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21 April 2014
Collectors spend freely




by Christoper Proudlove

Collectors dug deep and spent freely, often ignoring guide prices, at the inaugural sale of orders, medals and militaria at South Wales’s leading fine art and antiques auctioneers Rogers Jones Co. The sale of just over 300 lots raised a total of £83,725.

Among the highest prices was a fine portrait of a hero of Wellington’s defeat of Napoleon in the Peninsular War, Benjamin Worthington, wearing his Naval General Service Medal. The portrait, an imposing 6 x 4 feet oil on canvas was attributed to the artist William Salter or Sir John Watson Gordon, and showed Worthington with his wife, Mary, looking out to sea, with his ship in the distance. It sold for £6,800 and was purchased by Jan Worthington, a  relative living in Australia.

Miss Worthington is one of Australia's foremost genealogists and author of "Coopers & Customs Cutters - Worthingtons of Dover and Related Families 1560-1906" published by Philmore Press in 1997. She intends to loan the painting to Dover Museum in Kent.

The first son of Benjamin Jelly Worthington, a Commander of His Majesty’s Customs Cutter “Tartar”, Benjamin was born in 1790 and was present at the bombardment and seizure of San Sebastian and assisted in the capture of L’Alcyon. He also escorted a squadron of 5,000 troops to Canada.

Coincidentally, the sale also included a Naval General Service medal with clasps for the actions at Java and San Sebastian, awarded to James Brawley. It sold for £2,000.

Most valuable medals in the sale, however, was a C.M.G., C.B.E and D.S.O. group of nine to Col F.H.W. Guard who served in both the West Africa Frontier Force and the Royal Scots. He was later appointed Chief of Staff to General Ironside in North Russia and Second-in-Command to the Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary, the Black and Tans. He subsequently transferred to the R.A.F. as a squadron leader in Iraq but later contracted malaria, dying in 1927. The medals sold for £8,000.

Nearest contender for top honours was a unique combination of three medals to Lt Eugene Clementi-Smith comprising the Victorian D.S.O. still in its box of issue; the North West Canada Medal 1885 and the Queen’s South Africa Medal with bars for Cape Colony, Orange Free State and Transvaal. With them was a commemorative shooting medal and a silver cup won by Clementi-Smith, presented in 1895. They sold for £5,800.

Clementi-Smith died of his wounds during the Boer War. The D.S.O. was awarded posthumously, the citation reading: “On 11th Sept. 1901 ... he advanced alone to occupy a position Boers were making for, and though wounded through the right shoulder, continued to fire with the left, keeping the enemy off until he was reinforced.” To this day, there is an annual competition at Bisley Shooting Ground for the Clementi-Smith Challenge Cup and silver medal.

A superior group of 16 medals to Maj-Gen Henry Temple Devereux-Hickman including the Military O.B.E; Military Cross and the Indian General Service Medal with Northwest Frontier clasps for 1908 and 1936-37 sold for £2,800. They were accompanied by original paperwork, portraits and photographs of Hickman’s career which began at Sandurst College and spanned 37 years.

The War Medal received by Mary Jones from Pwllheli after her son’s death in action in 1918, which attracted media attention prior to the sale, sold for £110 against an estimate of £40-60.

Private Robert Jones joined the Canadian Infantry after emigrating. The medal was sold with a large original portrait photograph of Jones in civvies, others of him in the uniform of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (C.E.F.), one flanked by his mother and sister and another showing his grave marked by a simple cross; his original C.E.F. Death Certificate, commemorative scroll, last will and testament, and postcards and letters home.

Written in Welsh, one letter dated July 18 1918 read: “I wish I was with you, mum – make sure you spend the £5 I left on a holiday when you can. I am glad to hear you are well, as I am – at the moment. From your son.” He was killed in action less than two months later on September 18. Hostilities ceased with the armistice on November 11, 1918.

Although this inaugural auction was timed to commemorate the 100 years since the start of the First World War, sales of militaria will be a regular feature of the sales calendar at Rogers Jones Co. For further information and to consign items for the September militaria auction, please contact the auctioneer on 02920 708125 or cardiffinfo@rogersjones.co.uk.

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