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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 15, April 9, 2006, Article 9

QUERY: JOHN PINKERTON AND MEDALLIC ILLUSTRATIONS

Kay Platt writes: "I have a question that I am hoping a member
of the NBS could answer, or just steer me in the right direction
to find an answer.

I have four different versions of The Medallic History of England
attributed to John Pinkerton, two with text, two without text.
The spine of one contains his name, otherwise there is no mention
of his name anywhere else. The information on the four volumes
may be summarized as follows:

(A) The Medallic History of England to the Revolution, with
Forty Plates. Dated 1790, No author’s name on the title page,
but Pinkerton's name appears on the original spine. “Printed for
Edwards and Sons, Pall Mall, Faulder, in New Bond Street.”
This volume contains 40 plates and commentary on each medal.

(B) The Medallic History of England, Illustrated by Forty
Plates. Dated 1802. Pinkerton's name does not appear on the
original spine, which is badly deteriorated.  “Printed, at the
Oriental Press, by Wilson and Co…for E. Harding, No. 98, Pall-Mall;
and J. Scott, St. Martin’s Court…”  This edition contains 40 plates,
no preface but the same commentary as (A).

(C) The Medals of England, consisting of 384 Specimens Engraved on
Forty Plates.  Undated.  No author. “Nichols & Son, 25 Parliament St.”
This edition contains 40 plates and commentary, but no preface or
commentary. This copy is bound together with Adam d. Cardonnel’s
Numismata Scotiae (1786).

(D) 384 Medals of England, Engraved on Forty Plates.
Dated 1831. No author.  “Printed for JB Nichols & Son, 25,
Parliament-Street.”  No preface or commentary. Binding (red
leather?) appears to be a later replacement for the original.

I also have Snelling’s Thirty Three Plates of English Medals
(1776).  This is, of course the source of about 2/3 of the 40
plates, although Snelling had died in 1773. Some questions are:

How did Pinkerton’s name come to be associated with Snelling’s
work? Did he purchase the rights from Snelling’s family, or did
he just appropriate the work and have the additional plates added
and publish the revised work for his profit? After all, it would
appear that Pinkerton had a great interest in medals. But he was
also accused of having appropriated other authors’ works without
attribution.

Perhaps the most basic question is, how do I really know that
Pinkerton had anything to do with the publication of the “40
Plates” works, other than his name appearing on the spine of one
of the four volumes, and in libraries? Also, did Pinkerton actually
write the text that accompanied the plates, or did he hire someone
to do it (or did the publisher write the preface and text), and
why the (odd, to me) appearance of incomplete later editions
lacking the accompanying text? And, finally, was he associated
with all four versions?

Any light a member could shed on the Pinkerton relationship with
Snelling’s original work, and the four later editions would be
greatly appreciated. Any references to commentaries or works which
would shed light on these questions would especially be welcomed.

More broadly, recommendations to any other essential sources on
the eminent writers on medals of the 17th century would also be
appreciated. I have Evelyn, Vertue, Pinkerton’s Essays on Medals
(not of much value), Henfrey, Turner’s Pinkerton’s Correspondence,
Pinkerton’s earlier work, On Medals, and of course the works
mentioned above. More generally, I have Medallic Illustrations,
Helen Farquhar’s articles, Besly’s book (and article on for the
Forlorn Hope in The Medal), Mayo, Lessen’s articles, and Nathanson’s
small work on Simon. Is any other essential book missing that I
should have that would provide more information on the writers
mentioned?   Many thanks in advance for your readers’ help."

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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