LIVERPOOL SHIPWRECK AND HUMANE SOCIETY LIFE SAVING MEDAL 1874

$975.00

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Item Code: 30-2206

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Founded in 1839 to help reward those who tried to save lives in the January 1839 hurricane on the Irish Sea, the Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society struck its first medals in 1844, which were also presented for rescues going back to November 1839.

This is a very nice example of their silver “Type III,” adopted 1874/75. The obverse shows a man crouching on a drifting spar taking an inert child from the hands of its drowning mother as a boat in the background picks up other survivors from the water. (In its bow a man waves a hat, perhaps indicating to the good samaritan that he might save the woman, too.) The top of the medal bears the words, “Lord, save us, we perish.” The reverse bears the society’s name and founding date around the edge. The center has a wreath surrounding a “Liver Bird,” the mythological bird associated with the city of Liverpool. (Likely an amalgamation of eagle, cormorant, dove, spoonbill and others, courtesy of various artists over the centuries. We pass over discussion of whether the sprig in its beak is a shore plant or seaweed.)

Fitted with a blue ribbon and scroll suspender, the medal is engraved around its edge: “George Baker Second Officer S.S. Adriatic, For Rescuing Crew Of Barque Auguste April 27th 1874.” The base of the suspender overlaps slightly the first two letters of the recipient’s name and the last two numbers of the date. The SS Adriatic was a White Star Liner launched in 1871. The barque Charles Auguste, launched in 1867, was carrying a cargo of coal from Newcastle when lost off the Easternfields Reef in the Coral Sea on April 27, 1874. One boat with 10 survivors was picked up. Another with 9 disappeared. Baker and the Adriatic must have been involved with saving the first group.

The medal is housed in green leatherette case measuring about 4.75 by 2.75 inches with the society’s emblem gilt blindstamped on the lid. The bottom of the interior is lined with purple velvet, the inside of the lid with white silk embossed in gilt: “Oldfields, Ltd. Jewelers Old Post Office Place Church St. Liverpool.” The box has very minor scuffs. The medal ribbon has a dark rectangular mark on the back that might be residue from a tag or label, but does not show on the front. The silver has a pleasing medium patina.  [sr]

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