Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (9 & 10 May 2018)

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Date of Auction: 9th & 10th May 2018

Sold for £8,500

Estimate: £4,000 - £5,000

A rare and well-documented inter-war Polar Medal awarded to Horace William Sandford for services in the Antarctic 1925-35

Polar Medal 1904, G.VI.R., bronze, 1 clasp, Antarctic 1925-35 (Horace William Sandford) nearly extremely fine


One of just three bronze awards for “Antarctic 1925-35”, all of which were announced in The London Gazette on 7 October 1941.

Horace William Sandford, who was born at Dartmouth, Devon in 1903, spent eight seasons, including winter voyages, in Antarctica, serving in the Discovery from August 1925 to October 1927; in the William Scoresby from April 1929 to April 1930 and, more or less continuously, in the Discovery II from April 1930 to June 1935, being variously employed as a stoker, greaser or fireman (Board of Trade Continuous Certificate of Discharge refers).

Sold with a fine array of original documentation and photographs, including:

i. The recipient’s Board of Trade Continuous Certificate of Discharge (No. R36630), with relevant stamps confirming extensive services on ‘Scientific Research Southern Sea’ between 1925-35.

ii. Booklet entitled The Work of the Royal Research Ship “Discovery” in the Dependencies of the Falkland Islands, by A. C. Hardy (Reprinted from the Geographical Journal, vol. LXXII No. 3, September 1928), the front cover inscribed in ink, ‘To H. Sandford, with best wishes from the author, A.C.H.’; and another booklet entitled Views of South Georgia Dependency of the Falkland Islands [not dated].

iii. A superb photograph album containing approximately 250 images from Antarctica, subject matter varying from crew members to local wildlife and scenery.

iv. Another highly impressive photograph album of a similar nature, with also approximately 250 images, this ending with a section of relevant newspaper cuttings and other ephemera, including several “everlasting” silver leaves from Table Mountain, each contained in a commemorative card folder, two or three of them having been painted with pictures of the Discovery II or William Scoresby arriving at the Cape in the early 1930s.

v. An old cigarette tin containing a quantity of largely Antarctica-themed photographs, and a series of negatives in a separate envelope.

vi. A letter from a member of the Byrd Antarctic Expedition II, dated in the Bay of Whales, 2 February 1935, on expedition notepaper and addressed to Sandford on the Discovery II, the envelope stamped ‘Little America, Antarctica, Jan. 30 12-M 1935’ with two U.S. postage stamps, including Byrd Antarctic Expedition II 3 cents; together with four envelopes addressed to Sandford on Discovery II between 1932-34, with appropriate stamps, etc., from Perth, Melbourne and Cape Town.

vii. A letter of reference signed by the Chief Engineer of the Discovery II, dated at Port Said, Egypt on 14 May 1935, in which Sandford is described as a ‘very handy man with tools.’

viii. An autograph album which includes sections dedicated to ‘signatures of the inhabitants of Tristan da Cunha’ and fellow crew members from Antarctic days, together with later additions from the 1950s period.

ix. Central Chancery investiture letter and ticket, the former dated 9 April 1942 and the latter 12 May 1942; together with a congratulatory letter from the Town Clerk of the Borough of Dartmouth, this dated 7 February 1942.

x. Antarctic Club Membership Certificate (No. 152), inscribed to ‘H. W. Sandford’ for ‘Discovery investigations 1925-35’ and dated 9 July 1947, with related membership booklet, membership list and forwarding letter; together with the tip of a whaling harpoon.