Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (17 & 18 May 2016)

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Date of Auction: 17th & 18th May 2016

Sold for £2,800

Estimate: £2,000 - £2,600

The K.B.E., C.B., C.M.G. group of seven awarded to Colonel Sir Charles Arden-Close, Royal Engineers - Director-General of the Ordnance Survey of the United Kingdom

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, K.B.E. (Civil) Knight Commander’s 1st type set of insignia, neck badge, silver-gilt and enamel; breast star, silver, silver-gilt and enamel; The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, C.B. (Civil) Companion’s breast badge conversion to a neck badge, silver-gilt, hallmarks for London 1914; The Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael & St. George, C.M.G. Companion’s breast badge conversion to a neck badge, silver-gilt and enamel; Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902, 2 clasps, Cape Colony, Orange Free State (Capt. C. F. Close (C.M.G.) R.E.); British War Medal 1914-20 (Col. C. F. Close); Belgium, Order of Leopold I, Officer’s breast badge with swords, silver-gilt and enamel, some enamel damage to reverse, rosette on ribbon, these three mounted as worn; Spain, Royal Geographical Society Medal, gilt and enamel, no ribbon; together with two family seals, gold and carnelian; medals in Spink, London leather case, very fine and better (10) £2000-2600


K.B.E. London Gazette 7 January 1918. ‘Colonel Charles Frederick Close, C.B., C.M.G., Director General of the Ordnance Survey of the United Kingdom.’

London Gazette 3 June 1916. ‘Colonel Charles Frederick Close, late Royal Engineers, Director General, Ordnance Survey.’

London Gazette 20 June 1899. ‘Captain Charles Frederick Close, Royal Engineers, late British Representative on the Nyasa-Tanganyika Boundary Commission.’

Charles Frederick Close was born in St. Saviour’s, Jersey, on 10 August 1865, the son of Major-General Frederick Close, of Shanklin. He was educated at a dame-school in Rochester, then Thompson’s School, Jersey, followed by a crammer, after which he went to the Royal Military Academy in 1882. In 1884 he passed out first, with the Pollock Gold Medal, and was commissioned into the Royal Engineers and joined the School of Military Engineering in Chatham. After a year in Gibraltar, 1886, he was first attached and later commanded the Balloon Section in Chatham, 1887-88. This was followed by survey work in Burma. In 1895 he was posted to West Africa, to survey the boundary between the Niger Coast Protectorate and German Cameroons. He was appointed to the Ordnance Survey in 1898 and oversaw the survey of the boundary between British Central Africa and Northern Rhodesia with German East Africa. For his services he was awarded the C.M.G. In 1900 he led a small survey detachment to South Africa and saw action at the Vet River and Zand River. During 1902-05 he was chief instructor in surveying at the S.M.E. at Chatham. In 1905 he was appointed head of the topographical (geographical from 1907) section of the general staff at the War Office. Due to his experience in South Africa where few worthwhile maps existed, Close and his directors in MI4 took the precaution of preparing maps for probable European theatres of war. Due to this foresight, the British Army entered the Great War better prepared with maps than in any previous conflict. Close was appointed Director-General of the Ordnance Survey in 1911 and retired in 1922. For his services as Director-General at this critical time, he was created a C.B. in 1916 and K.B.E. in 1918.

He served on the Council of the Royal Geographical Society, 1904-40; was Victoria Gold medallist, 1927, and President of the Society, 1927-30. He was Chairman of the National Committee for Geography; General Secretary of the International Geographical Union, serving as President, 1934-38. As a member of the Palestine Exploration Fund, he was first Treasurer, 1919-30, then Chairman, 1930-45. Close was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1919 and received an honorary degree Sc.D. from Cambridge in 1928. He was also an honorary member of the Belgian, Dutch, German, Russian, Spanish and Swiss geographical societies. In addition to his British awards, he was awarded the Belgian Order of Leopold and the Afghan Order of Astaur. In 1938 he changed his name by deed poll in in order to comply with the terms of a bequest. He died in Winchester on 19 December 1952. His contribution to cartography and the history of the Ordnance Survey was recognised in 1980, with the formation of the The Charles Close Society - for the study of Ordnance Survey Maps.

His publications include: Text Book of Topographical and Geographical Surveying, 1905; The Early Years of the Ordnance Survey, 1926; The Map of England, 1932; Geographical By-Ways, 1947.

With the book,
Geographical By-Ways, and some other Geographical Essays, by Col. Sir Charles Arden-Close, K.B.E., C.B., C.M.G., Sc.D., F.R.S., sometime President of the Royal Geographical Society, 1947. Also with copied research.