THE £160 MEDAL

The catalogue of DNW Auction in London for sales on July 11 described details of a copper medal with an interesting history. It shows Britannia on one side holding a scroll and on the other a laurel globe and sextant. The medal, which was sold for £160, was originally given to 150 Tanganyikan members of the Royal Geographical Society’s East Africa Expedition (1878 – 1880). The medal cost at that time £41.16 shillings and the silk cord to suspend it £12. The expedition was launched to find a feasible route from Dar es Salaam to the Central African lakes and was led by Alexander Keith Johnston. However, a few weeks after setting off from Zanzibar, he succumbed to dysentery and command of the expedition passed to another Scot, Joseph Thompson, who was only 21. The catalogue explains how Thompson’s coolness and tact were remarkable and how he successfully conducted the expedition across the desolate regions of Uhehe and Ubena to the north end of Lake Nyasa and then found a hitherto unexplored track to Lake Tanganyika. He also reached Lake Rukwa from which he marched back via Tabora to the coast at Bagamoyo before returning to London in 1880 (Thank you John Sankey for this – Editor).

the medalThe Royal Geographical Society East Africa Expedition medal

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