This rare medal was engraved to commemorate the hanging in Sarum (Salisbury) of John Curtis for the robbery and brutal murder of a Jewish pedlar, Wolf Myers.
On March 14, 1768 The Salisbury Journal noted that Curtis, a 27-year-old sailor who protested his innocence to the last, had been found guilty and “will be executed this morning and afterwards hung in irons, on a gibbet which is erected for that purpose, near the spot where he committed the murder, which is on the road-side, about a quarter of a mile on this side Coombe turn-pike gate”.
These gruesome details are featured to the medallion that is estimated at £400-600 at David Lay’s in Penzance on September 19-20.
This Resolution and Adventure medal is one of 2000 that were commissioned by the British Admiralty ahead of James Cook’s Second Voyage. They were to be used as gifts or bartering tools when encountering indigenous people with others given as favours to sailors.
The medals were made from platina, an alloy of brass, copper, lead, tin and antimony, and have a bust of George III on the obverse and a depiction of the Resolution and Adventure on the reverse. Typically, the side featuring the king is often better preserved, as the medals were worn as pendants with the monarch facing outwards, causing rubbing to the reverse.
The early provenance of this medal, for sale at Tennants’ Militaria and Ethnographic sale in Leyburn on September 25, has been lost but it was given to the vendor by his grandmother when he was young. Estimate £800-1200.