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'In Memory of his Obsequies'

Approximately 520 of these medals were given to friends, colleagues and employees

who attended Matthew Boulton's funeral on 24th August 1809

2009 marked the 200th anniversary of the death of Matthew Boulton, and throughout that year various institutions arranged programmes, seminars, exhibitions, and commemorations of Matthew Boulton, his life and works.


sohomint.info featured some of these - sometimes with links to websites, sometimes with written descriptions, but, whatever the medium, the aim was the same - to celebrate the achievements of one of the great men of the Industrial Revolution.


Sue Tungate has compiled a review of some of the interesting events held to commemorate the Bicentennial, which appears below.

Matthew Boulton (1728-1809) was a key figure during the period known as the Industrial Revolution when so much was happening; politically, industrially, socially and artistically. An entrepreneur, manufacturer, engineer and scientist, with numerous contacts and interests, both in Britain and overseas, Boulton is often referred to as the ‘Father of Birmingham’ and, apart from his manufacturing businesses at Soho in Handsworth, was involved in many other activities, including the development of the first steam-powered coining press in the world.


2009 was the year when Matthew Boulton’s story was justly celebrated. A vast number of his personal papers are preserved in Birmingham Archives and Heritage at the Central Library, Birmingham. From these hundreds of letters, notebooks and diagrams one can learn about a Birmingham man, who was at ease with everyone from King George III to the humblest of his workers.


The 2009 celebrations were a collaborative partnership involving Birmingham City Council through the Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery and Birmingham City Archives, the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, the University of Birmingham, the University of Central England, and The Birmingham Assay Office.

For more information, go to the commemorative website.

Bicentennial Celebrations: see, and be seen!
The Art of
Making Money

A special Exhibition: ‘The Art of Making Money’ featuring Matthew Boulton’s Mint, was held at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham University from 8th May 2009 to 15th May 2010.


Why not visit our dedicated web page for a review?

The Art of Making Money
Matthew Boulton: Selling What All The World Desires

The centrepiece of the Bicentenary celebrations was a major exhibition focusing on Matthew Boulton’s life and times at Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery, Gas Hall Exhibition Gallery from 30th May to 27th September 2009 This exhibition ‘Matthew Boulton – Selling What All The World Desires’ included important material from the collections held at Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery and at Birmingham Archive and Heritage, Central Library. It also featured items from Birmingham Assay Office and from private collections as well as significant loans from other national museums.

The Catalogue contains pictures and descriptions of nearly every item

A Contemporary Silver Commission

At the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, a commemorative piece of contemporary silver was shown. This was created by silversmith Shona Marsh and commissioned by the Birmingham Assay Office. Matthew Boulton was instrumental in setting up the Birmingham Assay Office in 1773 and it is still functioning as the largest Assay Office in the world. Founded by Act of Parliament, its main function is to test and hallmark precious metal items, and in 2005, 12 million articles were hallmarked in Birmingham.

For more information visit the Assay Office website.

Soho House: Where Great Minds Met

At Soho House, the former home of Matthew Boulton from 1766-1809, a display, Soho House - Where Great Minds Met, tells the story of his friendship with other members of the Lunar Society. Here, Boulton met with some of the most important scientists, engineers and thinkers of his time. Soho House has been carefully restored to its 18th century appearance and contains some of Boulton's own furniture. Also shown are some of the products of Boulton's Soho Manufactory; where buttons and buckles, clocks and vases, and silver and Sheffield plate tableware were made. This is also where he developed the steam engine in partnership with James Watt. For more information visit the Soho House website.

Addresses & Opening Times

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, (Chamberlain Square, Birmingham B3 3DH)

Telephone: 0121 303 2834

Admission: FREE

Opening Times:

Monday - Thursday 10.00am - 5.00pm

Friday 10.30am - 5.00pm

Sat 10.00am - 5.00pm

Sunday 12.30pm - 5.00pm



Soho House (Soho Avenue (off Soho Road) Handsworth, Birmingham¸ B18 5LB)

Telephone: 0121 554 9122

Admission: FREE

Open from Saturday 4 April to Sunday 2 November, Tuesday to Sunday 12 noon - 4.00pm (closed Mondays except Bank Holidays)



Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, (75-79 Vyse Street, Birmingham B18 6HA)

Telephone: 0121 554 3598

Admission: FREE

Winter season:

Open November to Easter - Tuesday to Saturday 10.30am - 4.00pm

Closed on Sundays and Mondays except Bank Holiday Mondays.

Opening Times

Summer season:

Open from Easter to October - Tuesday to Saturday 10.30am - 4.00pm

Closed on Sundays and Mondays except Bank Holiday Mondays



There is an orange dot here! Click to see Boulton, Watt, and Murdoch, in a much larger version.

Orange Dot Time!
The Art of Making Money The Boulton Conference
From this page..
To see what else is
available about the
Bicentennial, choose below:
Other Commemmorations

An academic conference was held jointly at the University of Birmingham and the University of Central England from 3rd to 5th July 2009, attended by around a hundred people representing all interests, and from countries as distant as France and Sweden, the United States and Australia. In conjunction with the conference, a concert of 18th century music was held on 4th July at Birmingham Cathedral, featuring readings from the Boulton papers, and performances of some of his favourite music.

An account of the conference can be found by clicking here. The proceedings are due for publication in book form.


Later in the year there were formal commemoration ceremonies including wreath- laying at Handsworth Church, and Boulton’s statue on Broad Street, on 17th August, and Boulton-linked events in the Heritage and Artsfest weekend in September 2009, and Birmingham History Day in November 2009.

The bicentenary year concluded with a special Boulton Christmas event at Soho House on 13th December 2009.

The Boulton Conference

British commemorative postage stamp issued on 10th March 2009. Others in the set featured Watt, and Wedgwood

Stamping his
A New Design for the Bank of England £50 Note

Not strictly a commemorative item, the Bank of England chose the opening of the 'Matthew Boulton - Selling What All The World Desires' exhibition in Birmingham to launch the concept designs for their new £50 note, issued in 2011. The note features Matthew Boulton and James Watt, and shows the facade of Soho Manufactory behind a sketch of James Watt's steam Whitbread Engine, now in the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. Click HERE to read the launching of the note by the Governor of the Bank.

BoE £50.pdf
The Whitbread

James Watt’s ‘Whitbread’ Engine was chosen to grace the Bank of England’s new £50 note. The engine, which still works, is a much-loved exhibit at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. Click here for more information

The World Desires