Orders, Decorations and Medals (25 September 2008)

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Date of Auction: 25th September 2008

Sold for £720

Estimate: £600 - £800

The firm of J. R. Gaunt & Son was established in 1884 when John Richard Gaunt and his eldest son, Charles Frederick, left their employment with the long established London military buttonmakers Firmin & Sons to set up on their own. The firm, originally based at the intersection of Clifford Street and Furnace Lane in the Birmingham district of Lozells, prospered and began to supply badges and buttons to uniformed organisations all over the world. By 1895 the business had moved to the city’s Warstone Parade; four years later it was incorporated as a limited company and by 1905 had opened a London office in Conduit Street. After the First World War they purchased a number of other insignia manafacturers, including in 1925 Jennens & Co Ltd, the prestigious family firm of royal button and military ornament makers founded in London in the early years of the 19th century and whose buttons were made at the Jennens-owned Deritend Button Works. With the acquisition of the Jennens business Gaunts moved their London base to Warwick Street.

During the 1950’s J. R. Gaunt & Sons Ltd donated to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Museum (from 1960 the National Army Museum) a large quantity of buttons and badges from its Birmingham works. It should be stressed that these items are distinct from the militaria collection formed by Alderman C. F. Gaunt, which remains the property of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. The collection included approximately fifty ledgers containing examples of buttons made by companies which J. R. Gaunt absorbed during the 1920’s, including the aforementioned Jennens & Co Ltd, Bent & Parker Ltd and Twigg & Co Ltd, the last-named originating with the button-making business started by Charles Twigg near St Paul’s Square, Birmingham, in 1790.

The National Army Museum has retained the military buttons from these ledgers and, having failed to find another museum willing to take on the remainder, sold Part I of the collection in Dix Noonan Webb’s auction of 28 November 2007, with the following 48 lots offered in this sale comprising the balance of the archive. As with Part I, many of the lots offered in this auction are for livery worn by household servants of virtually all the nobility and most titled families of Great Britain and Ireland, although there are also a number of other interesting and extremely rare buttons of the Royal Navy, long-vanished hunts, shipping companies and those worn at Royal Court.

Royal Navy & Associated Maritime,
including Hospital Surgeons (serpent), Navigation, Beam Engine patterns, Mufti and Half-Pay, Customs (WIVR), Preventive Water Guard, various port pilots and many other interesting items, very good condition (123) £600-800