Orders, Decorations and Medals (25 September 2008)

Date of Auction: 25th September 2008

Sold for £6,500

Estimate: £6,000 - £8,000

A Polar Medal pair awarded to Lieutenant Harold Hamilton, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, geologist and entomologist on Mawson’s Australasian Antarctic Expedition 1912-14

British War Medal (Lieut. H. Hamilton, R.N.V.R.); Polar Medal 1904, G.V.R., 1st issue, silver, 1 clasp, Antarctic 1912-14 (H. Hamilton, “Aurora”) very fine and better (2) £6000-8000


Harold Hamilton was born in Napier, New Zealand, and was a science graduate of Otago University. He joined Mawson’s Australasian Antarctic Expedition, aged 26, as a geologist and entomologist. Besides being employed on the New Zealand Geological Survey, he acted as entomological collector to the Dominion Museum at Wellington. A member of the Macquarie Island party, of which he was the Biologist, he spent two years there, gathering specimens and making observations, before visiting the Antarctic during the final cruise of the Aurora in the summer of 1913-14.

Hamilton joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve as a Temporary Sub-Lieutenant on 28 December 1916, becoming Temporary Lieutenant in January 1918. He attended a course at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, from 5 March 1917, after which he was posted for service in M.L.s in July 1917 and sent to the Admiralty Experimental Station at Parkeston Quay, Harwich, where he remained to the end of the war, returning to Wellington, New Zealand, in March 1919.

The medals are accompanied by an original copy of Hamilton’s expedition report
Ecological Notes and Illustrations of the Flora of Macquarie Island, published in Sydney in May 1926, with 19 plates and a preface by Sir Douglas Mawson (Hamilton prepared further reports on the Birds and Mammals found on the island); a 39-page typescript copy of Hamilton’s expedition diary for the period 7 January to 28 December, 1912; five copied portrait photographs of Hamilton on Macquarie Island, copied service record, and confirmation of entitlement to a single British War Medal.