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Souvenir Medallion - Coronation of Leopold ll - 1790

A  Leopold medallion, ©  Wedgwood Museum
    A Leopold medallion
    © Wedgwood Museum

Although Josiah I had broken into the European market with his standard wares by the early 1760s, he constantly endeavoured to open up new, specific markets. In late 1790 his son Jos, and nephew Tom Byerley were touring Europe with a first edition copy of the Portland Vase. Wedgwood sent examples of the Leopold medallions to them, in Frankfurt, to break into the royal commemoratives market in Germany.

In 1790 Wedgwood produced sets of small jasper medallions to celebrate the coronation of ‘Leopold the Lawgiver.’ Leopold II was the ruler of the Hapsburg dominions and Holy Roman Emperor from 1790 to his death in 1792. He was considered to be one of the most enlightened reformers of his time, and Josiah I - ever with an eye to a marketing opportunity - produced a series of about twelve medallions of different designs, but all symbolically themed to embody Leopold as lawgiver, in anticipation of his coronation. Each medallion was made in white jasper, and then received a dark blue ‘dip’. For decorative enhancement the edge of each medallion was lapidary polished. Seven of the subjects were listed on an invoice of ware which was to be sent to London, then shipped to Josiah Wedgwood II and Thomas Byerley at ‘Francfort’ The invoice was dated 11th September 1790. At the time Jos and Byerley were undertaking a European promotional tour with the Portland Vase, and were hoping to secure new orders for these medallions and other wares.

  • Type of object: Plaques and medallions/portrait medallion
  • Mark: WEDGWOOD[impressed]
  • Year produced: 1790
  • Body: Jasper
  • Material: ceramic
  • Decoration: sprigged
  • Accession number: 898a