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Printed ceramics, ca. 1830-50
Staffordshire, England
Glazed porcelain
Lent by Rex Stark

Josiah Wedgwood, England’s leading pottery manufacturer in the second half of the eighteenth century, was also a member of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. Wedgwood commissioned one of his designers, William Hackwood, to create a wax letter seal in 1787 for use by the Society. The central image was that of a kneeling slave bound in chains, encircled by the poignant question "Am I Not a Man and a Brother?" Members were so moved by the design that it was adopted as the permanent seal of the organization. The symbol, and a subsequent version featuring a female slave, captured the public’s imagination and were repeated on all manner of artifacts, from newspapers and leaflets to teapots and candlesticks.