Matthew Boulton’s Naval Medals

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Stock No. 112930

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Matthew Boulton’s Naval Medals

Featuring the Otaheite (Resolution and Adventure), Admiral Rodney’s St Eustatia, Earl Howe’s Glorious First of June, Davison’s Nile, Ferdinand IV, Earl St Vincent’s and Boulton’s Trafalgar Medals. 

 by Sim Comfort

Within the British series of naval medals, something special happened when Matthew Boulton decided to become a medallist. His first medal was the Otaheite (Resolution andAdventure) medal conceived by Sir Joseph Banks, which was to be presented to peoples yet discovered on Captain Cook’s second and third voyages. Here, the full background regarding the creation of the medal and the trials and tribulations experienced with Boulton’s first medal are explored. Eight examples are discussed, one of which is the gold medal presented by Banks to the King, along with several medals that were distributed by Captain Cook.

Later, Boulton had mastered the power of steam in both coining and producing medals with remarkable results. Working with the very talented die maker and designer of medals, Conrad Heinrich Küchler, new levels of excellence were achieved. Five medals owe much to Küchler: Earl Howe’s, the Davison Nile, Ferdinand IV, Earl St Vincent’s and lastly the Boulton Trafalgar medal, possibly the finest British naval medal ever struck.

Four of the medals concern Admiral Lord Nelson with his stunning victories at the Nile and Trafalgar, his involvement at Naples with Ferdinand IV and the medal of his great mentor, Earl St Vincent. Within this work, the author follows the design of each medal along with much additional information. The engraving, gilding and casing of the Nile and Trafalgar medals are discussed. Martyn Downer provides a life of Alexander Davison and his use of Masonic icons for his Nile medal. David Vice provides the best article ever written regarding the Boulton Trafalgar medal. Also a new discovery concerning Earl Howe’s First of June medal is detailed and that Rodney’s medal (BHM 230) was produced by Boulton.

The catalogue provides a comprehensive collection of seven St Vincent, 34 Davison Nile and 33 Boulton Trafalgar medals that are named or provenanced. Within the catalogue, the stories of these named men, and a few women who are believed to have been on board as well, are told along with what their ships went through at both the Nile and Trafalgar. Included for the Nile are the accounts by the American Captain Ralph Miller who commanded the Theseus and the French artist and author Vivant Denon, who witnessed the battle. Personal sea stories are based on research at the National Archives and other contemporary material. A comprehensive index of ships and men is also included.

Written by a collector for other collectors and museum curators, this work will no doubt prove a valuable reference for all interested parties. It is with the support of Britain’s major museums that this publication has been made possible.

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