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Royal Society Cook commemorative medal

Date: 1784
Dimensions:
2 x 45 mm, 0.1 lb. (450 13/16 in., 0.04 kg)
Medium: Bronze
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Coins and medals
Object Name: Medal
Object No: 00039565

User Terms

    Description
    This medal commemorating Captain James Cook was struck by the Royal Society. On the obverse is a bust of Cook wearing his tie-wig and captain's uniform. The reverse shows the draped female figure of Fortune representing navigation and leaning against an ornamented pillar with a sceptre in her left hand and her right places a rudder upon a globe. It was commissioned by the Royal Society of which Cook was a Fellow. Captain Cook's voyages of exploration and premature death instigated a number of commemorative mementoes including statues, portraits and medals. This is one of an estimated 574 bronze medals struck.
    SignificanceThis commemorative bronze medal is representative of the respect felt towards Captain James Cook by the Royal Society. It is one of the most recognised images of Cook and has been used as the basis for a number of contemporary replica medals celebrating the explorer.
    HistoryFollowing the death of Captain James Cook at Tahiti in 1779 the Royal Society under the Presidency of Cook's ENDEAVOUR companion Sir Joseph Banks resolved to strike a commemorative medal in Cook's honour. Banks was instrumental in the commissioning and production of the medal. Not having sufficient funding themselves the Royal Society sought the finances from public subscriptions.

    British engraver Lewis Pingo was granted the commission to design the work after competing with a number of other entrants. He received a payment of £84 for the two dies he created. The medal celebrated Cook's achievements in navigation and journeys through the depiction of the female figure Fortune holding a rudder over the globe.

    Only 20 medals were struck in gold, around 320 in silver and 574 in bronze. They were then sold to the subscribers of the Royal Society and a small number were also given to a few select prominent people. Elizabeth Cook was one of those gifted with a limited edition gold medal in honour of her late husband.

    The medal's obverse is inscribed with:
    IAC COOK OCEANI INVESTIGATOR ACERRIMUS (the most intrepid investigator of the seas)

    The reverse:
    NIL INTENTATUM NOSTRI LIQUERE (our men have left nothing unattempted)
    Related People
    Engraver: Lewis Pingo

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