World Medals, Orders, and Decorations

Following the highly successful auction of Part 1 of the Society’s collection of World Medals, Orders, and Decorations in May, Part 2 is scheduled for sale in London on Wednesday and Thursday, October 25-26. It will feature the remaining British and German items, further European and Near East material (including Turkey), and a strong section of Russian orders, medals, and badges. The final portion, Part 3, principally comprising the Far East and South American decorations and awards, will be sold in the spring of 2007.

In the October sale, the British medals are led by a “blue ribbon” (i.e., Naval issue) Victoria Cross (Fig. 1) awarded to Mr. George Bell Chicken, for his valor during the Indian Mutiny in 1858. A volunteer with the Indian Naval Brigade, Chicken was one of only five civilians ever to be honored with Britain’s premier gallantry award. He did not, unfortunately, live to receive it, as he was lost at sea in a shipwreck, and records indicate that his VC was sent to his father in London in March 1862. The story does not end here, however, since not one but two Victoria Crosses named to Chicken survive, both of which appear to be genuine! A possible explanation is that the original medal was forwarded to India for presentation to the recipient and was lost after it was realized that Chicken had died, making necessary the production of a second medal to be issued to George Chicken, Sr., in his son’s memory. The ANS example comes from the Sanford Saltus Collection and is believed to have been acquired by private treaty sale in London.

Figure 1. A Victoria Cross awarded to a civilian, George Chicken, for gallantry during the Indian Mutiny.

The October event will also include an Army Gold Medal (Fig. 2) awarded to Captain Francis Scott (a casualty at the Battle of San Sebastian in 1813), an extensive run of miniature medals, a series of awards for Lifesaving, and a particularly fine example of the Prussian Pour Le Mérite gallantry medal (Fig. 3), perhaps better known by its nickname, the “Blue Max.” Strong pre-sale attention has already been shown in the Russian orders to be offered, several of which were featured in the spring edition of this magazine. One of the most appealing specialist pieces in this section is a reduced-size badge (for neck wear) of the Order of the White Eagle (Fig. 4), made by Adolf Sper, an outstanding craftsman of Swedish origin who worked in St. Petersburg circa 1850 and whose pieces are excessively rare.

Figure 2. Small Army Gold Medal awarded to Captain Francis Scott for the Battle of Vittoria, with clasp for St. Sebastian, where the recipient was a casualty.

Figure 3. Prussia, Pour Le Mérite, mid-nineteenth century.

Figure 4. Russia, Order of the White Eagle, reduced-size neck badge by Adolf Sper.

Further information can be obtained from the auctioneers: Morton & Eden Ltd., 45 Maddox Street, London, W1S 2PE, United Kingdom. Telephone: +44 207 493 5344, Fax: +44 207 495 6325. E-mail: Web site: