A fine Collection of Life Saving Awards

Date of Auction: 12th December 2012

Sold for £1,450

Estimate: £1,000 - £1,200

A Sea Gallantry Medal group of three awarded to Quartermaster Robert Matthews, S.S. Cymric, awarded three life saving medals for saving life on the St. Cuthbert, 1908

Sea Gallantry Medal, E.VII.R., small 2nd issue, silver (Robert Matthews, “St. Cuthbert” 3rd February 1908); Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners Royal Benevolent Society, silver (R. Matthews, S.S. “Cymric” Feb. 3 1908) with 5th type ‘double-dolphin’ suspension, silver buckle on ribbon; Humane Society of Massachusetts Medal, bronze, reverse inscribed, ‘To Robert Matthews of S.S. Cymric for bravery in saving life at sea. Feb. 3rd 1908’, last with slack suspension, mounted for wear, second with minor edge bruising, good very fine and better (3) £1000-1200


Ex Denham Collection 1971; Edrington Collection 1980, and Fevyer Collection, D.N.W. 25 September 2008.

‘The St. Cuthbert was abandoned on fire in the N. Atlantic, her boats having been destroyed. The White Star liner Cymric bore down to render assistance but at first it was considered too dangerous to launch a boat owing to the high sea. Eventually the Chief Officer and a crew of volunteers manned a life-boat and in three trips rescued 41 men - 14 were lost. The rescue occupied 10 hours in the face of a heavy gale and high dangerous sea with occasional blinding snow storms and the final trip was made in the darkness’.

The British steamship St. Cuthbert, en route from Antwerp to New York, was destroyed by fire off Cape Sable on 3/4 February 1908. For their services in bravely rescuing most of those on board, the Board of Trade awarded Chief Officer John Stivey a Silver Medal for Gallantry and a binocular glass; the seven volunteers, including Matthews were each awarded the Silver Medal for Gallantry and a gratuity of £3. Stivey in addition was awarded gold medals from the Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society and the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners Royal Benevolent Society. The volunteers were each awarded a Silver Medal from the latter society and all received Bronze Medals from the Humane Society of Masssachussetts. The Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners Royal Benevolent Society awarded Captain William Finch of the Cymric a pair of marine binoculars. With copied research.