Jun 292012
 

1787 was an interesting time for men’s fashions. I was rather taken with this print, shown courtesy of the Lewis Walpole Library at Yale University, entitled “Such things are : Telles choses sont : that such things are we must allow, but such things never were till now. ”

It was intended as a companion to the equivalent print on ladies fashions, which I included in my earlier post on muffs.This one shows four figures of dandies, one with a huge muff, one with a tall cane, all with the high waist, tight trousers, and exaggerated ruffles at the neck. Until I saw this I had no idea that stripey knee length stockings were all the rage in 1787. As Richard Hall, my 4xgreat grandfather was a maker of silk hosiery and no doubt wished to be at the height of fashion at his premises at One London Bridge, it is a fair bet that he made, or at least stocked, fine leg-wear like these!

Jun 272012
 

If ever a man was a product of his century, it was Dr John Wall – physician, artist, entrepreneur, man of vision, and arbiter of taste. He was born on 12 October 1708 and died on 27 June 1776 and initially made his mark as a fine doctor and the founder of the Worcester Royal Infirmary. He also was involved in the development of Malvern as a spa town and in the creation of the Royal Worcester porcelain works.

He was the son of a Worcester tradesman and went to Oxford (Worcester College and Merton) before becoming a physician with a thriving and profitable practice in Worcester. In 1745 he helped set up a charitable hospital in the town which became famous for its treatment of diphtheria and scarlet fever cases. He was convinced of the health-giving qualities of the water at Malvern and jointly with a local apothecary called William Davies he set about analyzing the water content and purity. In 1756 this led to the publication of a pamphlet extolling the benefits of the water. Basically it concluded that the water contained no impurities, giving rise to the epigram

The Malvern water, says Doctor John Wall,
Is famed for containing… just nothing at all.

He was also linked to early efforts to bottle Malvern Water, and to develop Malvern as a spa town by encouraging the development of tourist accommodation.

But for all these worthy interests, nothing compares to his vision and inspiration in founding the Worcester Porcelain Works (then known as “The Worcester Tonquin Manufactory”).  Again he was assisted by William Davies. They were determined to emulate the Far East with its fine translucent porcelain, but nowhere in the West had been able to work out the formula for mixing the clays. Experiments were carried out using a primitive domestic oven and then in 1751 Wall and Davies gathered together 13 other businessmen and “sold” them the idea of forming a company to develop his ideas. Each agreed to contribute the hefty sum of £4500 to establish the factory at Warmstry House, in Worcester, right by the banks of the River Severn. So secrecy-minded were these founders that they each covenanted to pay £4000 if they ever divulged the secret formula.

At the start, there were problems with the clays used in the process, and these were not solved until the new company  bought out the Bristol potter by the name of Lund (1752). Lund’s factory had used a secret formula which included Cornish soapstone. Wall and his colleagues realized that this was the key to obtaining good translucency and durability. In the early years the factory concentrated on tea services, pots, sauce-boats and pickle dishes, with some vases. While many of the shapes derived from British silver, the decoration was taken mainly from Chinese porcelain, particularly the blue and white wares. What impressed the buyers of these tea services was that boiling hot water could be put straight into the cups without risk of cracking. In a century which had seen tea consumption rise four hundred-fold ( imports weighing a massive four and a half million pounds came here courtesy of the East India Company in 1750) the popularity of Worcester porcelain was meteoric.

From 1757 Worcester pioneered the development of transfer printing. Initially this involved Overglaze black and then later, Underglaze blue. The process involved applying ink to an engraved copper sheet and then transferring this to unglazed porcelain using a sheet of tissue, and had the advantage that the same pattern could be reproduced accurately time and time again.

Dr Wall retired in 1774, however his partners continued to manufacture until their London agent, Thomas Flight, took over. By 1789 the quality of Worcester Porcelain earned the company the prestigious ‘Royal Warrant’ as Manufacturers to their Majesties – thus the word ‘Royal’ was added to the name.

Wall was a talented artist in his own right. He apparently  favoured Classical and Allegorical subjects in a grand historical style. He exhibited at the Royal Academy in both 1773 and 1774, and was probably at his happiest when he had a paint brush in his hand. He died at Bath on 27 June 1776, and here, as a way of remembering this splendid fellow, are a few examples of the Worcester first period porcelain (courtesy of the Worcester Porcelain Museum).

                                                                ‘Three dot’ painter jug

 

 

 

 

 

 

A rare soft paste porcelain helmet jug 1754.

