Jacobite Printing Plate and Print
West Highland Museum
This fascinating object gives us an insight into a history that never happened.
When Prince Charles Edward Stuart – better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie – arrived in the Outer Hebrides in the summer of 1745, he was accompanied by only his ‘Seven Men of Moidart’ and just four thousand gold coins, hardly the war chest needed to support an army. The promised ten thousand French troops also never arrived.
However, on arrival Charles commissioned this copper printing plate. Designed and etched by the artist Robert Strange, the plate is completely unique and was intended to be used to print bank notes during the 1745 Rising, often called the ‘45.
The plate was never used. When the Jacobite army were defeated at the Battle of Culloden, survivors fled and the plate was abandoned at Loch Laggan. It was found in the nineteenth century.
In 1928, artist Sir David Young Cameron, a leading figure in the Etching Revival, made a first print from it; this act was repeated in 2021 by the West Highland Museum.