So-Called Dollars


In early 19th century, beginning 1818, British encouraged attempts to find Northwest Passage--ocean route connecting Atlantic and Pacific Oceans via Arctic. In 1845 Sir John Franklin, commanding 2 vessels and 138 persons under authority of British Admiralty, reached Lancaster Sound, then disappeared. In next 10 years, dozens of relief expeditions attempted rescue, spurred on by $100,000 reward offer.

New Yorker Henry Grinnell fitted out three such rescue efforts beginning 1850, Dr. Kane being member of first and commander of second Grinnell Expeditions. They did reach 80 N, named area Grinnell Land but failed in principal objective. Later it was established that Franklin died in Arctic June 11, 1847. While British erected monument to him as "discoverer" of Northwest Passage, this was not verifiable. First man to take ship through passage was Roald Amundsen (Norway) in 1903-05.

It is obvious, of course, that these medals were not issued until after Dr. Kane's death; no doubt struck to commemorate either his death or his expeditions; engraved by William H. Key; issuer unknown.

Photos courtesy of Robert Mayer

Obv. Male bust r. in high relief; to l. Dr. E. K.; to r. Kane.; below bust, microscopic Key F
Rev. Born in Phila. Pa. / Feb. 3, 1822, / Commander of the / Grinnell Arctic / Expedition / May 30, 1853, / Died / Feb. 14, 1857.

HK-756 Bronze. 38mm.
HK-757 White Metal.