John Croker (engraver)

Last updated

Croker's medal to commemorate the Indemnity Act 1717, dated 1717, signed "I. C." for Iohannis Croker. Clementia Augusti MDCCXVII.png
Croker's medal to commemorate the Indemnity Act 1717, dated 1717, signed "I. C." for Iohannis Croker.

John Croker (21 October 1670 – 21 March 1741), born in Saxony and known in his youth as Johann Crocker, was a master jeweller who migrated to London, where he became a medallist and engraved dies for English and later British coins and medals.

Contents

For most of his adult life Croker worked in England, serving provincial mints as well as that at the Tower of London. For some seven years he engraved the die stamps for the coins of King William III and Queen Anne before becoming Chief Engraver to the Royal Mint, a position he held from 1705 until his death. He worked closely with the head of the Mint, the famous scientist Isaac Newton. [1]

Life

Crocker was born at Dresden in 1670, the son of a cabinet-maker to John George II, Elector of Saxony, by his marriage to Rosina Frauenlaub. His father died while he was still a small boy, and he was apprenticed to his godfather, a goldsmith and jeweller in Dresden. After completing his apprenticeship, Crocker migrated first to the Netherlands and then in 1691 to England. There, he was employed by a jeweller and worked as a medallist, anglicizing his name to "John Croker". In 1697, he became one of the assistants to the chief engraver of the Royal Mint, Henry Harris. [2] After Harris died in 1704, Croker petitioned Lord Godolphin, Lord High Treasurer of England, to succeed Harris in the position, stating that he had

"...by order of the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury succeeded Mr James Rotier in engraving the puncheons and the dyes for the coinage at the Tower and five country Mints, and... performed the service of graver to the Mint or Mints under Mr Harris for the seven years last past. [3]

The officers of the Mint recommended Croker, [4] and on 7 April 1705 he was chosen chief engraver. In the same year he married a Miss or Mrs Franklin, and they had one daughter, who died in childhood. [2]

Shortly after his appointment at the Mint, Croker received confirmation of his right to issue medals on his own account, which was seen as a means of maintaining his engraving skills. [2] The medal pictured (signed "I. C.", not "J. C.", as the inscription is in Latin) commemorates the Act of Grace of 1717, [5] by which hundreds of Jacobites were freed almost two years after the Jacobite rising of 1715. [6] Struck in silver as well as in bronze, [5] [7] on the obverse is the head of King George I, on the reverse the winged figure of Clemency surrounded by the words "CLEMENTIA AVGVSTI". In her left hand is an olive branch, in her right hand is a caduceus with which she touches the head of a fleeing snake, representing Rebellion. [8]

Almost all of the dies for the coins of Queen Anne and King George I were engraved by Croker, and, until 1740, many for those of George II. He was also the creator of a large number of medals. [2] In 1729 the Master of the Mint admitted, with some apprehension, that Croker was then "the only man now living who has hitherto made Puncheons for the Head on the Coin", and recommended the appointment of an assistant, John Sigismund Tanner, then aged only 24. [4]

Croker's wife died in 1735, but he had good health and eyesight until his last two years. Although ailing, he still did some engraving work and liked to read in his spare time. He died on 21 March 1741 [2] and was succeeded by his assistant, Tanner. [4]

Medals

Croker's medal of 1732 showing the surviving children of King George II, Frederick, William, Anne, Amelia, Caroline, Mary, and Louisa Medal of George II and his Family MET DP-180-155.jpg
Croker's medal of 1732 showing the surviving children of King George II, Frederick, William, Anne, Amelia, Caroline, Mary, and Louisa

Croker's principal medals are as follows: [2]

Notes

  1. Joseph Hone, "Isaac Newton and the Medals for Queen Anne." Huntington Library Quarterly 79.1 (2016): 119-148. Online
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Warwick William Wroth, 'Croker, John (1670–1741)' in Dictionary of National Biography, vol. 13; Justin Croft Antiquarian Books: "Scotland: Croker, John" Archived 30 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine .
  3. Report of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, Parts 1–2, p. 68: "Petition of John Croker, Engraver, to the Rt. Hon. Sidney Lord Godolphin, Lord High Treasurer of England, for the office of Engraver of the Mint..."
  4. 1 2 3 Christopher Edgar Challis, A New History of the Royal Mint (1992), p. 409
  5. 1 2 The Numismatic Circular, volumes 30–32 (1922), p. 467
  6. Philip Henry Stanhope, Henry Reed, History of England from the Peace of Utrecht to the Peace of Versailles (1849), p. 206
  7. Medal (reverse), commemorating the Act of Grace of 1717 at web site of National Museums of Scotland, accessed 17 December 2013
  8. New Gallery, London, Exhibition of the Royal House of Stuart (London: Richard Clay and Sons, 1889), p. 207

Related Research Articles

The Five Guinea was a machine-struck gold coin produced from 1668–1753. Measuring 37 millimetres in diameter and weighing between 41 and 42 grams, it was the largest regularly produced gold coin in Britain. Although the coin is commonly known as the "Five guinea" piece, during the 17th and 18th centuries it was also known as a Five-pound piece, as the guinea was originally worth twenty shillings — until its value was fixed at twenty-one shillings by a Royal Proclamation in 1717 the value fluctuated rather in the way that bullion coins do today.

