. Kirk. All of these sets sometimes occur in wooden trays.
Following the original issues, the dies were sold to Simone Busigny in London. They later came into the possession of Sir Edward Thomason of Birmingham, by whom additional sets were made. These latter medals, copper restrikes made from reworked dies, were issued around 1830. They lack some of the sharpness of the originals and may exhibit more die breaks. The obverses were similar to those of Dassier, while the reverse had a biographical inscription. This set, which consists of 36 medals, the original 34 obverses, with the addition of medals of George III and George IV executed by J. Marrian, sometimes occurs in book form or on wooden trays. They occur in bronze and white metal. Another similar set was issued at a later date from later strikings or reworked dies.
Medals struck in bronze are fairly commonly encountered; those in damascened bronze or those struck in silver are quite rare.