 

 

 

 

A splendidly named guglet and basin from 1754 (named after the noise made when liquid was poured from the bottle).   

 

 

And finally a sauce boat with the black overglaze transfer print (and by the way, any of these will be most welcome as Christmas presents….)

Jun 252012
 

The importance of the humble loaf of bread in Georgian diets is hard to imagine. Out of my ancestor’s household expenses in 1796 totalling just over one hundred pounds for the whole year, a quarter was paid to the butcher but the next main supplier was the baker, at roughly 20% of total outgoings. (Interestingly, vegetables were not bought at any time in the year – they were either home-grown or not consumed at all!).

Richard Hall’s diaries are therefore full of details about the price of bread – and he was horrified at the way grain prices rocketted in the final years of the century, as war with France caused rampant inflation.

As a younger man he would regularly cut out the newspaper notices of the approved prices for bread (they were regulated at the local Assizes). His early interest may have been because he had farming interests in the Cotswolds: naturally he wanted to know what price different cereal crops were fetching. In peacetime the main buyers of grain  were the millers, for producing flour. Come wartime and the sale of beer increased, forcing barley prices up as the brewers competed with the millers. The millers wanted the grain harvested earlier than the brewers, so farmers needed to second-guess which way the market would go. And of course, farmers expected to be paid “on the nail” ( a reference to the “nails” in Bristol, circular-topped pedestals where samples of the grain were laid out for inspection in front of the Corn Exchange.).

I was intrigued to read  Edlin’s “A Treatise on the Art of Bread-Making”  published in London in 1805, where it gives all manner of different grains and produce which could be adapted for bread making – rice, acorns, even potatoes. I had no idea anyone would try and make bread from such things! And while we are on the subject of bread substitutes I feel it is appropriate to add in a Gillray cartoon, dated 1795 and entitled “Substitutes for Bread.” The list on the wall suggests that venison, roast beef and poultry are all acceptable alternatives – for the rich! The poor can just go without (in an echo of “let them eat cake”).

Diderot's picture of the inside of the bake house

Edlin’s  treatise explained about the actual bakery: “A bakehouse is a manufactory where bread is made for the purposes of sale. In order to render it convenient, it should be attached to the dwelling house, and have an inner door opening into the kitchen, and likewise an outer door to open into a small yard. In this yard there ought to be a well or pump, as also a shed for the piling of faggots. The room should be large and commodious, and the floor laid with stone or tiles. On one side should be erected a dresser or counter, with suitable shelves above it; on another side a kneading trough, about seven feet long, three feet high, two feet and a half broad at top, and sixteen inches at bottom, with a sluice board to pen the dough up at one end, and a lid to shut down like that of a box. On the third side a copper that will contain from three to four pails of water should be erected, which is far preferable to the filthy custom of heating the water in the oven; and on the fourth side the oven should be placed.”

Diderot had earlier published his Encyclopédie with a section on the Boulanger  and this includes a picture of the tools of his trade.

 

 

 

 

In several of the houses I have owned there were still working bread ovens in the kitchen. It would have been the cook’s job to get the oven hot enough for baking, by burning twigs in the oven. On reaching the required temperature the remaining twigs and ashes were raked out, the dough inserted, and the iron door closed. Once baking was finished the twigs to be used the following day would be put into the oven as it cooled down, so that the twigs were bone dry and flammable for the next day’s baking.

And as for the recipe for making bread in the eighteenth century, look no further than Encyclopaedia Britannica, which in its 1771 edition informed the reader:

“The meal, ground and bolted, is put into a trough, and to every bushel are poured in about three pints of warm ale, with barm and salt to season it: this is kneaded well together with the hands through the brake; or for want thereof, with the feet, through a cloth; after which, having lain an hour to swell, it is moulded into manchets, which scorched in the middle, and pricked at the top, to give room to rise, are baked in the oven by a gentle fire.”  Mmm, I am not sure that I want my bread moulded into manchets if the baker has been kneading it with his feet!

These pictures show the actual bread sellers at work on the streets (in France, on the left; in Germany, on the right).

