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Captain James Cook's Pacific Voyages

Captain James Cook
Silver medal manufactured in London by Matthew Boulton in 1772. Rare silver issue of the famous medal issued for the departure of Cook's second voyage in the Resolution and Adventure. It is one of only 142 specimens struck in silver. The silver medals, and two in gold, were commissioned by Sir Joseph Banks for his private use. Acquired in 1894. 
Australian Museum 
photographer: AM, Anthropology Dept - Yvonne Carrillo-Huffman
 
Captain James Cook(1728-1779) of the English Navy commanded three voyages of discovery, which traversed different pathways all over the vast Pacific Ocean, from its far southwest and Australia to the arctic regions of Alaska and Siberia.

The purpose of the first voyage on the Endeavour (1768-1771) was to observe scientifically the transit of the planet Venus from the vantage point of Tahiti, which had only recently been discovered for the West by the Englishman Samuel Wallis.
The second voyage on the Resolution and the Adventure (1772-1775) set out to discover the great southern continent that was believed to exist by geographers of the time, somewhere south of the Dutch East Indies.
The aim of the third voyage on the Resolution and the Discovery (1776-1780) was to search for a north western passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

None of these voyages were particularly successful in terms of their original purposes. Their importance was due rather to the large amount of scientific and geographical material and information collected. This greatly stimulated the development of Zoology and Botany as scientific disciplines, and the maps made on the voyages were so accurate that they form the basis of maps used today. Cook's relatively humane treatment of his crews and the new regimes he undertook to keep them healthy during the voyages were also groundbreaking. It is not surprising then that he has become a major folk hero for the British people.

Reference: A Kaeppler, 1978 "Artificial Curiosities", B.P.Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii.

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