Bronze presentation medal for Robert Edwin Peary from the Royal Geographical Society, for Arctic Exploration 1886-1909, presented 1910
Robert Edwin Peary (1856-1920) claimed to have been the first person to reach the geographic North Pole on 6 April 1909. This has always been viewed with a certain scepticism, coming within a year of Frederick Cook's own discredited claims to have achieved the same feat. Peary had no trained navigator on his expedition, and his accounts of the final leg are at odds with those of Matthew Henson who accompanied him. Nonetheless, Peary's achievement was certified by the National Geographic Society, a major sponsor of his expeditions, and the Royal Geographical Society awarded him a gold version of the present medal "not solely for the last journey of his in which he reached the Pole, but also for all the long years of toil and trouble which he has devoted to polar exploration" (John Edward Weems, Peary, 1967). Peary's misfortunes continued, however, when, at the award ceremony, his lantern slide projector overheated shattering the glass plates, and the medal slipped out of his hands and disappeared between the floorboards of the stage in front of an audience of 10,000 (Robert M. Bryce, Cook & Peary, 1997).
Following the Cook-Peary controversy, Roald Amundsen took precautions to avoid any doubt in his South Pole expedition.