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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Trenham Reeks?1   10 March [1858]2

Down Bromley Kent

March 10th.—

My dear Sir

I spoke to you when in London about some 30 slabs of slate with figures in wax, executed long ago for Mr. Wedgwood.—3 Might I trespass on your kindness to look at them, or show them to any judge, to see if they are valuable.— This will, I hope, not cause you much trouble, as you need not write or return them, for I shall be in London either this or next month.—

Several are more injured even than these; but most are less so. The majority are of the dark red colour. Some are on thicker slabs.— Some few are in white wax. The slate of some is broken right through. An engraver told me that they were done by hand. And a knowing clergyman said he believed they were executed in latter half of last century by a celebrated artist, whose name I have forgotten.—

I have picked out about 3 average specimens.— Some are prettier.—

Will you kindly forgive my begging this favour of you & believe me My dear Sir, with thanks for your assistance about the Barberini Vase.4 | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin

They will be delivered by Carrier. (paid) on Thursday (tomorrow)


Reeks, curator and librarian of the Museum of Practical Geology, had ‘a great knowledge of pottery’ (Nature 20 (1879):38). The reliefs mentioned in the letter were sold later in the year (see letter to Trenham Reeks?, 13 August [1858]).
Dated from an entry in CD’s Account book (Down House MS) that records that the Barberini vase mentioned in the letter was sold for £75 on 3 April 1858.
The wax bas-reliefs were probably some of those designed by John Flaxman for Josiah Wedgwood I. They were probably the ‘wax reliefs’ that CD acquired in 1844 (see Correspondence vol. 3, letter to Susan Darwin, [27 November 1844?]). Flaxman had worked for the Wedgwood company from 1775 to 1787 and provided wax or plaster models of his work from which Wedgwood craftsmen made casts. The reliefs were used to decorate the company’s famous jasperware. A list of Flaxman’s work for Wedgwood is given in Constable 1927.


Constable, William George. 1927. John Flaxman, 1755–1826. London: University of London Press.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.


Asks whether correspondent can assist in determining value of slate slabs with relief figures executed for Josiah Wedgwood [I].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Trenham Reeks
Sent from
Source of text
British Geological Survey Archives (GSM 1/501)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2236,” accessed on 25 July 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7