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Richard Yeo - Chief Engraver to the Royal Mint

 

 

 
This wonderful self portrait of Richard was sent to me by Scott Williams of Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA. The original portrait is hanging in his study and he kindly photographed it for me.
 

Richard first came into public notice in 1746, when he produced the official medal for the battle of Culloden, a badge with an effective ornamental border. In the same year he issued by subscription another Culloden medal, with a rather pretentious reverse, the Duke of Cumberland as Hercules trampling upon Discord. This was sold in in silver for one guinea, and in gold for 'two guineas for the fashion '. Before producing these Medals Richard had engraved a seal with the head of the Duke of Cumberland, taken from life.

In 1749 he was appointed assistant engraver to the Royal Mint, and in 1775 he succeeded John Sigismund Tanner as chief engraver to the Royal Mint. He was a member of the incorporated Society of Artists in 1760, and was one of the foundation members of the Royal Academy, to whose first two exhibitions he was a contributor, sending in 1770 a proof impression of his fiveguinea piece. In the 1760s and 1770s he made the dies for a number of coins of George III. His relatively small number of known medals includes the exquisite Cambridge University Chancellor's medal of 1752 . He died whilst still in office as chief engraver on the 3rd December, 1779. His small collection of coins and medals was sold by auction at Langford's, Covent Garden, on the 2nd and 3rd February, 1780, the sale including his graving tools and colours for painting, 'among which (says the catalogue) is a quantity of his very curious and much esteemed lake' (crimson, scarlet and yellow).

The signature of this medallist is R. YEO and YEO, and research shows that his father John was also involved in the business. The family had lived in London for several generations. Richard's great grandfather, Henry, was a wealthy embroiderer and was probably from the Swimbridge or Wiltshire Yeo family. His son Henry was a goldsmith and painter. This was the time when the different companies were evolving in London and John was probably apprenticed to his father before going into business as a medallist

 

 
The Culloden Medal with the Duke of Cumberland as Hercules and below the head of the Duke of Cumberland designed by Richard
 

Besides the medals enumerated above he made two of the prize medals for Winchester College, and two of the admission tickets for Vauxhall Gardens are signed by him. Several other Vauxhall tickets may also be attributed to him, and if the well known 'Hogarth' ticket for Vauxhall is rightly assigned to him, he must have begun work as a medallist before May, 1733, the date when Jonathan Tyers presented Hogarth with the ticket in question

 

 

This ticket for life admission to Vauxhall Gardens was possibly designed by Richard Yeo, an engraver who taught at St Martin's Lane Academy, of which Hogarth was one of the founders in 1735. The obverse is embossed with the figures of Virtue (Virtus) and Pleasure (Voluptas) above the inscription 'Felices Una' ('One of the Blessed'). The reverse is engraved Hogarth in perpetuam Beneficii memoriam ('Hogarth, in perpetual memory of his favour everlasting').

 

He was also a sitter in two famous paintings, one of which was The Academicians of the Royal Academy by John Sanders, a watercolour, painted in 1773. (see below)

 

 

 

Some more of Richard's work

Lot 214 Great Britain. Pattern 1/3 Guinea in Gold, 1776. By Richard Yeo. George III laureate bust, facing right. Crowned lion on reverse standing on a larger crown. Plain edge. WR-137. R3: Extremely Rare. Despite some tiny contact marks, this is an unusually nice example of this classic little gold pattern, struck the same year as America's independence was declared. Unlike most known pieces, it has no flan flaws, the planchet itself is even and full, the strike is greatly detailed, and there remains a brilliant reflectivity to the surfaces. PCGS graded Proof 63 Cameo. Color photo. Estimated Value $1,500-2,000.

 

Lot 212 Great Britain. Half Guinea, 1775. George III, 3rd Head. Type of S-3733. WR-129. Plain edge. DM-87. This is a very rare (R3) Proof of Record showing the late bust British Gold Coins of the king (portrait by Yeo) with long curls draped beneath the bust and a sort of melon-shaped head. Small abrasions on the face (might be contemporary graffiti). The best one seen. PCGS graded Proof 63. Color photo. Estimated Value $6,000-8,000. Ex Brooker and ex Herman Selig Collection.

The following medals may be mentioned: 1746 Culloden Medal: 1748 Freemasons of Minorca: Academy of Ancient Music: 1752, Chancellor's Medal, Cambridge: 1760, Captain Wilson's Voyage to China.

Richard left a will when he died in 1779, and left most of his money to his nephew Henry Nailstone, and his daughter Elizabeth Nailstone. He also mentions his son in law, John Carpin.

 

 
 
  © 2003-6 Sheila Yeo | For more information on the Yeo family and the research contained in this site email sheila@yeosociety.com or call me on +44 (0)1626 360978