Historical and Commemorative Medals
Collection of Benjamin Weiss


DASSIER, Jean: England, ca.1733, Bronze, 43 mm
Obv: Bust of Shakespeare (Facing)     GUILIELMUS SHAKESPEARE.
Rev: Mountainscape with meandering river     WILD ABOVE RULE OR ART
Exergue:  NAT.1564.
From Jean Dassier's Series, The British Worthies.
Ref: Med. Ill. i, 208/42; Forrer I, p.516 (Illustrated); Eisler I,  283/1; Thompson 39/01;  Weiss BW372

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was the most celebrated poet and playwright of his time. His plays became known throughout the world and praised for their insight and use of the English language. Shakespeare was baptized at Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. His father, John Shakespeare, was a burgess of the borough, who in 1565 was chosen an alderman and in 1568 bailiff. William married Anne Hathaway of Stratford at the age of 18. It is not clear how his career in the theater began, but from about 1594 onward he was an important member of the Lord Chamberlain's company of players (called the King's Men after the accession of James I in 1603). They had the best actor, Richard Burbage; they had the best theater, the Globe; and they had the best dramatist, Shakespeare. He died in 1616 at Stratford-upon-Avon.
The portrait on Dassier's medal is taken from the Chandos picture, now in the National Gallery. The reverse is intended to characterize the genius and structure of the poet's works, coinciding with Johnson's opinion, 'The composition of Shakespeare is a forest in which oaks extend their branches, pines tower in the air, interspersed sometimes with weeds and brambles, and sometimes giving shelter to myrtles and roses, filling the eye with awful pomp and gratifying the mind with endless variety'. (from Thompson, p.39).

LINK to biography and works of William Shakespeare (from online-literature.com)