William Wyon

William Wyon RA (Birmingham 1795 – 29 October 1851), was official chief engraver at the Royal Mint from 1828 until his death.

India 1 Rupee 1884 Victoria(obv)-4037
Obverse: Crowned bust of Queen Victoria surrounded by her name.
India 1 Rupee 1884 Victoria(rev)-4038
Reverse: Face value, country and date surrounded by wreath.
Posthumous medallic portrait of William Wyon by his son L. C. Wyon (1854)


Wyon was born in Birmingham and was apprenticed to his father, a die sinker, in 1809.[1] In 1816, he went to London. He studied the works of John Flaxman, attended the schools of the Royal Academy, and gained a gold medal from the Society of Arts for a copy of the head of Ceres, and a second for an original group. In 1816 he was appointed assistant engraver to the mint, and in 1828 chief engraver. In 1831 he was elected associate and in 1838 full member of the Royal Academy.[2][3] He died in Brighton.[4] Wyon is buried under a simple rectangular York stone slab at West Norwood Cemetery. He was the father of engraver Leonard Charles Wyon.


Under the influence of Flaxman, a master of relief sculpture, Wyon was a highly visible proponent of the Neoclassicist vogue.[5]

In 1834 he modelled the head of Princess Victoria, who was 15 years of age at the time. This work was subsequently used for the City Medal struck in 1837 to celebrate Victoria's first visit to the City of London after her accession to the throne[6] and another medal also issued in 1837 commemorating her visit to the Guildhall.[7]

The name of William Wyon is well known among coin and medal collectors because of his prodigious output and artistic skill. He designed the second and third effigies of George IV, the effigy of William IV in 1830, working from the bust by Sir Francis Chantrey,[8] and "The Young Head", which graced Victoria's coinage from 1838 to 1860 on the pennies and the rest of the coinage until 1887.[9] He also designed the Naval General Service Medal, of which 20,933 were issued. Notable among his medallic work are the obverse designs for the prize, juror and other medals for The Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace in 1851, the year of his death in Birmingham.

Victoria Young Head by William Wyon
Victoria Young Head by William Wyon, edited as a retro-pattern by the British medallist Donald R Golder for the Spink Patina Collection.

Wyon's City Medal was the model for the head on the line-engraved postage stamps of 1840–79, beginning with the Penny Black, the world's first adhesive postage stamp, the embossed stamps of 1847–54 and the postal stationery 1841–1901. The primary die used for the embossed issue was engraved by Wyon; the 1s and 10d stamps have the initials "ww" along with the die number at the base of the neck. His design also influenced the surface-printed stamps first printed in 1855.[10]


  1. ^ Wyon, William, L. Forrer, Biographical Dictionary of Medallists, Volume VI, London 1916, p. 650-687.
  2. ^ Wikisource Baynes, T.S.; Smith, W.R., eds. (1888). "Wyon, William" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 24 (9th ed.). New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
  3. ^ Wroth, Warwick William (1900). "Wyon, William" . In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 63. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  4. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Wyon, William" . Encyclopedia Americana.
  5. ^ M. Jones, "The life and work of William Wyon", in La medaglia neoclassica in Italia e in Europa : atti del quarto Convegno internazionale di studio sulla storia della medaglia, 20–23 giugno 1981: Palazzo Belgrado/Palazzo del Torso/Aula magna del CISM, Udine, CIAC libri, 1984, pp. 119–40; as cited "Silver frosted bronze medal of St. Thomas's Hospital, by William Wyon: The Cheselden Medal", British Museum. On line. Archived 18 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Wyon City Medal (1837) and the Penny Black (1840)", Images of the World Archived 9 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Visit of Queen Victoria to the Guildhall
  8. ^ see Carlisle, 'Memoir', quoted below at Biography
  9. ^ James C. Johnston Jr., "Victoria Regina", Journal of Antiques and Collectibles (April, 2005)
  10. ^ "Great Britain Victorian Stamps", Images of the World Archived 26 April 2012 at WebCite


External links

Preceded by
Jean Baptiste Merlen
Coins of the pound sterling
Obverse sculptor

Succeeded by
Leonard Charles Wyon
1838 in art

Events from the year 1838 in art.

