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Birkbeck partook of Mr. Gall's gratifying conmiunica-
tion) that Mrs. Thomason is likely to accompany you to
town ; that we should be delighted to see her also in
Broad Street, I hope it is quite needless to offer her a
formal assurance.

From the interest which you have taken in the London
University, you will be glad to learn that it has been suc-
cessful beyond the expectation of its most sanguine
supporters. It now numbers, in its different classes,
about five hundred and forty students, and is every day
receiving new names, in addition to a long and respect-
able list of proprietors. The public see clearly, in de-
spite of the attempts made to defame it, that its objects
are honest and useful ; and the impression is becoming,
in all directions, most favourable and encouraging. Your
name has been often respectfully mentioned by the Coun-
cil, and every individual in it would feel proud to display
to you the progress that we have already made^

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^^Mrs. Birkbeck joins in kindest regards to Mrs. 1829.
Thomason and yourself.

" Your obliged and faithful friend,

** E. Thomason, Esq."

" Rome, Feb. 21, 1829.


" I hasten to return you my best thanks for the
very handsome manner in which you have been so good
as to present me with your splendid and interesting
series of scientific and philosophical medals. 1 shaU
have the greatest interest in examining them on my visit
to Alton in the month of June next, and hope, during
my short stay in England, to have the pleasure of re-
turning you my thanks in person, and of congratulating
with you on the success of yoiu* enterprize. The arts
and sciences were already your debtor to a large extent ;
but you appear now to have increased the obligation in
a manner which will associate your name for ever with
them, and immortalize you together.

In writing to you from a city which has at all times
been celebrated by some of the most astonishing efforts
of human genius ; which possesses the finest monuments
which the arts and sciences have ever produced ; and
which is, at the same time, the metropolis of the Christian
world, I cannot resist the temptation of expressing my
delight at the prospect of the renewal of a friendly
intercourse, after so long an interruption, between the
Court of Rome and the Court of England. It will be
one of the happy effects of the removal of those civil

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1829. disabilities, on account of religious opinions, which have
so long distracted the Empire, but which a wise and
a liberal policy is now about to destroy for ever, for the
purpose of consolidating the strength of a whole people
in one eternal bond of amity and peace.
" I have the honour to remain. Sir,

"Your most obedient and obliged servant,

(From the Courier Newspaper, January iStb, 1829.)

We have had an opportunity of inspecting a series of
scientific and philosophical medals, lately struck at Mr.
Thomason's manufactory at Birmingham. They form
a sort of metaUic encyclop»dia of useful knowledge,
which, of course, as far as durability is concerned, are
undoubtedly certain to outlive every record on paper,
parchment, and similar materials. The medals are
three inches in diameter, and a trifle thicker than a
crown-piece. Each medal bears raised inscriptions on
both sides, expressive of the various axioms, definitions,
general or special, truths and observations of data and
phenomena, relative to the science on which it professes
to treat. As a source of information, there are some
inconveniences attending the study of these medals —
namely, that the reading the inscriptions is very dis-
tressing to the eye, the refraction and every-varying
angle of incidences of the light upon the polished

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sorfiace dazzles and fatigues the sight, and is more than 1829.
what most ordinary visions can endure for any length of
time. The voluminousness and higher price of the
medals is likewise an objection that renders typogra-
phical legends preferable. Had the ancients committed
their inventions and discoveries of practical utility to the
keeping and preservation of numismatic monuments,
many a valuable arcanum, the recovery of which has
long and vainly puzzled modem ingenuity, would not
have been lost to us. We are led to these reflections by
a glance at the very first of Mr. Thomason's medals,
which treats of Mechanics. Had the architects of the
pyramids left us a description (upon almost imperishable,
or, at any rate, but slowly-decaying medals) of the
mechanical apparatus by which they raised such huge
masses of stone to enormous heights, we should be less
puzzled than we are to trace the construction of the
now invisible instrument from the still visible efiect.

No. 1 of Mr. Thomason's Medals treats of Mechanics,
Statistics, and Dynamics ; and, though it was impossible
to crowd the contents of the innumerable works written
on these subjects into a small space, Mr. T. mentions
the mechanical powers, the lever, the wheel and axle,
the pulley, the inclined plane, the wedge and screw, the
theory of friction, pressure, percussion, &c, and as much
of their application to useful purposes as the limited
nature of the space will admit of.

