News & Blog

Bonhams December 16 2009

Posted on Sat, 30 January 2010 by Phil Mussell - Medal News


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:

Although this sale included relatively few medals, much of what was on offer was worth commenting on, and was attractive and (generally speaking) affordable for many collectors.

Five Naval General Service Medals 1793 opened the single medal section, the most interesting of which was awarded to Owen Anning, Carpenter’s Crew, HMS Revolutionaire, with clasp St Sebastian [Lot 2]; catalogued as having “heavy bruising and contact marks” (the latter indicating a missing medal, perhaps), it was correctly estimated at £900–1,200, selling for £1,050 hammer (£1,234 including buyers’ premium of 17.5 per cent). The Waterloo Medal named for James Allison, 6th Inniskilling Dragoons [6], was accompanied by minimal research, and estimated realistically at £1,600–2,000; however, the successful bidder had to pay £3,643 to take it away, making it one of the most expensive Waterloo Medals sold at auction this year. The next lot [7] was, compared with the Waterloo Medal, very well written up in the catalogue: “China Medal 1842 to William Backhouse Monypenny, Lieutenant on HMS Sulphur; as a result of his actions during this campaign he was promoted to Commander”. The top estimate of £1,000 was just beaten, the lot achieving £1,351. An attractive Crimea Medal clasp Sebastopol [12] to Cpl S. Hudd, 34th Foot, catalogued as “toned, almost extremely fine”, and with a top estimate of £200, topped this to the tune of £294. Yet another Indian Mutiny Medal clasp Defence of Lucknow to the 32nd Light Infantry appeared here [16], this one to Samuel Smith, who died of wounds in November 1857. Several of these medals have appeared on the market in 2009, notably at Bosleys in March when the medal and similar clasp to Sgt J. Farrall (killed September 1857) sold for £1,725 (including premium); in June when the medal and clasp to C/Sgt Robert Gee (died March 1858) made £1,380; and at DNW in September when the medal to Henry Bushell (died July 1857), made £1,920. It was probably disappointing for the vendor, therefore, when Smith’s medal made no more than the bottom estimate of £600 (hammer, £705 in total). Perhaps the condition (“refixed suspension”) went against it. The attractive New Zealand Medal, reverse 1863–1866 [18], to (Brigadier Surgeon) Robert Alexander Peter Grant, 43rd Light Infantry (1835–1916) was accompanied by an outline of his career; the lot sold for £780 (hammer, £917 in all) against an estimate of £600–800. Abyssinia Medals are not common on the market currently, and it was therefore slightly surprising that the example to Pte P. Collins, 33rd Foot [21], did not even reach the bottom estimate of £280, making no more than £270 (hammer, £318 altogether). Two damaged, but iconic, lots appeared in this sale, giving a collector of modest means a chance to acquire an example at a reasonable price. Lot 22 was a Second Afghan War Medal to Pte J. Nolan, 66th Foot; although the medal’s condition (“evidence of brooch fitting . . . refixed suspension, polished . . .”) was against it, and Nolan was not a casualty of Maiwand, the selling price was only £100 (hammer, £118 altogether), not even reaching the bottom estimate of £140. Similarly, Lot 24 was a Tibet Medal with clasp to Pte J. Sewell, Royal Fusiliers, catalogued as “fire damaged, poor”, with a top estimate of £150; even in this condition, the lot was bid up to £212, but this would still be within the reach of the majority of collectors, whereas the similar medal to Pte J. Scott made £960 at DNW in September.

Among the campaign groups was yet another pair of medals, several examples of which have appeared on the market recently: Queen’s and Khedive’s Sudan Medals to Pte H. Gammon, 21st Lancers [40], who was catalogued as having been in A Squadron and listed as a Trumpeter. Similar pairs to this regiment have made varying amounts recently. The pair to Cpl J. Range, who was slightly wounded in the charge, realised £5,400 at DNW in June 2009; that to Sgt G. Lelliott made £2,280 at Spink in July 2008; the pairto Pte T. Kevins sold for £1,351 at Bonhams in December 2008. Gammon’s pair beat its top estimate of £1,800 to achieve £2,233, therefore selling competitively.

The Memorial Plaque to Lilian Kane [25] was enigmatic. The catalogue stated that this name was not recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, but the Imperial War Museum recorded her as attached to the Land Army. The General Register Office index records a Lilian Kane, who died in Sussex, aged 18, in the December quarter 1918. Clearly worthy of more research, this lot reached the bottom estimate of £1,500 (hammer, £1,763 in all). An intriguing Lot [41] consisted of a 1914 Star Trio to (Commander) P. H. Ridler, RN, Armoured Trains. [With the group, but probably not influencing the bidding unduly, was a 1935 Jubilee Medal, miniatures, and assorted coins, medallions and 36 £1 notes!] The top estimate of £700 was trebled, the lot selling for £2,115. An attractive lot [48] for collectors of officer casualties was the group to (2/Lt) John Jarvie: 1914–15 Star Trio, Memorial Plaque and Scroll, the Star being named for him as Sergeant, Royal Scots; he died of wounds in April 1917 serving with 7/8th King’s Own Scottish Borderers. The catalogue recorded some of his personal details, which hinted that more rewarding research could be done, and the estimate of £500–700 was just about right, the lot making £620 (hammer, £729 with premium).

The gallantry medals in this sale generally conformed very much to estimate. A single Distinguished Conduct Medal (GV) to Gilbert McKie, 7/Cameron Highlanders [28], who was killed in action in March 1918, did not quite meet the bottom estimate of £800, selling for £780 (hammer, £917 in all); perhaps the fact that the citation was not an overly fighting one told against the lot. The single Military Medal (GVI) to Sgt R. Cox, Corps of Military Police, in spite of a glowing citation, and there having been no more than 63 MMs to the CMP, reached only the bottom estimate of £1,200 (hammer, £1,410 with premium). However, this was reversed with the superb group to Frederick Charles Willoughby, Royal Marines [38], consisting of Distinguished Service Medal (GVI), 1939–45/Africa/Italy/Burma Stars, Defence & War Medals, Royal Fleet Reserve Long Service Medal (GVI). His citation was for Norway, and the top estimate of £1,800 was easily beaten with the successful bidder having to pay £2,703.