Little book of treasures from the British Museum, £3.00
Diameter: 4.200 cm
Medals of the kings and queens of England by Jean Dassier
These medals were struck by the Swiss medallist Jean Dassier (1676-1763) in 1731. They represent the kings and queens of England in chronological order from William I (reigned 1066-1087). Dassier presented the group to George II (reigned 1727-1760), the last monarch included.
Dassier produced the series for English collectors who wanted a set of medals of their own monarchs that mirrored the chronological sequences in which they arranged ancient Roman coins of emperors. This in turn derived from the collectors' interest in matching coins and medals to written histories of the ancient world. This form of arrangement had been set out in John Evelyn's Numismata (1694) and was later developed in John Pinkerton's Essay on Medals (1784).
There was no known likeness for a number of the monarchs in the series, usually because they had not issued medals during their reigns. Dassier therefore based their portraits on the imagined engravings in the History of England by Paul de Rapin-Thoyras.
K. Sloan (ed.), Enlightenment. Discovering the (London, The British Museum Press, 2003)