- Museum number
- Object: The Ass Age, or the World in Hieroglyphick
A satirical broadside on society in general, including a reference to the Act of Union between Scotland and England of May 1707; with an etching with engraving showing 13 scenes in ovals and cartouches. In the centre, a large oval (A) showing a donkey ridden by a politician reading Machiavelli; a bespectacled fool sits grinning in front of him while behind Aminadab, a Puritan, sits facing the tail and is attacked by Dam-ye Blade, a thief with a sword, behind whom a Scotsman looks into the scene noting that there will be no room on the ass for him, but consoling himself that the Scots had "made 'em buy the U[nio]n pretty dear". On the left, Boanerges, a High Church cleric perhaps intended for Henry Sacheverell, carrying a church on his shoulder and a whip in his right hand approaches the ass; in front of him, Ananias, a two-faced Low Churchman talks to the man leading the ass. In front of them a courtier claims his right to ride, but is contested by a countryman, Hob, as he tries to pull the puritan off the ass. At upper left is a hill on which an elegant couple and a rustic couple dance to the tune of a fiddle while a crippled soldier looks on. The central oval is surrounded by smaller images showing scenes of various social types on donkeys: B, the country squire with his young bride who holds a whip, their ass led by a clergyman and accompanied by a fiddler and bagpiper; C, the same pair, the ass now led by a lawyer with a large money bag and its tail is pulled by a devil; D. a poet, described as Bayes (a character in Buckingham's "The Rehearsal") reading a satire lead by a satyr around Mount Parnassus; E. a young man ""the Hero") holding a laurel wreath returning from war with cupid aiming an arrow in his direction; F. the "Projector" or entrepreneur reading a paper as sets off to lobby parliament; G. "Gravity", a man of wealth and dignity, who keeps a mistress in Islington; H. an elderly debauchee who takes snuff as he rides from a brothel; I. a fashionable woman riding side-saddle with a parrot on her wrist and a monkey dressed as a page; K. a merchant of Ludgate Hill returning to town in his hired coach with a postilion in a fool's cap; L. a cuckold led by a fool riding face to face on an ass with his young wife's fawning lover, who is shown embracing her on the right. At the top and the bottom are unlettered pastoral scenes with asses, including one where an ass is being milked and another where a youth sucks milk from an ass. With engraved title, lettering A-L, and verses, including legend, in four columns. ([London], Morphew: [ca1707])
- Production date
Height: 258 millimetres (etching (cut within the platemark))
Height: 472 millimetres (printed area)
Width: 337 millimetres (cut within platemark)
Width: 337 millimetres (etching (cut within the platemark))
- Curator's comments
- The print was advertised in The Post Boy, February 21-24 1707/8: "Lately Publish'd, A Celebrated Amusement, call'd the Ass-Age, or, the World in Hieroglyphick, curiously Engrav'd on Copper-Plate: And whereas it has been Counterfeited in Wood, wherein it is disfigur'd, and many things left our [out]: That no Encouragement may be given thereto, This is to acquaint the World, that the Copper-Plate sold before for 6d. will now be sold for 3d. sold by J.Morphew near Stationers Hall. Also the Lawyers Coat of Arms [BM Satires 1284], dedicated to their Clients, for the use of Michaelmas Term." ( (quoted by C.H.L. George, Topical Portrait Print Advertising in London Newspapers and The Term Catalogues:1660-1714, Ph.D. thesis, Durham, 2005 (http:// newspaperadvertisements.wordpress.com)
Malcolm Jones notes (30/9/2014) that the print is damaged bottom right, only the word "Beware" being legible. The Harvard impression (Houghton Library) reads, "Beware paultry woodencutts" .
For a related, earlier print by Renold Elstrack, see BM 1855-1-14-189.
"Sawney", derived from the name Sandy, began to be used as a pejorative term for a Scotsman around this time.
- Not on display
- Associated events
- Associated Event: Act of Union 1707
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number