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Fob seal depicting the Novelty steam locomotive.
Great Britain, 1829?
Physical Description:
1 fob seal : pinchbeck, glass ; face 13 x 14 mm, depth 25 mm
Rare Books and Manuscripts
Flat D 6
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
Three-Dimensional Artifacts
The intaglio design engraved in the glass face of the fob seal depicts an early steam locomotive, with simple cart-like carriage, spoked wheels, a boiler, and smoke flowing from a small smokestack. Two men operate the locomotive, one with his hands on the boiler. The locomotive depicted is very likely the Novelty, a model built by John Ericsson and John Braithwaite to take part in the Rainhill Trials in 1829. The two men depicted are probably its inventors, Ericsson and Braithwaite. The image composition is probably copied from an illustration of the Novelty in Mechanics magazine, museum, register, journal and gazette (issue no. 329, page 114). In this illustration, the Novelty appears alongside the Rocket (of Robert Stephenson) and the Sans Pareil (of Timothy Hackworth), under the title "The Locomotive Steam Engines Which Competed for the Prize of £500 Offered by the Directors of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway Compy." This is a reference to the Rainhill Trials, a competition run in 1829 in which the Novelty faced off against four other designs on the nearly-completed Liverpool and Manchester Railway. Stephenson's Rocket won the trial, as the only locomotive to complete the 1 mile length of track.
The body of the fob seal is made of pinchbeck, a copper alloy used as imitation gold, popular in the early 19th century in the production of inexpensive jewelry etc. The manufacturer is unidentified. A 21st century gold-filled chain has been added.
Subject Terms:
Braithwaite, John, 1797-1870.
Ericsson, John, 1803-1889.
Liverpool and Manchester Railway.
Novelty (Steam locomotive)
Railroads -- Great Britain.
Steam locomotives -- Great Britain.
Fobs (objects)
Seals (artifacts)

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