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Medals whether awarded for sporting achievements, academic and charity work or military service

30/05/2024     Blog

One of my most prized possession has to be my late father’s MBE which was awarded to him for his charitable and political service.

Medals whether awarded for sporting achievements, academic and charity work or military service are very sought after at auction.

Most experts agree that the first medal created was made by Antonio Pisano (or “Pisanello“), an Italian painter who lived from 1395 to 1455. The medal, made in 1438-1439 portrays John VIII Palaeologus – the penultimate Byzantine emperor.

Here at Sheffield Auction Gallery, we are busy preparing for our forthcoming Medals & Militaria auction and are lucky enough to have been consigned a wonderful single owner collection of over forty WWI and post WWII Gallantry, Service and Campaign medals. 

There were five British campaign medals awarded in WWI namely the 1914 star, the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the Territorial Force War Medal. Individuals generally received a maximum of three medals affectionately known as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred.

The historical context behind the medal is very important to its auction value whether it be an extraordinary act of bravery or heroism or an important campaign or battle. Collectors always are really excited when medal collections include background information such as photographs, flight records, log-books, uniforms etc and these extra items always increase a medals value.

Back in 2017 we were honoured to sell an historically important group of seven World War II awarded to Squadron Leader Sydney Clayton RAF. The medals included a DSO, DFC and Bar, DFM, Air Crew Star, 1929-1945, Defence Medal and War Medal plus miniatures. The collection fetched an amazing £28,000 and there was a real trill and excitement in the sale room. Another interesting group of medals we have sold were a group of four Antarctic and WWI medals which were awarded to Petty Officer Frederick Parsons, RAF who was one of only sixty-five men to receive the Antarctic 1910-1913 Bar and which was presented by King George. This wonderful lot realise £19,000.

The Victoria Cross is the ‘Holy Grail’ for medal collectors because there are only 1,357 in existence. The Victoria Cross or VC as it is commonly known is awarded for acts of valour and courage in the face of the enemy. First introduced in 1856 and remains one of the highest honours bestowed upon members of the British and Commonwealth armed forces. The Victoria Cross is priceless in terms of its historical and symbolic value, but the highest price achieved for a medal was a VC which sold for 1.5 million pounds!

Medal collecting is a really interesting hobby and more common examples can be found from £20-30. Why not collect a particular regiment, period or medal type. As always, we are here to help and guide you in the right direction.