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  • Title
    [Sydney Cove medallion], 1789 (original issue) / Josiah Wedgwood
  • Creator
  • Call number
    SAFE/PM 133
  • Level of description
  • Date

  • Type of material
  • Reference code
  • Issue Copy
  • Physical Description
    Objects - 1 clay medallion, cream in colour. - 5.6 cm. medallion (max. diam.) - Weight: 15.20 grams. This medallion includes slight staining in the centre, obverse. Number on reverse: L2848/1, being Powerhouse Museum loan number.
  • Scope and Content
    Sydney Cove medallion titled: `Hope encouraging Art and Labour, under the influence of Peace, to pursue the employments necessary to give security and happiness to an infant settlement'.
    Obverse: Bas-relief design featuring three women and a man in classical dress, personifying Hope, addressing Peace, Art, and Labour, between images of a sailing ship (on the left), houses and a windmill on a hill (on the right), and a basket of fruit (centre foreground) that denotes plenty.
    Reverse: Impressed `Made by Josiah Wedgwood of Clay from Sydney Cove'.
  • Access Conditions

    Access to this pictures collection via appointment only. Please submit your request through Ask a Librarian
  • General note

    The medallion commemorates the landing of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788.
    On 16 November 1788 in Sydney Cove, Governor Arthur Phillip sent Sir Joseph Banks a box containing red ochre and also white clay `with wch the Natives mark themselves, it is found in great plenty, a few feet below the surface ... the people use it to cover their Houses.' A second box was described as containing sand `found in sinking a well' which Phillip thought `has Black lead in it.' (Sir Joseph Banks Electronic Archive, Series 37.08)
    Banks sent the clays to his friend Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795) who used them to issue a medallion, now known as the Sydney Cove Medallion, commemorating the settlement at Sydney. Modelled by William Hackwood (fl. 1780-d. 1836) after a design by Henry Webber (1754-1826) in 1789, it shows `Hope encouraging Art and Labour under the influence of Peace, to pursue the employments necessary to give security and happiness to an infant colony'.
    A number of Sydney Cove medallions and a cup were sent to Phillip at Sydney Cove, and on 26 July 1790 he wrote to Banks saying: `Wedgwood has showed the world that our Welch [New South Welsh] Clay is capable of receiving an Eligant commission, & I return thanks for the Cup & Medallions'. (Sir Joseph Banks Electronic Archive, Series 37.12)
    The medallions were produced in three distinct colours: pale cream, brown and black depending on which clay was used. It is not known how many medallions were produced, but the number is likely to be small, nor is there any record of how many were sent to Phillip. The word `Etruria', which appears on the obverse of the medallion, was the name Wedgwood gave to his new factory in 1769, after the region in Italy.
    Eleven medallions are known to have survived; five are held in the Mitchell Library: P*66 ; P*67 ; P*68 ; PM 132 ; PM 133. No cups are known to have survived. -- Curator's Notes, Mitchell Library, 2005.
    Notes on the Wedgwood Medallions, compiled by the Mitchell Library, are located at Aw 127.
    This item has been digitised as part of the Nelson Meers Foundation Heritage Collection, 2005.
    Digital order no:Album ID : 874449
  • Signatures / Inscriptions

    Place and date of manufacture in raised (sprigged) text beneath image on obverse: `Etruria / 1789'
    Impressed text on reverse: `Made By / Iosiah Wedgwood / of Clay / From / Sydney Cove'
  • Creator/Author/Artist
  • Name
  • Topic
  • Place
  • Exhibited in

    Inspired! Design across time - Decorative Arts and Design Gallery, Powerhouse Museum
    Nelson Meers Foundation Heritage Collection - State Library of New South Wales (Apr 2006 - Mar 2007)
    ONE hundred : celebrating the Mitchell Library centenary - April-June 2010
    ONE hundred : celebrating the Mitchell Library centenary - State Library of New South Wales (March 2010 - June 2010)
    Pieces of Wedgwood
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