It is thought to have been commissioned by committee member Josiah Wedgwood, modelled by the sculptor Henry Webber and prepared for production in black on white jasperware by William Hackwood.
The motif ultimately became the emblem for the British anti-slavery movement and many versions of the kneeling slave found their way onto objects made in ceramic, metal, glass and fabric.
Some pre-date the 1807 Abolition of the Slave Trade Act that made it illegal to engage in the slave ‘trade’ throughout the British colonies, but as the practice of slavery itself continued in the West Indies until 1833, it was necessary to keep the campaign alive well into the 19th century.
Anti-slavery objects are enjoying a particular strong ‘moment’ in the marketplace as museums and other institutions seek to acquire items relating to the slave trade and the experience of enslaved African Americans in particular.
Bought by US museum
This engraved English glass rummer c.1800, offered as part of the sale of Ceramics and Glass at Woolley & Wallis (25% buyer’s premium) in Salisbury on April 26, is out of the ordinary.
Most survivors are ceramics. It is engraved to one side with Am I Not a Man and Brother logo and to the reverse with a verse Health to the Sick, Honour to the Brave, Success to the Lover and Freedom to the Slave. It was modestly estimated at £150-250 but was avidly competed to £5000 – the buyer an American museum.
Also pictured here is a privateer wine glass, c.1758, with a bucket bowl engraved with a three-masted ship at sail and the inscription Success to the Betsy Privateer. Granted letters of marque on April 26, 1758, the Betsy was a Liverpool ship under the command of William Watt.
Estimated at £1000-2000, the glass sold for £12,000.