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The silver James Cook medal produced by the Royal Society.
Photo: George Serras.
This medal was struck by the Royal Society of London in 1784 to commemorate its famous member Captain James Cook. It is the only time in the society's 350-year history that a member has been honoured in this way.
The influential scientific body had strongly supported Cook's voyages. In 1776 Cook was elected a fellow of the society and awarded its prestigious Copley medal for his work on the prevention of scurvy.
When news of Cook's death reached England in 1780, the society's council expressed its 'zeal for perpetuating the memory of so valuable and eminent a man'. The medal was designed by Lewis Pingo, chief engraver of the London Mint. Members could subscribe for gold, silver or bronze versions.
The Latin inscriptions can be translated as 'James Cook the most intrepid investigator of the seas' and 'Our men have left nothing unattempted'.
Right: This is the letter recommending that Captain James Cook be accepted as a member of the Royal Society. Courtesy: The Royal Society.