   

 

 

 

Jun 242012
 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 © British Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I came across this lovely Rowlandson print at the British Museum website where it appears under the heading “Victims of the steep staircase reveal all”. It is a commentary on the popularity of the Royal Academy summer exhibitions – first held in the new Somerset House in 1780. Somerset House, designed by Sir William Chambers in 1776, with grand entrances on the Embankment and the Strand, provided a spectacular 18th Century Courtyard and a memorable River Terrace on the Thames. It had been designed as a new complex of government buildings with the Royal Academy as its centrepiece. Chambers proclaimed it ‘an object of national splendour as well as convenience’ and ‘a monument to the taste and elegancy of His Majesty’s reign’

It is now the home to the Courtauld Institute, and it quickly became famous for its elegant staircase. In the print Rowlandson is suggesting that the elegance of the design took priority over the functional requirements – after all, some 61,381 people attended the very first exhibition and crowds frequently built up. Rowlandson carries this idea across to show people tumbling down the stairs, head over heels, much to the delight of dirty old men on the sidelines!

 

A modern view of the  spectacular staircase.

 

 

 

 

For the outside of Somerset House, I rather like this view of the choppy River Thames, with St Paul’s cathedral in the background to the right. This water-colour was painted by Edward Dayes around 1790

Inside, it is worth remembering how close together the paintings at the Exhibition would have been displayed – as here in the Ackermann series “Microcosm of London” (in part a collaboration between Pugin, who did the architectural detail, and Rowlandson who supplied the figures).

And finally, my ancestor Richard Hall’s own favourite view of Somerset House. Well, I say that because he bought the print and then used it to make a concertina pocket to keep miscellaneous papers in!

Jun 222012
 

I recently gave a talk on decorated furniture in the Eighteenth Century and until I did my research for it had not appreciated the popularity and importance of papier-mâché throughout that period. Nor did I appreciate how closely the process was linked to the fortunes of Midlands towns, particularly Birmingham and Wolverhampton.

 

In the middle decades of the Eighteenth Century papier-mâché started to be widely used in decorative finishes ( e.g. to make moldings for picture frames, to build up decorative “knobs” on chair legs, and by designers such as Robert Adam with his decoratively molded fireplaces, mirror surrounds etc.).

In 1740 John Baskerville had opened a japanned tin-ware factory in Birmingham. Almost certainly it was tinware which Richard Hall was referring to when he describes buying ‘a japan’d kitchen’ – by which he probably meant a matching set of containers, with a tray. Later, Baskerville  started experimenting with paper rather than tin as a base.

The process of using pulped paper received a huge boost in 1772 when Henry Clay, a Birmingham business man who had quite possibly been apprenticed to John Baskerville, patented a method of pasting paper in sheets, leaving them to be stoved, oiled with linseed oil, shaped, worked and later decorated and varnished. It was used in a huge array of products – from decorative side panels in carriages, through to small items of furniture, boxes etc. It had the advantage of being light weight and the total lack of graining made it far superior to wood when it came to applying an even layer of decoration.

The process began in the molding room where women (and young girls) would lay the wet paper sheets on strips over a copper or tinned metal mould. This was then baked to 100°F and once the required thickness had been built up, the moulded shape was oiled (making it water proof and more durable) and then baked again to 260°F.

The item was then removed to the making up shop where the item could be planed, drilled, turned and assembled by skilled cabinet makers. The product was then ready to be finished – a layer of tar varnish would be added, then it was baked again, then a further thin layer of varnish added, and so on. Children were often used in ‘sweat shop’ conditions for this final stage of the process and the heat and filth in these finishing rooms is hard to imagine. Soot was used to blacken the product, which for a really lustrous finish would have multi-layers of varnish added once the decoration was applied.

The original varnishing process had come from China and the Far East (hence the process became known as japanning) and was amazingly popular. Long case clock cabinets, chests of drawers, tables, and particularly cabinets and display chests were made of papier-mâché and then japanned.

There were problems with the early lacquers brought from the Far East and which were difficult to use: they were highly toxic, and they did not react well to extreme heat (meaning that the object often cracked in the stoving process. A prize of £20 (later increased to £60) was offered by the Society of Arts to the first person to come up with a practical alternative. Step forward Brummie Stephen Bedford who produced a copal varnish in 1763. In effect this is a softer form of amber – semi hardened tree resin.

Combining these developments together meant a huge boom in Midland towns such as Birmingham, Bilston and Wolverhampton, a boom which was to last until the second half of the next century.

I am indebted to Made in the Black Country for some of the information contained in this post, and for the picture of the crumb brush and tray, and to Jane Toller’s book Papier Mache in Great Britain and America. I also love the splendid papier mache cabinet shown above, which appears on the website iof the most helpful Antique Boxes at the Sign of the Hygra

 

Jun 202012
 

Writing in Mansfield Park, Jane Austen has her heroine Fanny Price remark that she would find solace in “ the room…most dear to her” and describes “the table between the windows covered with work boxes and netting boxes”.

