Leonard Wyon was the son of William Wyon, Chief Engraver to the Royal Mint, and a member of one of the most celebrated families of British medal engravers. Leonard succeeded his father on his death in 1851, becoming Chief Modeller and Engraver. In addition to his work with British coinage, Leonard was also concerned with foreign coinage, and the design of many public, private and military medals.
Many sitters of the present drawings were either fellow employees at the Royal Mint and Bank of England, close friends, or members of the Wyon family (including Wyon's wife May, his nephews Francis and Louis Horne, his brother Frederic, and his sister Caroline). Those portrayed from the artist's working life include James Dodsley Cuff and William Debonaire Haggard who acted as Principals of the Bullion Office, at the Bank of England, John Pendlebury who worked as a die turner in the 1840s, George Forbes, who was Queen's Clerk and Edward Enfield who was a Moneyer of the Mint for twenty years, until 1851 when he retired, during the reorganisation of the Mint.
Of particular note to numismatists is a portrait of Sir Thomas Gresham, William Wyon, Leonard's father, executed a medal of Sir Thomas Gresham, which was struck in October of 1844, so it is possible that the young Wyon, aged 15, copied his father's preparatory sketches for the medal. Similarly, there is a portrait of Oliver Cromwell, taken from earlier medals by Ferdinand de St Urbain or Jean Dassier. Wyon made a medal commemorating the visit to the Mint by Grand Duke Constantine in 1847, a sketch of whom is found in the present collection.
We are grateful to Mr Phillip Attwood and Mr Graham Dyer for their help in preparing this catalogue entry.