Baltic Medal

The Baltic Medal was a campaign medal approved in 1856, for issue to officers and men of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, and Royal Sappers and Miners who served in Baltic Sea operations against Russia in the Baltic theatre of the Crimean War between March 1854 and August 1855. The medal primarily covered naval actions but was also awarded to 106 men of the Royal Sappers and Miners who were landed to place demolition charges against Russian fortifications at Bomarsund and Sveaborg.

Benedetto Pistrucci

Benedetto Pistrucci (29 May 1783 – 16 September 1855) was an Italian gem-engraver, medallist and coin engraver, probably best known for his Saint George and the Dragon design for the British sovereign coin. Pistrucci was commissioned by the British government to create the large Waterloo Medal, a project which took him thirty years to complete.

Born in Rome in 1783, Pistrucci studied briefly with other artists before striking out on his own at age 15. He became prominent as a cameo carver and was patronised by royalty. In 1815, he moved to Britain, where he would live for most of the rest of his life. His talent brought him to the attention of notables including William Wellesley-Pole, the Master of the Mint. Pole engaged Pistrucci to design new coinage, including the sovereign, which was first issued in 1817 to mixed reactions. Although Pole probably promised Pistrucci the post of Chief Engraver, the position could not be awarded as only a British subject could hold it. This slight became a long-term grievance for Pistrucci.

Talented but temperamental, Pistrucci refused to copy the work of other artists. When in 1823 George IV demanded that an unflattering portrait of him on the coinage be changed with a new likeness to be based on the work of Francis Chantrey, Pistrucci refused and was nearly dismissed. The Mint did not dismiss him, lest the money already spent on the Waterloo Medal be wasted. Pistrucci kept his place with the Mint for the rest of his life, eventually completing the Waterloo Medal in 1849, though because of its great size it could not be struck. After Pistrucci's death, the George and Dragon design was restored to the sovereign coin, and is still used today.

Chief Medallist of the Royal Mint

Chief Medallist of the Royal Mint was a senior position at the British Royal Mint responsible for the overseeing of medal production. Historically the position was created in 1828 as a compromise to allow Italian engraver Benedetto Pistrucci to be more involved in the mint's engraving process without becoming the Mint's chief engraver. Being a foreign born Italian, appointment of Pistrucci to the prestigious role of Chief Engraver would have proved too scandalous and therefore despite performing the duties of chief engraver he was awarded the title of Chief Medallist. The role of Chief Engraver previously held by Thomas Wyon was awarded to his cousin William Wyon who along with Pistrucci were required to share the wages of both the Chief Engraver and second engraver, much to their disliking. In his role of Chief Medallist, Pistrucci was left feeling bitter at the injustice against him, producing little work of note apart from his Waterloo Medal.

China War Medal (1842)

The China War Medal was issued by the British Government in 1843 to members of the British and Indian forces who took part in the First Anglo-Chinese War (1839–42). The medal was designed by William Wyon.

Fourpence (British coin)

The pre-decimal fourpence (4d), sometimes known as a groat (from Dutch grootpennig = "big penny") or fourpenny bit, was a coin worth one sixtieth of a pound sterling, or four pence. The coin was also known as a joey after the MP Joseph Hume, who spoke in favour of its introduction. It was a revival of the pre-Union coin.

Before Decimal Day in 1971 there were two hundred and forty pence in one pound sterling. Twelve pence made a shilling, and twenty shillings made a pound. Values less than a pound were usually written in terms of shillings and pence, e.g. forty-two pence would be three shillings and six pence (3/6), abbreviated to "three and six" in common speech. Values of less than a shilling were simply written in terms of pence, e.g. eight pence would be 8d.

