Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/De Saulles, George William

DE SAULLES, GEORGE WILLIAM (1862–1903), medallist, was born on 4 Feb. 1862 at Villa Street, Aston Manor, Birmingham. His grandfather was a Frenchman, but his father, William Henry de Saulles, was settled in Birmingham as a glass merchant. At an early age he began his art training at the Birmingham School of Art, under the master, Mr. Taylor, and there he gained several prizes. He was apprenticed to Mr. Wilcox, die-sinker, in Birmingham, under whom he had varied practice, which included the execution of large labels for Manchester goods, at that time not inartistic in design. He came to London in 1884, and worked for Mr. John H. Pinches, the die-engraver, then in Oxenden Street, Haymarket. In 1888 he returned to Birmingham and worked for Joseph Moore [q. v.], the medallist.

During 1892 De Saulles was employed in London at the Royal Mint, on the death of Leonard Charles Wyon [q. v.], the chief engraver. In January 1893 he was gazetted 'engraver to the mint' (Ann. Report of Deputy-Master of the Mint for 1893, p. 30), and from that time till his death was actively engaged in the production of dies for English and colonial coins and for official medals. He was a skilful craftsman who worked with great rapidity, and he designed, modelled and engraved most of his dies. He was in some degree influenced by the French school of Roty and Chaplain, but in his official work there was no great scope for innovation and the play of fancy. He was a man of kindly disposition, entirely devoted to his craft. He was engaged in the preparation of the new seal of Edward VII when he died at Chiswick, after a few days' illness, on 21 July 1903. He was buried in Chiswick churchyard. He was married, but had no children.

His medallic work between 1894 and 1903 includes at least thirty medals and three plaques, among which may be mentioned the following medals: Sir George Buchanan (Royal Society Medal), 1894; Professor Stokes, 1899; Samuel Carnegie, 1901; coronation medal of Edward VII, 1902; Royal Society of British Architects, 1902; National Lifeboat Institution, 1903. Besides these he engraved and designed a number of official medals such as the South Africa medal, 1899-1902; the Ashanti medal, 1900; the Transport Service medal, 1902. A fuller list is given by J. H. Pinches in the 'Numismatic Chronicle,' 1903, pp. 312, 313, and by Hocking, 'Catal. of Coins in Royal Mint,' ii. p. 301. He executed the dies for the new issue of coins of Queen Victoria in 1893, designed by Thomas Brock. He designed the Britannia reverse of the English bronze coins of 1895, and the issue of English coins made in 1902 after the accession of Edward VII. His signature on the coins is 'De S.' He also designed and engraved the dies for various colonial coins, such as the British East Africa copper coins, 1897; the British Honduras coins 1894; the British dollar for India, 1895, and the Straits Settlements dollar, 1903. He made the last great seal of Queen Victoria (1899), and many designs for official seals for the colonies. At the time of his death he was preparing the models for the great seals of the United Kingdom and those of Ireland and Scotland, subsequently executed by F. Bowcher. He was an exhibitor at the Royal Academy, 1898–1903.

[Memoir in Numismatic Chronicle, 1903, pp. 311-313, by Mr. John H. Pinches and private information supplied by him; Hocking's Catal. of Coins in Royal Mint, 2 vols. 1906-10; Ferrer's Biog. Dict. of Medallists, 1904; Annual Reports of Deputy-Master of the Mint.]

W. W.