Life Saving Awards from the Collection of John Wilson

Date of Auction: 25th March 2013

Sold for £700

Estimate: £700 - £800

Royal Society for the Protection of Life from Fire, 3rd type, silver, reverse inscribed, ‘To George Low, F.E, Condr. 13 for prompt and efficient service 3rd April 1851 (Case 1350)’, with Second Award clasp inscribed, ‘For Rescuing Life 18th July 1859 Case 5216’, swivel straight bar suspension, very fine, clasp scarce £700-800


Ex D.N.W. 23 June 2005.

Only 14 bars to the silver 3rd type medal awarded.

Extract from Saved from the Flames, by Roger Willoughby and John Wilson -

Case 1,350: Conductor (No. 13) George Low: Silver medallion.

Details: MB(1) - CM 15 April 1851 and QGM 28 April 1851: ‘For his prompt attendance and personal exertions in rescuing Mr Silverlock and family’. The Society’s Fifteenth Annual Report (1851, pp. 26-7) records the circumstances thus: ‘To Fire-Escape Conductor G Low, No. 13, the Society’s Silver Medallion, for the great promptitude displayed by him in attending, and the efficient services he rendered on the morning of the 3rd of April, 1851, at the fire on the premises of Messrs Gordon and Son, Rood Lane, Fenchurch Street. Upon his arrival he found that the fire had obtained complete possession of the premises, so that there appeared little probability of gaining access, and there were no less than four persons at the third floor window, where escape was cut off. The Conductor immediately raised his Escape, and succeeded in bringing the whole party to the ground in safety. The persons saved were Mr and Mrs Silverlock, their sister, and nephew. The following testimonials were endorsed upon the Conductor’s certificate: “The Conductor acted in a prompt and zealous manner, and saved four lives. [signed] John Silverlock”. “I was present when the Fire-escape arrived, and saw four persons brought down the upper ladder by the Conductor, to whom, I must say, too much praise cannot be given, for the lives of these persons were most assuredly preserved thereby. [signed] John Titchener, 145 Fenchurch Street”. “The conduct of the Fire-Escape man, I am able, from personal observation, to say, was most praiseworthy; he was promptly on the spot, and saved four lives. [signed] J Todhunter, Police Inspector”. The presentation of the award took place at the Society’s Anniversary Meeting in May 1851, details being reported in The Morning Chronicle (10 May 1851).

Case 5,216: Conductor George Low: Clasp to medal and testimonial on vellum.

Details: MB(1) - QGM 22 July 1859: ‘This rescue was for a fire at the Anchor Dining Room, Cheapside’. Low’s actions on this occasion resulted in an additional award from the local inhabitants, the presentation of which the Daily News (Tuesday 27 September 1859) recorded thus: ‘VALOUR REWARDED: Yesterday a public meeting of the inhabitants of the ward of Cheap was held in the vestry room of Bow church, presided over by the Rev M Vine, the vicar of the parish, for the purpose of presenting a gold medal and a purse of £16 to James [sic] Low, the conductor of one of the fire-escapes belonging to the Royal Society for the Preservation of Life from Fire, in reward of his intrepidity and gallantry on the occasion of a recent fire at the Anchor dining-rooms, Cheapside, when under divine providence he was the means of rescuing Mr Roberts, the proprietor, and thirteen other persons, from death. The room was crowded to excess, as the greatest interest was felt in the proceedings. The reverend chairman having pointed out the advantages which result from such displays of public gratitude as that in which they were engaged to those who confer benefits upon society, and passed a high eulogism upon the organisation and discipline of the servants of the Royal Society for the Protection of Life from Fire, called upon Mr Bennett, of Cheapside, who addressed the meeting in explanation of the occurrence which had given rise to the occasion which had brought them together. The meeting was also addressed by Mr Roberts himself, Mr Sampson Lowe [sic], the Secretary of the Society, Mr Deputy Lott, and other gentlemen, who spoke of the usefulness, the good service, and the claims of the Society’. See also Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper (Sunday 2 October 1859) and The Morning Chronicle (Monday 9 January 1860).

With copied research.