The Australian Numismatic Society


Cook's Resolution and Adventure Medals, 1772  by  Phil Benjamin.

The Resolution and Adventure medals were produced by Matthew Boulton at the instigation of Sir Joseph Banks for Cook’s second voyage. There were three types:- copper or platina for Captain Cook to give away to local peoples  on the voyage  (mintage 2,000 of Die 1),  silver (mintage 142, Die 11) for Fellows of the Royal Society and other  worthy citizens and officials who wished to buy one, and gold (mintage 2, Die 11) for Banks, and one for King George 111.

These medals were made at a time before duplicating machines were invented. The base metal copies were the first made but a crack in the die seen in the exergue from the edge to extend up through the RC of March, and worsening as production proceeded, was considered good enough for the natives but not good enough for the silver and gold varieties and so another die had to be made for the precious metal medals but many of these also show a die crack, not mentioned by Boulton in correspondence.

This was Mathew Boulton’s first medal and he appears to have had it struck in the up/down rotation called ‘coin struck’ although there are medals in the medal struck (up/up) style which I believe are the ‘upset’ versions mentioned in L. Richard Smith’s pamphlet. Four out of five die 1 medals I have seen are coin struck. This striking was corrected with the second die as the precious metal medals were struck in the “medal struck” (up/up) mode. This is probably understandable as Boulton had only made coins up until then as the R&A medal is thought to be the Soho Mint,s first medal. There are also some copper medals struck with the second die.

Smith also mentions a silver die 1 medal, which was in the Chapman collection and I now have, which he thinks was probably struck later from a reconditioned die as it was struck without a collar and only had a small die 1 imperfection but a filed edge suggesting that it was struck without a collar. I believe that Smith hoped this was the case which may have meant that the dies were not destroyed. I speculate that it was possibly made with the reconditioned die 1 after the badly cracked die was repaired. The original die was thought to have the collar die attached to the reverse die and this would have been removed during the repair process. It makes economic sense to do a trial silver strike with a repaired die to see if the striking was acceptable before having another die constructed; especially with the time restraints imposed by a proposed sailing date and in the days before duplicating machines. I believe that it was this medal that convinced Boulton that he required a new die to be made; and especially when his new die (die 11) had a small crack which he accepted and did not comment on. I think that it was struck and the edge filed before Boulton was shown it for his decision about the making of a new die.

The obverse of all the medals has an image of King George 111 and the reverse has images of the two ships and, in exergue, has the words “Sailed from England March MDCCCLXXII”,   whereas the sailing was delayed until June. Because the new die was hand crafted there are a number of differences between the two types, some of these are listed and shown below.

Copper & Platina                                   Silver

 DIE 1: Coin struck – up/down                               Die 2: medal struck – up/up
Left Ship:-

A. Anchor hanging down                                       Anchor up

Pennant curved  over foremast                         Pennant straight

Cross on flag                                                     No cross

Flag at sail                                                         Flag away from sail

Pennant on 3rd mast fold                                   Pennant no fold

Windows great cabin poor                                Windows well marked

Tip at I                                                              Mast tip position between I & O


Right Ship:-

Stern flag pointed                                              Stern flag square

Foremast pennant to mast3                               Pennant above mast 3

Flag staff intact                                                  Flag staff interrupted

Waves :      Less defined                                        More defined

Die Flaw:
    Low Edge to RC in MARCH             Upper edge to EN in ADVENTURE

Display Die 1 - Silver and Platina                     Die 11- Silver and Copper

Die 1                                                                      Die 11

Platina Medal with gross die crack                  Silver Medal,

31.9 gm, 42.5 mm                                               45.2 gm, 44 mm

Silver Die 1                                                          Copper Die 11

Minimal die crack                                               EN Flaw

Filed edge                                                            rounded edge

45.8 gm, 43.6 mm                                              38.3 gm, 43.6 mm                             


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29th May 2012