Sewing and embroidery provided one of the few  artistic outlets available to women, and I thought it would be interesting to look at the sewing boxes as they developed during the Georgian era. To start with, needles and bodkins were typically kept in fabric rolls. This is an example sold by Bonhams in 2004 and is described as being ‘an 18th Century silk and silver wire floral embroidered pincushion, with blue velvet ground, with red felt needle roll.’

 

Another was designed to keep pins and needles inside a ‘notebook’ style container. It is described as being done in “Flame-stitch or Irish stitch canvas-work. It has a pink calamanco lining and binding tape in a herringbone pattern and contains two interior pockets. It also reveals four scalloped leaves of dark olive green wool with napped surface; these retain large pins with wrapped heads and very fine needles. It also has a loose triangle of binding tape which was used as fastening.”

 

 

Sometimes the needles were kept in elaborately decorated metal cases – this one made of enamelled copper (courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum, and dating from 1770). At the end on the right can be seen the retractable tape measure.

 

These bodkin containers were then kept with the actual work-in-progress in baskets, as seen on the table in this extract from the painting by Francis Wheatley of Mrs Pearce dated 1786.

 

In time, furniture evolved to contain the sewing paraphernalia. Not all were as elaborate as this lacquered wood and ivory example. Thomas Sheraton  defined sewing or “pouch tables” as “Table with a Bag, used by Ladies to work at, in which bag they deposit their fancy needlework.” Later Regency examples had a netting bag underneath, in which fabrics etc could be kept.

 

 

 

 

 

But I am a sucker for boxes, and love the elaborate and clever portable sewing containers which could be taken by a lady on her travels. Hamptons Antiques have a number of delightful examples in their current magazine.

 

This one was made around 1820 and is described as “an exquisite little Regency Cream & Gilt Japanned Sewing Table Cabinet. Decorated on the top & front with gilt chinoiserie and brightly coloured figures set in exotic landscapes. The sides, back and interior show further exotic scenes on a cream back ground.”

 

Or this lovely pen-work sewing box made around 1830, which is described as being “a Bombe shaped regency pen work sewing box decorated with a scrolling leaf pattern and a central portrait of a woman’s face on all four sides. The top has an oriental scene with three Chinese women and a man holding a staff / flag. The interior sycamore tray has a pen work leaf border to its sides and a removable pin cushion again with the same pen-work border. The box is lined in a pale blue paper with the tray having several compartments removable silk pin cushion, thimble holders and central tool pad.”

 

My own favourite is this little beauty, which can also be seen on the Hampton’s website at http://www.hamptonantiques.co.uk/  I can quite see Fanny Price carefully putting her sewing implements away tidily before packing the box with the other items needed whenever she left home…

 

Jun 182012
 

A perusal of the online version of the Daily Mail suggests a contemporary fascination with “wardrobe malfunctions” and whether or not fashionistas on the red carpet are, or are not, displaying underwear (or indeed, speculation on whether they are wearing any at all…). And you can always rely on the Press to pay photographers to take pictures of women getting out of vehicles displaying acres of thigh, just so that the fashion editor can go “Tut tut.”

Nothing new about that! Here are a couple of nice caricatures from the end of the Eighteenth Century. The first, by James Gillray in 1796 shows “Ladies Dress as it soon will be” with our heroine displaying all the qualities of modesty which you would expect from a Liz Hurley or one of the tribe of Kardashians.

The second, published in November 1799 is by Isaac Cruikshank and shows Parisian Ladies in their winter dress for 1800.

And just to give the inside track as to how men were presenting themselves, here is a lovely caricature from 1818 by George Cruikshank.

From left to right: The seated figure exclaims “D__n it! I really believe I must take off my cravat or I shall never get my trowsers on”

To his right “Pon honour Tom you are a charming figure! You’ll captivate the girls to a nicety!!

The half dressed dandy, one calf pad in place, replies “Do you think so Charles? I shall look more the thing when I get my other calf on.”

The figure standing on the chair trying to tie his cravat with both hands, is saying “Dear me this is hardly stiff enough. I wish I had another sheet of fools cap“  to which the dandy looking at himself in the glass replies, (no doubt without a hint of double entendre!) “You’ll find some to spare in my breeches.”

So there you have it – ludicrously high cravats, men being laced into their corsets to give them a fashionably cinched waist, hair combed into a bouffant quiff – and leg-padding to give the right shape inside those oh-so-tight trousers… 1818? Bring it on!

