Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (17 & 18 July 2019)

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Date of Auction: 17th & 18th July 2019

Sold for £15,000

Estimate: £7,000 - £9,000

The rare Defence of Legations pair awarded to Able Seaman A. Peel, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, formerly valet to Mr. T.B. Clarke-Thornhill, Secretary at the British Legation in Pekin

China 1900, 1 clasp, Defence of Legations (A. Peel); British War Medal 1914-20 (A.A. 2204 A. Peel, A.B., R.N.V.R.) mounted for wear; Peking Siege Commemoration Medal, by J. Tayler Foot, 57mm, bronze, the obverse featuring the Ch’ien Men engulfed in flames, in the exergue a cannon, ‘junii xx - augusti xiv A.D. MDCCCC’ around, the reverse featuring Britannia and Germania standing facing, clasping hands, a Chinese female standing behind, with a dragon below, ‘Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin. Ichabod!’ around, the edge impressed ‘A. Peel’; together with the recipient’s related miniature dress medals, and a Great War Silver War Badge, the reverse officially numbered ‘R.N. 16389’, all housed in a contemporary A. H. Baldwin & Sons, London, fitted case, nearly extremely fine and very rare (3) £7,000-£9,000

Footnote

Provenance: Buckland, Dix & Wood, October 1993.

Arthur Peel was present throughout the siege of the British Legations in his capacity as personal valet to Mr. T. B. Clarke-Thornhill, Secretary in the Diplomatic Service and a noted numismatist whose collection of more than 17,000 coins was bequeathed to the British Museum.

The Peking Siege Commemoration Medal, designed by by J. Tayler Foot, is a most interesting piece and rarely encountered. They were struck at the instigation of Mr Arthur D. Brent, an employee of the Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank, who was himself present throughout the siege and whose medals were sold in these rooms on 25 February 1998. A limited number only were struck for those actually present at the siege. An interesting anecdote relating to the medal is recorded in ‘The Siege of the Peking Legations’ by Rev. Roland Allen M.A., Smith, Elder & Co., London 1901, pp 263-4:
“Encouraged by this good news (of impending relief) and full of high hopes, the general committee posted a notice at the Bell Tower offering a prize for designs for a Peking siege medal to be struck as a memorial of this strange experience. There were some three or four designs, one representing the burning of the Chien Men, one a Marine posted at a barricade, one three figures of Europe, America and Japan standing hand in hand on the head of a dragon, one a dragon breathing fire upon the Bell Tower, with the legend 'Ex ore Draconis liberati sumus,' and one or two others which I have forgotten. The motto which took the popular fancy was 'Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin,' but that really was a most unwarranted prophecy.”