Indian Meritorious Service Medal (for Europeans of Indian Army)

The Indian Meritorious Service Medal (for Europeans of Indian Army) was a medal to recognize long and meritorious service by European non-commissioned officers in service of the East India Company's Army.

Indian Mutiny Medal

The Indian Mutiny Medal was a campaign medal approved in 1858, for issue to officers and men of British and Indian units who served in operations in suppression of the Indian Mutiny.

The medal was initially sanctioned for award to those troops who had been engaged in action against the mutineers. However, in 1868 the award was extended to all those who had borne arms or who had been under fire, including such people as members of the Indian judiciary and the Indian civil service, who were caught up in the fighting. Some 290,000 medals were awarded.The obverse depicts the diademed head of a young Queen Victoria with the legend VICTORIA REGINA, designed by William Wyon.The reverse shows a helmeted Britannia holding a wreath in her right hand and a union shield on her left arm. She is standing in front of a lion. Above is the word INDIA, with the dates 1857-1858 below. The reverse was designed by Leonard Charles Wyon, who also engraved the die of the medal.The 1.25 inches (32 mm) wide ribbon is white with two scarlet stripes, with each stripe of equal width.

Leonard Charles Wyon

Leonard Charles Wyon (23 November 1826 – 20 August 1891) was a British engraver of the Victorian era most notable for his work on the gold and silver coinage struck for the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887 and the bronze coinage of 1860 with the second ("bun") head portrait, in use from 1860 to 1894.

List of public art in Mayfair

This is a list of public art in Mayfair, a district in the City of Westminster, London.

Mayfair is a residential and commercial area dominated by terraces of town houses. In Grosvenor Square there are several memorials with an American theme, including a memorial garden commemorating the September 11 attacks, due to the former presence on that square of the US Embassy. At the southern end of the district, the courtyard of Burlington House (home of the Royal Academy) on Piccadilly is frequently used as a temporary exhibition space for artworks.

Penny (British pre-decimal coin)

The pre-decimal penny (1d) was a coin worth 1/240 of a pound sterling. Its symbol was d, from the Roman denarius. It was a continuation of the earlier English penny, and in Scotland it had the same monetary value as one pre-1707 Scottish shilling. The penny was originally minted in silver, but from the late 18th century it was minted in copper, and then after 1860 in bronze.

The plural of "penny" is "pence" when referring to a quantity of money and "pennies" when referring to a number of coins. Thus 8d is eight pence, but "eight pennies" means specifically eight individual penny coins.

Before Decimal Day in 1971 twelve pence made a shilling, and twenty shillings made a pound, hence 240 pence in one pound. Values less than a pound were usually written in terms of shillings and pence, e.g. 42 pence would be three shillings and sixpence (3/6), pronounced "three and six". Values of less than a shilling were simply written in terms of pence, e.g. eight pence would be 8d.

This version of the penny was made obsolete in 1971 by decimalisation, and was replaced by the decimal penny, worth 2.4 old pence.

Peter Wyon

Peter Wyon (1797-1822) was an engraver of medals and coins. He was born into a family who had a long tradition of dye-engraving. He was the son of George Wyon, as well as the brother of Thomas Wyon, with whom he went into business for a short time. Both his nephew, Thomas Wyon, and his son, William Wyon, held the position of Chief Engraver at the Royal Mint. After his brother went to London, Wyon remained working in Birmingham. Wyon worked for the manufacturer and business man, Matthew Boulton (1728-1809) in Soho, Birmingham. He was associated with the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists.

Punjab Medal

The Punjab Medal was a campaign medal issued to officers and men of the British Army and Honourable East India Company who served in the Punjab campaign of 1848-49, which ended in the British annexation of the Punjab.The medal was approved on 2 April 1849, for award to all who served in the Punjab between 7 September 1848 and 14 March 1849.

