As Tim Wilkes, Specialist in the Coin department, explains: “Admiral Edward Vernon was a British naval commander during the War of Jenkins’ Ear between England and Spain. In 1739 he captured the Spanish port of Portobello (now in Panama) with only six ships. This feat made him a popular hero in England and the American colonies, and many medals were struck to commemorate it; in fact more different medals were struck of him than of any other 18th century Englishman. The majority of the medals commemorate Portobello, while others mark later actions at Fort Chagre and Cartagena; the latter was portrayed on the medals as an English victory despite the fact that in reality the opposite was true. Portobello and Vernon became widely used for place names - for example Portobello Road in London and George Washington’s estate Mount Vernon in Virginia. What makes this particular medal unique is the cannon and arms in front of Vernon on the obverse.”
The extremely fine and rare medal in the auction depicts the Capture of Portobello and dates from 1739. It is made of a pinchbeck metal (a form of brass, an alloy of copper and zinc, mixed in proportions so that it closely resembles gold in appearance) and it is unsigned. It depicts the motto brave Vernon made us free and also features a half-length figure of Vernon holding a baton with a cannon and arms in front of him, while on the reverse is shows three
ships entering Portobello harbour, three waiting outside. The medal is estimated at £600-£800 (see illustration at the start of the release).
This isn’t the only example of a Vernon medal in the sale. An extremely fine copper version depicting the Capture of Fort Chagre, dating from 1740, is expected to fetch £400-500. It shows a three-quarter length figure of Vernon facing to the left, and Fort Chagre and ship to right, while on the reverse are six ships outside Portobello harbour.
Also included an unsigned and rare Vernon pinchbeck medal of the Battle of Cartagena, dating from 1741, showing Vernon standing right, taking sword from kneeling de Lezo, and the reverse depicts two ships outside Cartagena harbour. It is estimated at £400-£500.
NEXT SALE OF COINS, TOKENS AND HISTORICAL MEDALS –
WEDNESDAY 12 & THURSDAY 13 JUNE 2019
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