World Coins

Medal in auction honors British anti-slavery efforts of 1830s

A British anti-slavery medal from 1834 is being offered during Heritage Auctions’ April 24 to 27 sale.

Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

The fight to end slavery in the British Empire would continue for several decades after slavery was banned in Britain itself in 1807.

An undated (1834) white metal medal celebrating the 1834 abolition of slavery in almost all of the British Empire is being offered in Heritage Auctions’ April 24 to 27 sale that was originally scheduled for the Central States Numismatic Association.

The medal was issued during the reign of William IV, who was king when the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 was passed and went into effect the following year.

The medal in the Heritage auction is by artist Thomas Halliday, who was associated with the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists.

The medal is cataloged as BHM-1669 in British Historical Medals 1760 to 1960 by Laurence Brown.

The obverse depicts a slave in chains, kneeling before Justice, surrounded by the legend AM I NOT A WOMAN AND A SISTER. In the exergue (below the main design) is LET US BREAK THEIR BANDS ASUNDER AND CAST AWAY THEIR CORDS PSALMS 11.3, referencing a passage from the Bible.

The reverse of this medal shows a wreath surrounding the inscription TO THE FRIENDS OF JUSTICE, MERCY, AND FREEDOM, and the names of prominent abolitionists appear on a ribbon intertwined therein.

Emancipation came on Aug. 1, 1834, to all slaves in the British Empire, except for those in “the Territories in the Possession of the East India Company,” Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), and Saint Helena.

The medal measures 40 millimeters in diameter and is graded Mint State 61 Numismatic Guaranty Corp.

The medal has an estimate of $500 to $600.

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