DNW sales are always jam-packed full of goodies and, with over 1,200 lots, take two days to clear. It's always difficult to decide what to draw attention to when blogging on one of them. There were some very nice lifesaving medals, which are an interest of mine. Some were from the collection of John Wilson, an expert on the awards on the Society for the Preservation of Life from Fire (he literally wrote the book on the subject). One group of medals that jumped out at me wasn't from John's collection, but was to a bathing superintendent, Frank Shooter, who was credited with saving over 300 lives during a remarkable career. For some reason these were unsold - perhaps the estimate of £3,000-3,500 was just a little too rich when there was so much else on offer.
|Launcelot Fleming's medals|
|Bishop Launcelot Fleming|
It was a lovely selection of material and just went to show how collecting themes can over-lap, for there was something for everyone. There were medals from the Napoleonic Wars to modern conflicts; campaign awards; orders; gallantry awards; and long service medals. Although there were medals to doctors and nurses who served in the Army and Air Forces, I'll pick out a couple of early pieces to naval surgeons.
|Sir George Magrath's medal group - £14,400|
|Naval General Service Medal to Surgeon B F Outram|
- an eye-watering £33,600.
The significance of all this lies in the fact that the Naval General Service Medal wasn't awarded until 1847 and only to those surviving veterans who went through the application process. As a result, some of the early, 'single ship' clasps were only claimed by a very few men. Although 144 of the 'Gut of Gibratar' clasps were issued, there were only 5 of the 'Nymphe'. This is a unique combination. One knowledgeable collector of Naval General Service medals described this as a 'once in a lifetime' purchase. Oddly enough, there was no indication of this scarcity factor in Bonham's catalogue description. With an estimate of £5,000-7,000, the medal sold for an eye-watering £33,600 (inc premium).