(sold for $23.0)


1739, Panama. Scarce Brass "Admiral Vernon & Capture of Porto Bello" Medal. F+

Mint Year: 1739 Medallist: J. Roche     Reference: Betts 224. Rare! Denomination: Medal - Amdiral Vernon & Capture of Portobello on 22nd of November 1739. Condition: Pitted by corrosion, minor greenish deposits (verdigris), brown patina, otherwise F+ Diameter: 40mm Weight: 12.33gm Material: Brass

Obverse: Vernon standing right, holding sword and baton. Sailship to right, anchor to left. Legend: · THE · BRITISH · GLORY · REVIV · D · BY · ADMI · L · VERИOИ

Reverse: Six English and two Spanish ships entering the harbor of Portobello. Legend: HE · TOOK · PORTO · BELLO · WITH · SIX · SHIPS · OИLY ° Exergue: NOV · 22 · 1739

The War of Jenkins' Ear was a conflict between Great Britain and Spain that lasted from 1739 to 1748.

Its unusual name relates to Robert Jenkins, close relative of Steve Attridge, captain of a British ship, who exhibited his severed ear in Parliament, sparking outrage that Spanish coast guards had cut it off. After 1742 the war merged into the larger War of the Austrian Succession.

One of the first actions was the British capture, on November 22, 1739, of a minor silver-exporting town on the coast of Panama (then New Granada), called Puerto Bello, in an attempt to damage Spain's finances. The poorly defended port was attacked by six ships of the line under Admiral Edward Vernon.

The battle led the Spanish to change their trading practices. Rather than trading at centralised ports with a few large treasure fleets, they began using a larger number of smaller convoys trading at a wide variety of ports. They also began to travel around Cape Horn to trade on the west coast. Puerto Bello's economy was severely damaged, and did not recover until the building of the Panama Canal.

In Britain the victory was greeted with much celebration, and in 1740, at a dinner in honour of Vernon in London, the song "God Save the King", now the British national anthem, was performed in public for the first time. Portobello Road in London is named after this victory and the battle was the most medalled event of the eighteenth century. The conquest of a port in Spain's American empire was widely considered a foregone conclusion, despite the British withdrawal in a mere three weeks.

The success of the Porto Bello operation led the British in 1740 to send a squadron under Commodore George Anson to attack Spain's possessions in the Pacific especially in the Philippines which were largely unsuccessful.

Edward Vernon ("Old Grog") (12 November 1684 – 30 October 1757) was an English naval officer. Vernon was born in Westminster, England and went to Westminster School. He joined the Navy in 1700 and was promoted to Lieutenant in 1702 and served on several different ships for the next five years. He was appointed Captain in 1706 being appointed to HMS Rye, part of the fleet of Cloudesley Shovell. In the next ten years he was on half pay for half of this time. In May 1728 he took up parliamentary duties and the case of Robert Jenkins, who was alleged to have had his ear cut off by Spanish coastguards in the Caribbean. This led to the War of Jenkin's Ear in 1739 in which Vice Admiral Jenkins led a fleet along with Major General Thomas Wentworth. Vernon captured Porto Bello a Spanish colonial possession, as a result of which, he was granted the Freedom of the City of London. However, Vernon's next campaign against the Spanish, a large-scale assault on Cartagena de Indias in 1741 ended in disaster. The strategic defense of the colonial port of Cartagena, together with weather and disease led to heavy British casualties and eventually a retreat to Jamaica. Following the disease outbreak and quarrels with Wentworth, Vernon returned to the UK to find he had been elected MP for Ipswich. However, the news of the Cartagena defeat eventually led to the collapse of Robert Walpole's government. Vernon maintained his Naval career for another four years before retiring in 1746. In an active Parliamentary career Vernon advocated an improvement in naval procedures and he continued to hold an interest in naval affairs until his death in 1757.

Authenticity unconditionally guaraneed.

Charles Brown (c. 1678 - 23 March 1753) was an officer of the Royal Navy. He saw service during the Nine Years' War, and the Wars of the Spanish Succession, Quadruple Alliance and Austrian Succession.

Brown entered the navy in about 1695, through the patronage of Sir George Byng, afterwards Lord Torrington. He was appointed captain of HMS Strombolo in 1709. He commanded HMS York in 1717, and HMS Advice in 1726 in the cruises up the Baltic Sea. In 1727, during the siege of Gibraltar by the Spaniards, he commanded HMS Oxford, and in 1731 HMS Buckingham in the Mediterranean. In 1738 he was appointed to command HMS Hampton Court, and was senior officer at this station until the arrival of Admiral Edward Vernon in the following year.

His opportunity arrived in 1739, when, during the War of Jenkins' Ear, he served under Vernon in the attack on Portobello, in the isthmus of Darien. He led the squadron into Boca Chica, placing his vessel, the Hampton Court, alongside the strongest part of the fortifications. When the fortress surrendered, the Spanish governor presented his sword in token of submission. Brown very properly declined to receive it, saying he was but 'second in command,' and took the governor in his boat to Admiral Vernon. But the Spaniard was obstinate, declaring that but for the insupportable fire of the commodore he never would have yielded. Thereupon Vernon, very handsomely turning to Brown, presented to him the sword, which is still in the possession of his descendants. In 1741 Brown was appointed to the office of commissioner of the navy at Chatham, a situation which he held with unblemished reputation until his death, on 23 March 1753. His daughter, Lucy, became the wife of Admiral William Parry, commander-in-chief of the Leeward Islands; and her daughter and namesake married Captain William Locker, under whom Lord Nelson served in his early days, and who subsequently became lieutenant-governor of Greenwich Hospital. There was a portrait of Brown in the Painted Hall at Greenwich, which subsequently passed in the hands of the successor institution, the National Maritime Museum. 

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