Jun 162012
 

I rather like this fashion print (courtesy of the British Museum) showing what the fashionable male was wearing 225 years ago:

Somehow it sums up why I spend my time in the eighteenth century – style! (When, and why, did the male of the species suddenly give up on being the peacock?)

Jun 152012
 

I confess that I had never heard of a card game called Pope Joan until I came across a picture of a papier mache bowl (offered for sale at auction by Skinners). They described it as being late 19th Century – I would have guessed somewhat earlier, perhaps Regency.

 

A quick search on google reveals a couple of similar bowls – this one a tinware glazed bowl made some time between 1750 and 1770 (shown courtesy of the British Museum).

 

 

There is also another late Georgian one shown here, courtesy of the Graphic Arts Collection, Princeton University Library.

So who, what and why Pope Joan? Apparently stories started circulating in the 1300’s to the effect that around 900 A.D. there had been a female pontiff, who lived her life disguised as a man.

A print showing Pope Joan giving birth, courtesy of the British Museum (c. 1353).

Her cover was blown when she very publicly gave birth to a child while crossing the Via Sacra between the Coliseum and  St Clement’s Church in Rome. Pope John VIII (as she was known) was apparently deposed (or is that de-poped?) and a lovely story suggests that subsequent pontiffs had to undergo a rather intimate examination by a selected Cardinal who would then sing out  “Duos habet et bene pendentes” (“He has two, and they dangle nicely”).

All such scurrilous stories would have been enjoyed  in the Eighteenth Century, a time when anti-Papist feelings ran strong. The name was  given to a card game which became extremely popular in the second half of the century. Played for money it was a game for up to eight players and apart from the staking board shown above, it involved a pack of cards from which the eight of diamonds had been removed. The dealer would start by ‘dressing the board’ – that is to say by placing six counters in the compartment marked ‘Pope’ ( the nine of diamonds), two each in Matrimony and Intrigue, and one each in Ace, King, Queen, Jack and Game.

The cards are dealt with a dummy hand and trumps are selected by turning up the last card dealt. The aim of the game is to win counters by playing cards that correspond to the labeled compartments, and to be the first to run out of cards.

The actual rules are set out more fully here but a summary from that site gives us the following:

The player to the dealers left leads by playing the lowest card he has of any suit he chooses (Ace is low). Whoever holds the next higher card of the same suit plays it next. This continues until no one is able to play and the sequence is stopped. A stop is any King, or any card that no one can follow. Whoever plays a stop card continues the game by playing the lowest card they have of any suit they choose.

Whoever plays the Ace, King, Queen or Jack of trumps, or “Pope”, wins the counters in the appropriate compartment. Anyone playing both Jack and Queen of trumps in succession wins the contents of “Intrigue”.

The first player to play all their cards wins the counters in Game, and also one counter from each player for each card they hold in their hand, except the holder of the unplayed “Pope” card, who is exempted from this payment.

A game consists of several rounds. Unclaimed counters are carried forward to the next deal. It is possible for the “Matrimony” and “Intrigue” compartments to build up large quantities of counters.

The significance of ‘stop cards’ (that is to say the King, or any card which no player can follow e.g. because it is hidden in the dummy hand) is shown by this cartoon by Charles Williams dated  November 1805 (at a time when an invasion by the forces of Napoleon was considered imminent). The lady on the left asks her companion “Whom in your opinion are the happiest couple in England?” and gets the response “The King and Queen Madam, and that’s a stop”

The couple in the middle:  “And do you really think, Major, that Bonaparte means to attempt an Invasion? – pray what is your opinion of him.” To which the answer is given, “A knave Ma’am, and that’s a stop.”

Then on the right a question to the gout-ridden gentleman in his wheel chair: “What unfortunate old lady was that you mentioned just now Mr Spintext?” leading to the response “The Pope, Madam,and I clear the table”

 

I cannot finish without this lovely cartoon by James Gillray  published in 1796 and entitled “Lady Godina’s rout; – or – Peeping-Tom spying out Pope-Joan”

According to the National Portrait Gallery  the caricature refers to Lady Georgiana Gordon (1781–1853), who became Duchess of Bedford in 1803.  The title and the lecherous servant refer to Lady Godiva. Pope-Joan is the card game being played by those assembled; Lady “Godina” is holding the nine of diamonds, which is known as”Pope”. The man sitting on Lady “Godina”‘s right is John Sneyd (1763–1835); the fat woman sitting on her left is Albinia, Countess of Buckinghamshire (died 1816).

