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Medal - Martin Folkes
  • Martin Folkes
    Dassier, Jacques-Antoine, born 1715 - died 1759
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Martin Folkes

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1740 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Dassier, Jacques-Antoine, born 1715 - died 1759 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cast bronze

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 52, The George Levy Gallery, case 1

Object Type
This medal was one in a series of 13 celebrating famous contemporaries living in England (others included Alexander Pope, Robert Walpole and Sir Hans Sloane), executed by the Swiss artist Jacques-Antoine Dassier (1715-1759) during his stay in England between 1740 and 1745. These medals were sold at 7s 6d each (37.5p). They were struck in Geneva from dies made in England, according to the contemporary commentator George Vertue, either because the necessary equipment was not available in England, or because it was cheaper.

Dr Martin Folkes (1690-1754) was an antiquary and collector, who was also to be portrayed by the sculptor Louis François Roubiliac in a memorable marble bust of 1749 (Wilton House, Wiltshire). Folkes was a distinguished scientist and antiquarian, serving as President of the Royal Society between 1741 and 1753, and as President of the Society of Antiquaries from 1750.

Born in Geneva, Dassier was the son of a medallist, Jean Dassier (1676-1763), and trained under the celebrated Paris goldsmith Thomas Germain (1673-1748). He then travelled to Italy, where he worked and studied in Rome and Turin, and came to London in 1740. He stayed in the capital until 1745, when he returned to Geneva. He later worked in Russia, dying in Copenhagen during his return either to Switzerland or England.

Materials & Making
This medal was struck from a die, although it may have originated from a wax model. Certainly the softness and sensitivity of the forms suggest that the original was in wax. Dassier specialised in struck medals, being appointed assistant engraver at the Royal Mint during his time in London. This example is in bronze; other versions are partly gilt bronze.

Physical description

Medal, bronze. Obverse, bust of Martin Folkes, antiquary (1690-1754) to right. Inscription: MARTINUS FOLKES ARM. R. Signed: JA. ANT. DASSIER. Reverse, Inscription, SOCIETATIE REGALIS LONDINI SODALIS. M. DCC. XL.

Place of Origin

London (made)


1740 (made)


Dassier, Jacques-Antoine, born 1715 - died 1759 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Cast bronze


Diameter: 5.2 cm

Object history note

Made in London by Jacques-Antoine Dassier (born in Geneva, Switzerland, 1715, died in Copenhagen, 1759)

Descriptive line

Medal depicting Martin Folkes, by Jacques Antoine Dassier, London, 1740

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

no. S18
Snodin, Michael (ed.), Rococo : art and design in Hogarth's England, London : Trefoil Books, 1984
Eisler, William, "The Construction of the Image of Martin Folkes (1690-1754) Part I: Art, science and Masonic sociability in the age of the Grand Tour", The Medal, no. 58 (Spring 2011), pp. 4-29, p. 8 ill. 7.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
From the Renaissance onwards medals had formed an important category of portraiture, representing individual likenesses in the manner of ancient Roman coins. This medal of Martin Folkes (1690-1754), an antiquarian with an interest in coins, was one of a series of portraits of famous men living in England made by the Swiss-born medallist, Jacques-Antoine Dassier. [27/03/2003]






Sculpture; Portraits; Coins & Medals


Sculpture Collection

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