Scinde Medal

The Scinde Medal was authorised on 22 September 1843 and issued to soldiers of the Honourable East India Company, the 22nd Regiment of Foot of the British Army and members of the Indian Navy who manned the Indus Flotilla, who participated in Major General Sir Charles Napier's conquest of Scinde between 1842 and 1843.

Second China War Medal

The Second China War Medal was issued by the British Government in 1861 to members of the British and Indian armies and Royal Navy who took part in the Second Opium War of 1857 to 1860 against China. The medal was designed by William Wyon.The medal's obverse shows the diademed head of Queen Victoria with the legend ‘VICTORIA REGINA’. The reverse has the same shield bearing the Royal Arms, with a palm tree and trophy of arms behind, as found on the First China War Medal with the inscription ‘ARMIS EXPOSCERE PACIM’ above and the word ‘CHINA’ in the exergue below. The suspender is the same as that used on the Indian Mutiny Medal.The medal was issued with the following clasps:

China 1842 (awarded to those who had already received the medal for the First China War)

Fatshan 1857

Canton 1857

Taku Forts 1858

Taku Forts 1860

Pekin 1860The medal could also be awarded without a clasp.The 32 mm ribbon is crimson with yellow edges. The original design had five equal stripes of blue, yellow, red, white and green, edged with red, representing the colours of the Qing dynasty flag, but this ribbon was not finally adopted.The medals are named in indented Roman capitals for the Army, while members of the Royal Marines and Royal Navy were usually issued with unnamed medals.

Sutlej Medal

The Sutlej Medal was a campaign medal approved in 1846, for issue to officers and men of the British Army and Honourable East India Company who served in the Sutlej campaign of 1845-46 (also known as the First Anglo-Sikh War). This medal was the first to use clasps to denote soldiers who fought in the major battles of the campaign.The medal was approved on 17 April 1846.

Thomas Wyon the elder

Thomas Wyon the elder (1767–1830) of the Wyon family was an English engraver of dies, who became Chief Engraver of the Seals.

Una and the Lion

The Una and the Lion was a British £5 gold coin depicting Queen Victoria. It is recognized as one of the most beautiful British coins ever struck. It was designed by William Wyon in 1839, to commemorate the beginning of Queen Victoria's reign (in 1837).

The coin is the lightest of the British £5 coins, weighing only 38.7–39.3 grams.

Wyon family

The Wyon family was an English family of traditional dye-engravers and medallists, many of whom went on to work in prominent roles at the Royal Mint or as engravers in a family die business. Starting from Peter George (II) Wyon who migrated to England from Cologne, Germany many subsequent descendants of have made notable contribution to British numismatics. Over the course of the 19th century two member of the family became chief engraver at the Royal Mint with many more involved in coin design.

Peter George (II) Wyon

George Wyon (d.1796)

Thomas Wyon the elder (1767–1830)

Thomas Wyon (1792–1817)

Benjamin Wyon (1802–1858)

Alfred Benjamin Wyon(1837-1884)

Joseph Shepherd Wyon(1836-1873)

Edward William Wyon(1811-1876)

Allan Wyon (1843–1907) -M- Harriet Gairdner

Reverend Allan Gairdner Wyon (1882-1962)

Olive Wyon (1881–1966)

Allan G. Wyon 1882–1962) -M- Eileen May Trench

1 Daughter

Joseph Shepherd Wyon(1836–1873)

Alfred Benjamin Wyon(1837–1884)

Edward William Wyon (1811–1885) -M- Elizabeth Smyth

Edward Alexander Wyon(1842–1872)

William Wyon (1795–1851)

Leonard Charles Wyon (1826–1891)

Peter Wyon (1797–1822)

George Wyon(1771) -M- Elizabeth Phillips

James Wyon(1804–1868)

George William Wyon (1836–1862)

Henry Wyon(1834–1856)

John George Wyon(1806)

Edward Wyon(1857-1906)

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