Jun 142012
 

In researching a number of Eighteenth Century scientists I keep coming across mention of the Copley Medal – recipients such as Benjamin Franklin (electricity) John Dolland (optics) John Harrison (maritime time-pieces) James Cook (explorer and circumnavigator) Joseph Priestley (chemistry) and William Herschel (astronomy) are just a few of the recipients I have blogged about. Which got me thinking: who was Copley and who else got honoured but have since been forgotten?

I suspect the most forgotten recipient, nay a triple recipient, is one I had never heard of: John Theophilus Desaguliers who won the medal in 1734, 1736 and 1741. The citation doesn’t give much away: “For his experiments made during the year” and “In consideration of his several Experiments performed before the Society” or best of all, “For his Experiments towards the discovery of the properties of Electricity. As an addition to his allowance (as Curator) for the present year.” Which, let’s face it, sounds rather like an award for putting out the chairs before the meeting, fetching the coffee, and being an all-round good egg. (I am being deliberately unfair on JTD, who was an influential inventor (steam engine safety valves) and researcher (he gave us the word ‘conductor’ for things which conduct electricity). But given that the award was first made in 1731, to give it 3 times to the same guy inside ten years (and 2 of those years were blank) showed a lack of imagination on the part of the Royal Society who then, as now, administer the award.

In the intervening centuries there has only ever been one female recipient (loud cries of “shame on you” and “Boo! Hiss”) when in 1976 the British chemist Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin was awarded the medal. Fifty two of the medallists have gone on to become Nobel Prize winners (17 in Physics, 21 in Physiology or Medicine, and 14 in Chemistry).

To start with it was decided that “a medal or other honorary prize should be bestowed on the person whose experiment should be best approved” by the Royal Society but in 1831 the rule changed: it is now awarded to the researcher who most deserved it. It honours outstanding achievements in research in any branch of science, and alternates between the physical sciences and the biological sciences.

And what of the man himself? Sir Godfrey Copley, 2nd Baronet FRS (c. 1653 – 9 April 1709) was a wealthy English landowner, art-collector and public figure, who lived in Sprotbrough, now part of Doncaster in South Yorkshire. His father had been made a baronet by King Charles II in 1661, and he succeeded to the title in 1678. By then he was already High Sheriff of Yorkshire, and was elected a member of the Royal Society in 1691.

He served as Member of Parliament for Aldborough from 1679 to 1685 and for Thirsk from 1695 to 1709, and also served as commissioner of public accounts and controller of the accounts of the army.

In 1709 he made a bequest in the sum of one hundred pounds, “in trust for the Royal Society of London for improving natural knowledge.” Sir Godfrey died of a quinsy (a form of tonsillitis) at his house in Red Lion Square off Holborn in 1709 and is buried at Sprotborough.

A second donation of £1666 13s. 4d. was made by Sir Joseph William Copley in 1881, and the interest from that amount is used to pay for the medal. The medal in its current format is made of silver gilt and awarded with a £5000 prize.

Recent recipients of the medal have included Stephen Hawking (2006) ‘for his outstanding contribution to theoretical physics and theoretical cosmology’ and Dan Mackenzie in 2011 (‘for his seminal contributions to the understanding of geological and geophysical phenomena including tectonic plates’).

I am intrigued by the work of some of the scientists honoured in the Eighteenth Century:

In 1738 James Valoue got the award “For his invention of an Engine for driving the Piles to make a Foundation for the Bridge to be erected at Westminster, the Model whereof had been shown to the Society”

In 1747 Gowin Knight was recognized “On account of several very curious Experiments exhibited by him, both with Natural and Artificial Magnets”

In 1750 the award went to George Edwards “On account of a very curious Book lately published by him, and intitled, A Natural History of Birds, &c. – containing the Figures elegantly drawn, and illuminated in their proper colours, of 209 different Birds, and about 20 very rare Quadrupeds, Serpents, Fishes, and Insects.”

1770 saw William Hamilton given the Copley Medal “For his Paper, entitled, An Account of a Journey to Mount Etna”

In 1771 Matthew Raper was the medallist “For his paper entitled, An Enquiry into the value of ancient Greek and Roman Money”

In 1791 James Rennell was recognized, not his painstaking work as a cartographer in India, but “For his Paper on the Rate of Travelling as performed by Camels, printed in the last … volume of the Philosophical Transactions.”

In all, a fascinating catalogue of scientific research and exploration!