1772 Resolution and Adventure Medal. Betts-552. Platina or yellow bronze, 42.4 mm. AU-55 (PCGS).First reverse. Original edge mount intact, no hanger. A lovely example of the most famous medal associated with the era of exploration in the Pacific. The surfaces are mostly smooth and glossy, with scattered marks and light wear as might be seen on a distributed medal. Some traces of the original golden tones exist around the peripheries, but both sides have largely toned to pleasing deep olive. Some shallow scale or discoloration is noted in the upper right obverse field, but no pitting or other significant detriments are seen. The eye appeal is excellent.<p>Two thousand pieces in this composition were struck to the order of Sir Joseph Banks, the lead scientist on Captain James Cooks expeditions, to distribute to natives encountered by the ships <em>Resolution </em>and <em>Adventure </em>as they explored the Pacific. At least one was distributed in North America during Cooks stop in Nootka Sound, on the coast of Vancouver Island in March 1778. These medals were used in essentially the same manner as Indian Peace medals, often accompanied by ceremony, trade, and recognitions of authority. This brassy composition, called "platina" in the original documents, was the only one used for distribution to natives, though silver, copper, and two gold examples were also struck for the king and queen, VIPs, and others associated with the voyage.<p>No artifact better defines the point of native-Western contact in the Pacific than a Resolution and Adventure medal. In fact, a specimen of this medal was literally the very first Western object to ever be given to the natives of the Hawaiian Islands. On January 19, 1778, on Cooks third and final voyage, Cook anchored off Kauai and soon saw canoes approaching his ships. According to Cooks journals, "they had from three to six men each, and on their approach we were agreeably surprised to find that they spoke the language of Otaheite and of the other islands we had lately visited. It required but very little address to get them to come alongside; but no entreaties could prevail upon any of them to come on board." Instead, Cook offered trade: "I tied some brass medals to a rope and gave them to those in one of the canoes, who in return tied some small mackerel to the rope as an equivalent."<p>The Resolution and Adventure medal was the brass medal in question, the opening comment in a trade conversation between Anglos and natives that continued through the 20th century. The story of the modern history of Hawaii starts here. Australia honors this medal similarly. A 1777 sketch of an interaction on Tasmania, the first to show Anglos and aborigines together, even depicts this medal being awarded.<p>The concept of the Resolution and Adventure medal -- and the design, incorporating the two ships -- inspired the 1787 Washington and Columbia medal, which was also distributed in the Pacific Northwest. Not coincidentally, explorer John Ledyard of Connecticut was a part of both expeditions. The travels of Cook continued to inspire Western explorations in the Pacific for decades.<p>Distributed examples of this medal have rarely survived in such fine condition. Those found in the earth in Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere in the Pacific are usually heavily corroded, sometimes even to the point of being barely recognizable, and sometimes heavily worn as well. In August 2023, we sold a PCGS MS-62 specimen of this medal with no hanger for $16,800. Before that, it had been almost seven years since we had offered one at public auction. This example last appeared in the 2006 Ford sale and has been in the Syd Martin Collection for over a decade.<strong>To view supplemental information and all items from the Sydney F. Martin Collection, click<a href="https://stacksbowers.com/sydney-f-martin-collection/"target=’_blank’> here.</a></strong>.From the Sydney F. Martin Collection. Earlier ex Fred Baldwin, June 1967; our (Stacks) sale of the John J. Ford, Jr. Collection, Part XIV, May 2006, lot 457; John Kraljevich Americana, August 2011.