Portrait medallion of William Henry West Betty
"THE YOUNG ROSCIUS." (obv. at top); "T. WEBB. F" (obv. b.r.); "NOT YET MATURE YET MATCHLESS. MDCCCIV" (round verso); "BORN SEPT 13TH 1791." (on ribbon on verso)
Presented to the Garrick Club by Willis Hall, 2003
Another medal is known that was struck by J Westwood in 1804, with the inscription "British tragedian with feeling and propriety he astonishes the judicious observers of human nature"
Laurence Brown, "A catalogue of British historical medals 1760-1960. Vol.1. The accession of George III to the death of William IV." London 1980, p137
This is an example of some of the numerous items of merchandising produced during the craze for the young actor William Henry West Betty, or "Master Betty", that took off after his first appearance on a London stage as Achmet in "Barbarossa" on December 1st 1804 at Covent Garden (see G0066), and which became widely known as "Bettymania"! As well as medals and enamelled boxes, a tremendous number of prints were published during his incredibly successful 1804-05 season. Alongside this his supposed "Memoirs" became a publishing phenomenon, being published in various versions and editions. However his success did not really last beyond that season, and with the proceeds of his fame soon eaten away at by his alcoholic father, the image of the child star became popular with caricaturists, before eventually fading back into obscurity.