Medal S treats of Optics. It was equally difficult, of
course, for Mr. T. to compress the contents of Sir Isaac
Newton's Treatise on Optics, the Theory of Light, and
the more recently observed phenomena of Polarisation,
into a circle of three inches diameter ; but he has skil-
fully selected the most remarkable data.

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1829. Medal 3 presents, on the obverse, an abstract of the
phenomena of Electricity, and on the reverse those of

4. Hydrostatics and Hydraulics.

5. Metallurgy and Specific Gravity, or the relative
weights of various fluid and solid substances, compared
to distilled water, at a given temperature, as the unity.

6. Chemistry — a science so vast, that only a few gene-
ralities find room on the narrow surface of a MedaL

7« Astronomy — contains distances of the Planets from
the Sun, their diameters, orbits, &c. ; the Zodiacal Signs.
The spots in the Moon are in a style of dead silver,
which produces a very handsome effect.

8. Mineralogy. 9. Geology. 10. Crystallography.

11. Mountains— the summits of Chimborazo, Coto-
paxi, &c.. South America, and of Mont Blanc and
Mount iEtna, in Europe, are delineated in dead silver,
to show the difference of elevation. At the bottom is
Snowdon and other mountains in Britain.

12. Phrenology. This Medal represents a full face,
and profile of a head, with all the organs numerically
pointed out. Both heads are elegantly executed ; and,
considering the variety of the inscriptions, but few
tjrpographical mistakes occur in any of the medals.
We cannot help noticing, however, that, in the third
organ of this profile, inhabitiveness is spelt inhibitive-
ness ; as well as elsewhere cubic foot has been written
with a q — ^but these are trifles.

13. 14, 15, 16, — referring to steam-engines by New-
comen, Watt, and Perkins, — are of great interest to those
who watch the rise and progress of useful inventions.
A magnifying glass accompanies the collection, which is
enclosed in an elegant case, lined with red velvet, and

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will, no doubt, form a valuable addition to the cabinets 1829.
of the curious, who may supply themselves at the manu-
factory of the patentee, Mr. Edward Thomason, Church
Street, Birmingham, who, it seems, holds his Majesty's
letters patent for making gold and silver mounted medals
and coins ; and had the honour of lately presenting a
series of his medals, on gilt plate, splendidly bound, to
the King ; when his Majesty was pleased to accept the

" Berlin, SOth March, 1829.
** Respected Sir,

" After receiving your letter, I inquired
upon the arrival of your medals. The medals are in his
Majesty's hands ; my opinion has been asked on the sub-
ject, and you will, I hope, be favoured by an answer in a
short delay.

" You allow me to present my respectful compliments
to your lady.

" I am, Sir,
"Your most obedient humble servant,


To Edward Thomason, Esq.^

« Paris, le 1? Janvier, 1829.
" Monsieur Edward Thomason,

** Dans un de vos voyages a Paris, et lorsque
vous dtes venu visiter la monnoie royale des m^daiUes,

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1829. T0U8 avez eu le bont6 de m'offiir vos services, pour tout
ce qui pourrait avoir rapport k Tart numismatique.

** Je viens maintenant. Monsieur, vous mettre k con-
tribution : Padministration devant faire un travail sur
la fabrication des m^dailles en or, argent et cuivre,
aurait besoin de quelques renseignements. Je prends la
liberty de m'adresser k vous, avec la certitude que vous
ferez tout ce dont vous devez Hre persuade qu'elle ferait
pour vous.

" Servoir.

" 1. M6daiUes d'or et d'argent.

** Le prix de m6dailles est-il fix6 d'apr^s leur poids ?
Quel est, dans ce cas, le prix par unit^ de poids ? (fabri-
cation comprise.) Quel est le titre de Por et Fargent ?

** Le prix de la fabrication varie-t-il suivant le module
ou diam^tre des m^dailles, et quil est-il ?

*^La fabrication se regle-t'-elle k prix defendu ou
debattu ? Quel est, dans ce cas, le prix moyen pour
les m^dailles du diam^tre de 16 lignes— 18— 20. 22—
24—26 — 28— 30— 32— et 36 lignes, les jetons ronds et
octogennes ?

" 2. M6dailles de bronze (alliage de cuivre et d'etain
au 10) ou de cuivre bronze.

"Le prix de fabrication se paye-t-il d'apres leur
dimension ?

" Le prix des m^dailles est-il fix6 d'apres leur relief,
ou les difficultes que pent affair leur fabrication ?

