In 1808 the Warsaw Society of Friends of Science decided to publish a work of John Baptist Albertrandi “Historia polska medalami zaświadczona i objaśniona” (Polish History evidenced with medals and explained). After the fall of the November Uprising Albertrandi’s manuscript and dies with graphic images of medals were confiscated together with the entire Society’s property and exported to Russia. This was the concern of two author’s articles (see footnote 5). The following text, being their extension, discusses letters of Julian U. Niemcewicz, the President of the Society of Friends of Science, to Henryk Lubomirski, and as well the person and activity of Józef Węcki, the publisher of the planned numismatic study.
The article focuses on three albums containing engravings of Polish medals which were prepared as illustrations to a work entitled The History of Poland, Recorded and Expounded with Medals, by Jan Chrzciciel Albertrandi, the president of the Warsaw Society of Friends of Learning. Four hundred and thirty-four copperplates were prepared for the engravings between 1822 and 1828. Following the failure of the November Uprising of 1830–1831, they were seized by the Russians and given to the Russian Imperial Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg, where they remain to this day. Before they were taken, around thirty copies of the set were printed. The article presents the three albums preserved in the Krakow collection. They are analysed from several standpoints: their history, their provenance, antiquarian importance, and artistic value.
The article is the first attempt to analyze comprehensively Polish numismatic illustration in the 19th century created in noble graphic techniques: woodcut, copperplate, etching and steelwork. The authors focused on discussing drawings from the work of J. Ch. Albertandi “History of Polish medals attested and explained” that never appeared in print and the works of K. W. Kielisiński, A. Oleszczynski and J. Lelewel. They drew attention to the value of the iconographic material as the transmission of scientific information complementary to the text, the graphic engraving as an independent, sometimes outstanding work of art and the complexity of motives and inspirations that guided artists in the subject of Polish coins and medals.