Two guineas (British coin)

The two guinea piece was a gold coin first minted in England in 1664 with a face value of forty shillings. The source of the gold used, also provided the coin its name - the "guinea", with the regular addition of an elephant or castle symbol on the earliest issues to denote bullion supplied by the Royal African Company. For most of its period of production, the coin weighed between 16.7 and 16.8 grams and was 31-32 millimetres in diameter, although the earliest coins of Charles II were about 0.1 grams lighter and 1 millimetre smaller.

Guinea (coin) British gold coin minted between 1663 and 1814

The guinea was a coin, minted in Great Britain between 1663 and 1814, that contained approximately one-quarter of an ounce of gold. The name came from the Guinea region in West Africa, from where much of the gold used to make the coins was sourced. It was the first English machine-struck gold coin, originally worth one pound, equal to twenty shillings, but rises in the price of gold relative to silver caused the value of the guinea to increase, at times to as high as thirty shillings. From 1717 to 1816, its value was officially fixed at twenty-one shillings.

Quarter guinea

The Quarter guinea was a British coin minted only in the years 1718 and 1762. As the name implies, it was valued at one-fourth of a guinea, which at that time was worth twenty-one shillings. The quarter guinea therefore was valued at five shillings and threepence in sterling specie.

The half guinea gold coin of the Kingdom of England and later of Great Britain was first produced in 1669, some years after the Guinea entered circulation. It was officially eliminated in the Great Recoinage of 1816, although, like the guinea, it was used in quoting prices until decimalisation.

Crown (British coin) British coin introduced in 1707

The British crown was a denomination of sterling coinage worth 1/4 of one pound, or 5 shillings, or 60 pence. The crown was first issued during the reign of Edward VI, as part of the coinage of the Kingdom of England.

Benedetto Pistrucci Italian engraver (1783–1855)

Benedetto Pistrucci was an Italian gem-engraver, medallist and coin engraver, probably best known for his Saint George and the Dragon design for the British sovereign coin. Pistrucci was commissioned by the British government to create the large Waterloo Medal, a project which took him thirty years to complete.

Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland

Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland, KG, PC, known as Lord Spencer from 1688 to 1702, was an English statesman and nobleman from the Spencer family. He served as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (1714–1717), Lord Privy Seal (1715–1716), Lord President of the Council (1718–1719) and First Lord of the Treasury (1718–1721).

John Murray, 1st Duke of Atholl

John Murray, 1st Duke of Atholl, KT, PC was a Scottish nobleman, politician, and soldier. He served in numerous positions during his life, and fought in the Glorious Revolution for William III and Mary II.

The British farthing was a British coin worth a quarter of an old penny. It ceased to be struck after 1956 and was demonetised from 1 January 1961.

George Byng, 1st Viscount Torrington 17th and 18th-century Royal Navy admiral

Admiral of the Fleet George Byng, 1st Viscount Torrington,, of Southill Park in Bedfordshire, was a Royal Navy officer and statesman. While still a lieutenant, he delivered a letter from various captains to Prince William of Orange, who had just landed at Torbay, assuring the Prince of the captains' support; the Prince gave Byng a response which ultimately led to the Royal Navy switching allegiance to the Prince and the Glorious Revolution of November 1688.

Lady of the Bedchamber Personal attendant on a British queen or princess

Lady of the Bedchamber is the title of a lady-in-waiting holding the official position of personal attendant on a British Queen regnant or Queen consort. The position is traditionally held by the wife of a peer. They are ranked between the Mistress of the Robes and the Women of the Bedchamber; unlike the latter they are not in regular attendance, however they are on duty for the more important public occasions. On overseas visits the Queen has tended to be accompanied by two Ladies-in-waiting, one of whom is usually a Lady of the Bedchamber.

George William de Saulles was a British medallist. He designed the obverse of coins of the United Kingdom and its colonies under Queen Victoria and King Edward VII.

Nicholas Briot was an innovative French coin engraver, medallist and mechanical engineer, who emigrated to England and became chief engraver to the Royal Mint in 1633 and is credited with the invention of the coining-press.

John Jennings (Royal Navy officer) British politician and naval officer. (1664–1743)

Sir John Jennings was a Royal Navy officer and Whig politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons between 1705 and 1734. He commanded HMS Kent at Cadiz and Vigo in 1702 during the War of the Spanish Succession. He went on to be Commander-in-Chief of the Jamaica Station, then Senior Naval Lord and finally Governor of Greenwich Hospital.

Robert Rollo, 4th Lord Rollo was a Scottish nobleman and Jacobite.

Thomas Rawlins (1620?–1670) was an English medallist and playwright.

John Sigismund Tanner was an engraver of the Kingdom of Great Britain, making dies for coins and medals.

Joseph Smith (academic)

Joseph Smith (1670–1756) was an English churchman and academic, Provost of The Queen's College, Oxford, from 1730.

John Mills (c.1670–1736) was a British stage actor. A long-standing part of the Drury Lane company from 1695 until his death, he appeared in both comedies and tragedies. His wife Margaret Mills was an actress, and his son William Mills also became an actor at Drury Lane.