" Dans le premier cas, quel est le prix pour les divers
modules (voyez d'autre part) ?

" Dans le second, qui rentre dans la cath^gorie des
prix defendus ou debattus, quels sent les^prix moyens.

" Je crois utile de joindre k la pr^sente un tarif des
prix de la monnoie des m^dailles de Paris. Cette pi^ce

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peut ^tre utile au d^velopement des questions ci-dessus, 1829.
et donne des renseignements indispensables sur nos mo-
dules et nos titres.

^^ Je vous demande miUe pardons de vous donner tant
d'embarras ; non seulement vous pouvez sur Padmiois*
tration, mais encore sur moi particuli^rement ; je me
ferai toujours un vrai plaisir de vous Hre agr^able.

"J*ai rhonneur d'etre avee la consideration la plus

" Monsieur,
*• Votre tr^s-humble et tr^s-obeissant serviteur,


** Charge de la vente k la monnoie
royale des m^dailles.
" A Mens. E. Thomason, Manufacturier,

At this period I finished a fine medal of Sir Walter
Scott. The obverse of this medal was considered a very
fine likeness of him, and the allegory of the reverse was
generally admired. The legend, " Truths severe in
fairy fiction dressed/*

" Palais Royal, 9 Fevrier, 1829.
" J'ai re9u, Monsieur, la belle m^daille de Sir Walter
Scott que vous avez fi:*appee et que vous voulez bien
m'offirir. Je suis sensible k cette attention de votre part

2 2

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1829. dont je V0U8 remercie avec plaisir. Recevez, Monsieur,
Passurance de mon sentiment pour vous

" Votre affcctionn^,


" M. Edward Thomason, a Birmingham,
Vice Consul de France.**

At this period I finished a fine medal to conunemo-
rate the emancipation of the Catholics. The allegory
was highly approved : the legend, " Ireland pacified.**
I presented many of them ; amongst others to the
Lord Mayor of London, the Duke of Wellington, the
Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Marrahle, Esq., John Nash,
Esq., Architect to the King, &c.

" Mansion House, London, 17th April, 1829.
" Sir,

" I have this day had the honour to receive a
medal commemorative of the great event which has just
taken place, on the removal of the civil disabilities under
which our Roman Catholic brethren have so long
laboured. The Duke of Wellington is now immortalized
both as a warrior and a statesman. I have no doubt all
those advantages to the country which the most sanguine
politician expected will be realized, that " Ireland** will

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be ^* pacified,'' and Protestant and Roman Catholic will 1829.
in future meet like friends and fellow Christians. As an
individual who took some share in the discussion upon
this great national question, I assure you the medal is
most acceptable to me, both on account of the event it
commemorates, and the beauty and excellence of the
workmanship displayed by the artist.

" I have the honour to be,
" Your faithful and obedient Servant,


" Edward Thomason, Esq:

Lord Mayor of London.

London, April 18th, 1829.

presents his compliments to Mr. Thomason, and begs
leave to return his thanks for his letter and the medal
which- he has been so good as to send to him."


"London, April 18th, 1829.

" I beg to thank you for the very handsome
present of the medal which I received yesterday. The
execution of it is admirable, and the event it records will,
I trust, not only ensure the pacification of Ireland, but,
under the shield of civil and religious freedom, consoli-

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1629. date the glory and proeperity of the empire. It is no
small gratification to see this early expression <^ the
liberal sentiments of so distinguished a town as Bir-

" I remain, Sir,
" Very sincerely your humble servant,

Edward Thomason, Esq,, Birmingham/

"No. 14, Regent Sti-eet, 12th April, 1829.
" Dear Sir,

" Excess of business has prevented me ac-
knowledging your handsome present earlier. It does
your talent and industry the greatest possible justice ;
and permit me to wish you success in your aspiration to
fame, and which your enterprizing spirit cannot fail to

" I am, dear Sir,

" Very sincerely yours.

" Edward Thomason, Esq."

" Carlton House, July 18.
"Dear Sir,

" The medals have arrived safe, and in
beautiful execution ; for myselfy thanks, thanks, thanks.

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"Sir Benjamin will answer after to-morrow, but I 1829.
thought you would like to know that they are here.
** Yours ever faithfully,

** Devil of a bustle I have been in for many days.*

" Chester, June 29th, 1829.

