Gladstone for the million

December 25 2009

I have a glass plate with that slogan moulded into it: an old piece of Gladstone merchandising. It bears out the point made in this BBC audio slideshow, which they should have held for December 29, his 200th birthday.

The unnamed house is Hawarden Castle in Flintshire. Present occupant Sir William Gladstone, great-grandson. St Deiniol’s Library is nearby.

Having just googled this plate, it seems that it was made in 1869 to celebrate Gladstone’s election victory in the previous year, when he became prime minister for the first time.

This piece offers two theories on the meaning of “for the million”. The Irish one less convincing than the other. I had always assumed that it was just an old-fashioned collective noun.

Image from web.

8 Responses to “Gladstone for the million”

  1. Paul Says:

    I’d always assumed it was from the OED’s definition 2b of “the million” as “the bulk of the population; the multitude, the masses”.

  2. mjk1093 Says:

    It is an old collective noun. My local library has a faded book called “Relativity for the Million,” which attempts to explain Einstein’s theory to the “common man.”

  3. Arky Says:

    I have one of these too, though it’s a little chipped … how much are they worth? It would take a lot for me to be parted with it though.


  4. Peter Keen Says:

    Actually what it is, is a piece of commemorative glass produced to celebrate the extension of the political franchise to 1.2 million of the population, by Gladstone who had just become Prime Minister

  5. davidderrick Says:

    But the Reform Act had been passed by the Conservatives. You mean that the plate commemorated Gladstone’s own commitment to the new voters when he took over.

  6. […] the artefacts that touch the heart of Tony Benn: Keir Hardie’s chair, busts of Marx and Lenin, decorative plates commemorating Gladstone, folksy miners’ lamps galore, and laughing photographs of Tony and […]

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