Abolition Seal

This abolition seal was adopted by the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade on 16 October 1787. The seal depicts the symbol of the kneeling slave in chains with the motto ‘Am I Not a Man and a Brother’. It is similar to the jasper medallion produced in 1786 by Josiah Wedgwood, the renowned potter of Stoke-on-Trent. Both the image and motto became iconic representations of the British anti-slavery campaign. As the movement gained popular support, the cameo was widely used for decorating men’s snuff boxes and ladies bracelets and hair pins, as well as other anti-slavery household ceramics including milk jugs, sugar bowls and tobacco boxes. By using this image, the British public could demonstrate their support.

The emblem showing an enslaved African on his knees actively encouraged the idea that it was only through European emanicipators that the enslaved people could be freed. The abolition movement comprised of many people including enslaved Africans who resisted slavery through many forms.

© Hull Museums

Accession reference: Hull Museums, KINCM:2006.6039