" Mv dear Sir,

" I wrote to you last week to acknow-
ledge the receipt of your letter. I now address you, as I
have to impart what I know will give you pleasure. His
Grace the Duke de Chartres returned yesterday even-
ing, and I immediately waited on his Lordship at the
Royal Hotel, who appointed nine o'clock this morning
for me to accompany him to Eaton Hall, which I did ;
and a great treat it was to his Lordship, the General,
and another gentleman who travels with him, as well as
to myself. We went over the house and gardens, greatly
improved since I last saw them, indeed they are most
superhy and I am informed the house, &c., cost Lord
Grosvenor one million and a half of pounds. The Duke
brought me in his carriage to my own house, and then I
shewed him my collection of pictures, about three hun-
dred^ in two rooms, with which he was much pleased ;
indeed he is a very fine and accomplished young noble-
man, and has given me an invitation to France.

" I am now writing to you on a subject I have long
intended, which is to recommend to you to manufacture
a wine funnel on a new construction. I have mentioned
this subject to persons, and have been informed that

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1829. such is invented, but 1 never saw one. You are aware
that those now used, for want of air, let the wine, in
decanting, spill over the neck of the bottle. Now can-
not you make one to rise an inch or two above the neck
of the decanter to admit of air, which would obviate
the inconvenience I allude to, and I think would be a
good speculation for yourself?

"Compliments to Mrs. Thomason and your sister,
whom I hope are well, being,

" My dear Sir,
" Your faithful and obedient servant.

" Edward Thomason, Esq., Birmingham.**

" Wharton HaU, Aug. 14, 1829.
y5C ^^»^^Cj^^ ^o^^c^^ifrt.^ presents

his compliments to Mr. Thomason, and was so much
gratified himself with what he saw at Mr. Thomason's,
that he could not allow Mr. Beaumont, nephew of Sir
George Beaumont, of this place, the bearer of this note,
to pass through Birmingham without desiring him to
look at the Warwick vase, and other specimens of Mr.
T.*s art, which the Bishop himself saw with so much

" Paris, le 28 Aout, 1829.

" Je m* empresse. Monsieur, de vous annoncer

que le Roi, voulant vous accorder un t6moignage de sa

bienveillance particuli^re et reconnaitre Thommage que

vous lui avez fait d'une collection de m^dailles irapp^es

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en Y honneur des sciences, m' a autorise k vous remettre, 1829.
en son nom, la collection complette des M6dailles de
France. Je vais prendre less mesures necessaires pour
que cette collection vous parvienne incessamment.

" Je me f^licile, Monsieur, d* 6tre charg6 de vous
transmettre cette marque de la munificence de Sa

^* Recevez, Monsieur, 1' assurance de ma consideration

"Le Pair de France, Ministre d* Etat Intendant
General de la Maison du Roi.

" M. Edward Thomason, Manufacturier,
a Birmingham.''

The series consists of —

Reign of Charles VIII. A.D., 1400.

Reign of Louis XIL

Reign of Francis I.

Reign of Henri II.

Reign of Francis II.

Reign of Charles IX.

Reign of Henri III.

Reign of Henri IV.

Reign of Louis XIIL

Reign of Louis XIV.

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1829. Reign of Louis XV.
Reign of Louis XVL
Reign of Louis XVIIL
Reign of Charles X.

" Combermere Abbey, Dec. 29.

" I am favoured with your letter of the 24th
inst, and am sorry to say that the Duke of Wellington,
left me this morning. I proposed to his Grace paying
a visit to Birmingham on his return home, but he was
obliged to go from hence into Northamptonshire to meet
the Duke of York ; his Grace, however, promises to
come here next summer, and he will then be happy to
avail himself of the opportunity of visiting Birmingham.

" I am, Su-,
" Your most obedient humble servant,

E. Thomason, Esq/*

1880. To shew the state of my manufactory in this year, I
refer to page 177, io Wesfs Topography of Warwick-
shire, published in 1830, in which he says —

" On quitting the Blue Coat School, and proceeding
westward, Colemore now presents itself, forming the
northern boundary of St. Philip's (Churchyard) Square,
with Church Street nearly in the centre. Here the at-
tention of the first distinction has for many years been
arrested, in viewing the produce of native talent in the
manufactories and show-rooms of Mr. Thomason ; they

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may be termed, to a considerable extent, an epitome of ISdO.
what Birmingham exhibits in metaUurgy.

