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Fob seal, with motto "Am I not a man and a brother?"

Additional Title(s):

Am I not a man and a brother?

Slave medallion

England, not before 1787.
Physical Description:
1 fob seal : gilding over copper or copper alloy, cornelian-colored glass ; face 31 x 24 mm, depth 43 mm
Rare Books and Manuscripts
Flat D 3
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
Related Content:
View catalog record for a signet ring bearing the Slave Medallion design
View catalog record for a fob seal with motto: "Am I not a woman and a sister?"
Three-Dimensional Artifacts
"On 5 July 1787 the London Committee resolved that 'a seal be engraved for use of this Society and that Joseph Woods, Dr. Hooper, and Philip Sansom be requested to prepare a design for the same.' On 16 October the subcommittee reported that Joseph Woods had 'brought in a specimen of a design ... expressive of an African in chains in a supplicating posture with the motto 'Am I not a man and a brother?' which being approved the subcommittee before appointed is desired to get it well engraved.' It is not clear whether the emblem was Woods's own design or that of an artist he employed, but the motif was engraved on a copper plate for printing purposes and appeared on Society publications as early as 1788. ... In late 1787, Wedgwood planned and produced a number of cameos or medallions based on the Society's seal, which were sculpted by his chief modeler, William Hackwood. ... The so-called Slave Medallion was tremendously successful, quickly becoming an icon of the abolitionist cause. ... the medallions were incorporated into bracelets, hairpins, and boxes, while the motif of the suppliant slave imploring, "Am I not a man and a brother?" adorned a wide array of objects ..."--Graham C. Boettcher, in Art and emancipation in Jamaica (2007), page 295.
Art and emancipation in Jamaica, p. 295
Reilly, R. Wedgwood, v. 1, p. 114-115
Bindman, D. "Am I not a man and a brother?: British art and slavery in the eighteenth century." In Res 26 (Autumn 1994), p. 68-82
Honour, H. Image of the black in Western art, p. 62-64
Fob ring, depicting a kneeling enslaved man in shackles and motto that reads (in reverse): "Am I not a man and a brother?" The image is after a design by William Hackwood, for Josiah Wedgwood, and was adopted as the seal for the London Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade in 1787. The image and motto is engraved in intaglio, within an oval of cornelian-colored glass. The metal frame incorporates images of two urns.
Letters closed with sealing wax impressed with the present fob seal would have indicated the sender's support for the abolition of slavery.
Subject Terms:
Antislavery movements -- Great Britain.
Black people in art.
Slave trade -- Great Britain.
Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade.
Fobs (objects)
Seals (artifacts)
Woods, Joseph.
Webber, Henry, 1754-1826.
Hackwood, William, 1757-1839.
Josiah Wedgwood & Sons.
IIIF Manifest:

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