Lot #12. 1772 Captain James Cook Resolution and Adventure. Betts-552. Yellow Bronze. Plain Edge. Choice EF.
The June 2009 Baltimore Auction - 6/11/2009
View all lots in this auction
43 millimeters. Lovely, even, olive-brown patina with generous brassy highlights adhering to the devices. The surfaces are remarkably choice for an example of the type. In fact, where a small hole is typically present at 12 o'clock for a suspension mount, this piece has only a shallow cut. The fact that the usual suspension hole is not present may indicate that this medal was reserved for presentation purposes or saved as a souvenir. An apparent lamination flaw (as made) is present at the lower-reverse rim.
Few historic medals are as well traveled as the 1772 Resolution and Adventure Medals, which were struck for distribution during Captain James Cook's second voyage to the Pacific. Two thousand specimens in yellow bronze (undoubtedly including the present piece) were ordered by Joseph Banks, one of the scientists who accompanied Cook. They were struck by Boulton and Watt in March 1772 and paid for by the British government. Cook's journals record distribution of this medal to natives throughout the South Pacific and Alaska, where Cook arrived in 1778 on his third Pacific voyage. This North American distribution has led to the type's inclusion in John Adam's work on Indian Peace Medals of King George III, therein classified as an "opportunistic" medal. We recommend bidders to that fine reference for more historical background on this issue. Among Western issues relative to the South Pacific (and North Pacific for that matter), this impressive medal looms large historically and appeals to numismatists with a sense of adventure everywhere.