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Letter NEWHM:1996.H67.22

John Hancock to Prince Albert (7 September 1852)

Draft letter to Prince Albert petitioning the Prince to subscribe to his forthcoming publication A Fasciculus of Eight Drawings on Stone of Groups of Birds etc.




Newcastle on Tyne

4 St. Mary’s Terrace

7th. Sep. 1852

To His Royal Highness Prince Albert1,

Being about to publish Lithographic drawings from my birds &c. 2 exhibited in Transept of the Great Exhibition, and for which I received a prize medal, I have [p.2] taken the liberty of inclosing a prospectus to Your Royal Highness, and at the same time beg that I may be permitted the Honour of enrolling your Royal Highness’ name on the list of subscribers.

I have the Honour to be Sir | Your Royal Highness’ |most Obt. & very Humble Svt. | John Hancock [signature]



Prince Albert


7th. Sep. 1852





1.  Prince Albert (1819 – 1861), The Prince Consort, husband of Queen Victoria of Great Britain had been greatly involved with the organisation of the Great Exhibition of 1851.

The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations was held in Hyde Park, London in a specially designed and built glass building known as the Crystal Palace.  The Queen opened the exhibition on 1 May 1851 and it proved an enormous success closing on the 15 October 1851.

John Hancock exhibited his professional taxidermy skills at the Great Exhibition by taking a stand in the north transept of the Crystal Palace.

In the ‘Official Descriptive and Illustrated Catalogue’ Vol. 2 produced by Robert Ellis, John Hancock’s details are found under Section 3 in Class 29  “Miscellaneous Manufactures and small wares” number 320.

“320. Hancock, J. A. – Producer. A collection of stuffed birds and animals. (In North Transept) gallery.”


Hancock proudly notes, in the letter, that he had received a ‘prize medal’ for his stand at the exhibition. There were a number of medals produced including a bronze Exhibitors medal, a ‘Prize Medal’ and a rarer Council Medal. Apparently 2,918 Prize Medals were awarded for a “certain standard of excellence in production or workmanship.” Sadly, it is not known if Hancock’s medal, which would have been inscribed with his name around the edge, still exists.



For more information on the Great Exhibition Medals please click here

For more information on the taxidermy exhibited at the Crystal Palace click here

2.  A Fasciculus of Eight Drawings on Stone of Groups of Birds, &c., By John Hancock. The whole being representations of Specimens Stuffed and Contributed by the Author to the Great Industrial Exhibition of 1851. Hullmandel & Walton, Lithog: London. Newcastle upon Tyne; Published by the Author, 1853.

This large work (555 x 375mm) contains a portfolio of eight black and white lithographs, by Hancock, depicting the large taxidermy works he had displayed at the Great Exhibition.

The plates include the ‘Hooded Falcon’, ‘Struggle with the Quarry’, ‘The Gorged Falcon’, ‘The Dead Gull’, ‘Leopard Cub Reposing’,  ‘Black Game and Ptarmigan’ and two versions of  ‘The Laemmer-Geyer of the Alps.’

Unfortunately, Prince Albert declined to subscribe to Hancock’s book in a short letter held in the John Hancock Correspondence Archive (Letter NEWHM:1996.H23).