** In October, 1828, the writer of this article requested
permission of the proprietor to inspect his manufactory
and show-rooms, which, with his accustomed civility, was
immediately complied with, and as the visit was not one
of mere curiosity, but to record the various branches of
manufacture, the proprietor politely offered to walk over
the whole establishment with him, and explain any pro-
cess that might be required. The appointment was made
for ten o'clock in the morning, and he had the good for-
tune to be joined at the same moment by Mr. Oldham,
the celebrated engineer of the Bank of Ireland; upwards
of four hours were employed in exploring the various
workshops, as they conveniently lay in succession, com-
mencing with one where ivory and pearl-handled knives
and forks are mounted, with and without ferrules. It
was interesting to observe the dexterity used to complete
the handle of a knife, from the sawing a slab off the
elephant's tooth, to the formation and polish of the ivory;
but beautiful as the polish appeared from the implements
employed, that of the hand alone made it the more perfect.

" This shop led to a succeeding room, where the pro-
cess of plating upon steel arrests and interests the atten-
tion for sometime. It is curious to witness the powerful
affinity between steel and tin ; the latter forms the essen-
tial agent to lay between the steel and the silver. A
medium must be obtained that has an affinity for both ;
this medium is found as above, which is afterwards in-
geniously expelled by compression at a certain tempera^
ture, and the rolled silver, which is of ample thickness,
is attached firmly to the steel. This mode of plating has,
however, its limits at present, being principally applied

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1830. to small articles, such as spoons, forks, and dessert
blades ; and never yet has been used upon candlesticks,
waiters, tea-urns, or articles of a similar description.
The next room was for bronzing upon copper, such as
small vases, lamps, &c. The two classes of bronzing
was shown and explained. One formed by acids, creating
an oxide from the piece to be bronzed, the other by pre-
cipitating the oxide already formed from the sulphate of
nitrate of copper. The next workshop was confined to
the making of silver mounted epergnes, branches, and
candlesticks, the soldering and fixing on the silver edges,
the rolling of figured patterns upon silver mountings,
&c. In an adjoining room the process of polishing silver
cups and waiters was carried on. In the next room was
displayed the ingenious and curious mode of cutting the
worms upon both hollow and solid shafts by machinery.
The process of drawing hollow brass tubes, and brass
upon iron tubes, are all worthy of observation.

" In proceeding through the room for modelling and
sculpture, the principal article under execution in this
department was the shield of Achilles, to be manufac-
tured in gold plate. The room in succession was solely
devoted to the burnishing of plated wares by the hand.
An adjacent room comprises a great deal to arrest the
attention — 1st, the forming and burnishing of buttons by
machinery ; 2d, a very complicated machine for making
button shanks ; 3d, a beautiful machine for engraving
on buttons, &c. ; 4th, an engine for the cutting of wheels,
and for chasing the flowers upon waiters, &c.

" The next in succession was a workshop of another
description, where powerful stamps, numerous dies cut
on wreaths of flowers, figures, and ornaments are de-

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posited. In this place impressions are produced upon 1830.
rolled and flattened silver with one concussion.

**In the succeeding room silver is taken from the
furnace and poured into ingots of the sizes adapted to
the different sorts of works in the establishment ; the
forging bars of silver into table spoons and forks was
carried on in this part of the concern. In the next
department, metal into square ingots for plating and
rolling ; and in another shop is performed the operation
for plating or attaching the slab of silver to the slab of
copper, prior to its being rolled into sheets. It was
remarked that this process was not generally shewn.
The furnace had an extraordinary quick draught, and
the union of the metals requires much skill and judgment.

" The foundry, where a fine statue of his Majesty was
cast in copper, adjoins the foregoing shop. Nearly
adjoining is the brazier's shop, where, with polished
steel hammers and anvils, the large silver and plated
dishes and dish covers, &c., are beaten into form. In
the adjoining room is the medal department, where, with
powerful presses with fly-wheels, the medals or coins
are manufactured ; the fine dies for these medals are
arranged in regular order in the conservatory in one of
the warehouses. Mr. Thomason remarked that he held
the greatest number of medal dies of any person in
Europe, except the King of France.

" The next is the place where servants* livery buttons
are stamped with crests, arms, &c., and for which there
are one thousand dies.

" Adjoining is the lapidary room, where the real and
imitative gems are cut into facets ; there is also another
adjoining room, where the general jewellery department
is conducted, from the melting of the gold to the rolling

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1880. of it, and drawing it into ware; the setting of real

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Online LibraryQuébec (Province). LegislatureSessional papers → online text (page 21 of 25)