Market scene October - December 2009
The sheer number of sales in October, November and December 2009 means that we aren't able to accommodate full reports for each within the pages of MEDAL NEWS therefore we have highlights within the magazine with the full reports appearing here:
Bosleys offered 121 lots of orders, decorations and medals in their December sale, and the eclectic mix remained the same.
Sometimes it is interesting to see how a superficially unattractive lot can sell well. The China War Medal 1842 to Sgt T. Patterson, 26th Foot [Lot 468], was catalogued as “fitted with a replacement suspension bar and evidence of brooch marks. Edge knocks”, and its top estimate of £100 reflected this; however, the successful bidder was prepared to pay £150 (including buyer’s premium of 15 per cent) for it. An enigmatic group  which appealed to the room comprised Crimean War Medal clasp Sebastopol, South Africa Medal 1877 (without clasp), Turkish Crimea Medal to Randall Ironside Ward, Royal Navy and 90th Foot. Ward served as a Midshipman on Hannibalin the Crimea, later transferring to the Army, and becoming (as a Captain) the only officer of his regiment to receive the medal without clasp during the Zulu War. The top estimate of £1,200 was beaten, the lot achieving £1,438. A small collection of Indian Mutiny Medals to the 90th Light Infantry included a medal with clasps Lucknow, Defence Of Lucknow to Samuel Juniper ; the estimate of £600–800 looked on the high side, but it reached the lower figure (£690 altogether). Another Mutiny Medal  with similar clasps, to Jonas Harper, 84th Foot, an original defender of the Residency and a survivor of the campaign, was bid up to £1,955 against a top estimate of £1,000. Certain Scottish regiments saw extensive service in Egypt and the Sudan, and the four-clasp Egypt Medal (Tel-El-Kebir, Suakin 1884, El Teb Tamaai, The Nile 1884–85) to Robert Malcolm, Gordon Highlanders  exemplified this, beating the top estimate of £400 to reach £575. The Gordons featured again with a fine campaign trio : India Medal clasps Relief Of Chitral, Punjab Frontier 1897–98, Tirah 1897–98, Queen’s South Africa Medal clasps Elandslaagte, Defence Of Ladysmith, Transvaal, Laing’s Nek, Cape Colony, Orange Free State, King’s South Africa Medal with two clasps to Pte A. Hendry; with no research at all, and estimated at £500, this highly researchable lot sold at £633. The East & West Africa Medal clasp Juba River 1893  to H. Singer, Ordinary Seaman, HMS Blanche, was obviously a desirable lot (the catalogue recorded only 42 of these clasps having been awarded), but it reached only its bottom estimate of £1,500 (hammer, £1,725 in all). A very researchable lot  was the South Africa/World War I group awarded to Robert Street, comprising Queen’s South Africa Medal clasps Cape Colony, Paardeberg, Driefontein, Transvaal, Wittebergen, King’s South Africa Medal two clasps (Pte, Seaforth Highlanders), 1914–15 Star Trio (Pte, Royal Fusiliers); with no research apart from a Medal Index Card showing that he served with the 25/Royal Fusiliers and 8/London Regiment, it had a top estimate of £300, and sold at £391.
Fatal casualty groups to officers killed in World War I have always been a popular collecting theme, and so it proved with the 1914–15 Star Trio and Plaque to (Lt) The Honourable Philip Granville Jones Fitzalan Howard, Welsh Guards , who died of wounds in May 1918; once again, the estimator was taken by surprise, setting the upper estimate at £600 while the successful bidder paid £2,300. A 1914–15 Star Trio with a General Service Medal 1918 clasp N.W.Persia awarded to Pte C. Revill, York & Lancaster Regiment  reached its top estimate of £150 (hammer, £173 in total).
Within this sale was a mini-collection of 20 lots consisting of medals to women, overwhelmingly connected with the nursing services. A remarkable lot of British War & Victory Medals  to Driver S. M. Hext, FANYC, was catalogued as “a scarce pair”; apparently Hext worked in France from June 1918 to April 1919, one of no more than 120 members of the Field Ambulance Nursing Yeomanry working with the Red Cross in August 1918. With a top estimate of £120, it eventually sold for £575. On a rather more modest level, the BWM/VM pair and GSM 1918 clasp Iraq to Staff Nurse A. Steel  was catalogued with a small amount of research, but this appealed to the bidders, achieving £575 against a top estimate of £300. The most interesting lot in this little collection was 499, Royal Red Cross 1st Class, Queen’s & King’s South Africa Medals without clasps to (Matron) Frances Rosa Holmes. She earned the South Africa medals at Hospitals in Cape Town and Bloemfontein, and was still serving when she landed in France in August 1914 (the trio was not included in the lot), earning her ARRC award in June 1917 as Acting Matron, 6/General Hospital. With a realistic top estimate of £600, it nevertheless came in at £863.
A World War II group  struck a chord with the room, and the successful bidder had to pay £633 for the Indian General Service Medal 1936 clasp North West Frontier 1936–37, GSM 1918 clasp Palestine, 1939–45/Africa/Italy Stars, Defence & War Medals to Pte E. E. Hodges, South Wales Borderers, which had a top estimate of no more than £300.
An item catalogued as rare was the Long Service Medal (EII) with clasp Gibraltar to Cpl M. Sene ; the top estimate of £300 was overtaken easily with the lot reaching £518.
Of the gallantry medals in this sale, and of the sale altogether, the biggest price was made by the group to Squadron-Leader Jozef Jeka, a Polish airman who joined the RAF in February 1940, and whose group  comprised Virtuti Militari 5th Class, Cross of Valour (two clasps), Air Force Medal, 1939–45/Air Crew Europe Stars, War Medal. Included with the lot was a large number of documents and ephemera, and the catalogue recorded extensive biographical details about Jeka’s wartime and subsequent service (apparently he was killed in 1958 flying clandestinely for the United States CIA). The top estimate of £8,000 looked realistic, but the lot was bid up to an astonishing £35,650. The second highest seller was another gallantry group: Conspicuous Gallantry Medal, Distinguished Conduct Medal, 1914–15 Star Trio to (Chief Petty Officer) Joseph James Reed, RN (1887–1923). His DSM was awarded for the Ostend raid in April 1918, and the CGM for the Zeebrugge raid in May 1918. The medals were accompanied by “a quantity of research”, including a framed photograph of the recipient, and this time the estimate of £20,000–25,000 was very accurate, as the lot  sold for £21,000 (hammer, £24,150 in total). Another DSM for the Zeebrugge raid was awarded to Stoker William Carter on Vindictive; he was wounded during the raid but survived. His DSM and 1914–15 Star Trio was bid up to £2,070, beating the £1,500 top estimate. World War II gallantry groups can usually be relied on to sell well, even though they sometimes lack an officially named medal, such as Lot 511, which comprised a Member of the British Empire badge (civil), Military Cross (privately engraved), 1939–45/Burma Stars, Defence & War Medals to (Major) Peter W. Burton, 5/16 Punjab Regiment. There was a fine fighting citation for the MC, which was recommended in April 1944 for his contribution to the action at Buthidaung, but the estimate of £1,800–2,200 was too much for the room, and the lot sold for no more than £1,500 (hammer, £1,725).