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Plaque showing a portrait of Joseph Priestley, England, 1860-1868

Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) is best known as the discoverer of oxygen. He, however, called the gas ‘dephlogisticated air’, a name based on chemical theories of the time. The modern understanding of its role in burning was worked out by Priestley’s contemporary, Antoine Lavoisier (1743-94). This plaque is made from jasperware, a fine grained stoneware developed by Wedgwood in 1775. It shows a cameo style profile of Priestley.

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Glossary: plaque

An ornamental tablet of metal, porcelain etc that depicts a person, scene or inscription. Often fixed to a building in commemoration of a person or notable historical occurence.