Anti-Slavery Medallion

A work made of stoneware (jasperware and black basalt), cut steel, and ivory.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • A work made of stoneware (jasperware and black basalt), cut steel, and ivory.

Date:

1787

Artist:

Wedgwood Manufactory
England, founded 1759
Modeled by William Hackwood
English, c. 1753–1836
Etruria, Staffordshire, England

About this artwork

A man of African descent, kneeling and shackled in chains, poses the powerful question: "Am I not a Man and a Brother?" Employing a stark contrast of black against a white background, here the Wedgwood pottery used its famous jasperware technique to tackle an issue dear to its founders’ heart: the abolition of the slave trade. Josiah Wedgwood was part of a prominent circle of antislavery reformers and entrepreneurs, along with activist Thomas Clarkson and the physician and scientist Erasmus Darwin (grandfather of Charles Darwin).

Decades before the American Civil War, this medallion was adopted as the seal for the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, founded in Britain in 1787. Also known as “The Seal of the Slave,” it was made in large quantities by Wedgwood and was both sold and distributed for free to promote the cause. Women wore it on bracelets and hair ornaments, and it was even incorporated into clay pipes. The medallion was much like today’s Project Red T-shirts by Gap, red ribbons promoting AIDS awareness, or political campaign buttons.

On View

European Decorative Art, Gallery 232

Artist

Wedgwood Manufactory (Manufacturer)

Title

Anti-Slavery Medallion

Origin

Burslem

Date

1787

Medium

Stoneware (jasperware and black basalt), cut steel, and ivory

Inscriptions

Inscription: "AM I NOT A MAN AND A BROTHER?"

Dimensions

5.2 × 4.1 × 0.64 cm (2 1/16 × 1 5/8 × 1/4 in.)

Credit Line

Amelia Blanxius Memorial Collection, gift of Mrs. Emma B. Hodge and Mrs. Jene E. Bell

Reference Number

1912.326

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

Share

Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions

Share