The Jack Boddington Collection of Life Saving Medals

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Date of Auction: 6th December 2006

Sold for £800

Estimate: £800 - £1,000

A rare Mercantile Marine Service Association pair to Chief Officer J. S. Taylor, Merchant Navy

Life Saving Cross, a large gold cross pattée, 44 x 44mm., obv. with engraved arms and inscribed, ‘In Recognition of His Bravery in attempting to Rescue a Shipmate on 25th September 1862’; rev. arms set with four rose diamonds and inscribed, ‘P.S.N. Coy’s. S.S. “Liguria” presented to J. Scott Taylor. 2nd Officer, by First & Second Class Passengers’, fitted with loop for neck wear, this stamped, ‘K. Co.’, in damaged case; Mercantile Marine Service Association Medal, silver, rev. inscribed, ‘To Mr J. Taylor, Late Chf. Officr. S.S. Cotopaxi, for Heroic Devotion to Duty when his vessel had been in Collision and when she subsequently foundered in Smyth’s Channel, April 15 1889’, with silver buckle on ribbon, in case of issue, extremely fine (2) £800-1000


Rescue attempt on the S.S. Liguria: ‘Monday the 25th has a bad memory in the records of this voyage .... Our weather was very squally ... in a few minutes black clouds, wind and a deluge of rain. In the afternoon some of the sailors were busy getting up one of the new sails, when by some means the running gear got foul and a seaman went out on the boom to get it clear, while doing this a sudden squall sent it over to one side with great violence and the Captain observing this from the bridge sung out to the men below to hold on to the stays to keep it steady, by some means his orders were misunderstood or not promptly obeyed and the rising wind jerked the boom over with such force that the poor fellow could hold on no longer but was flung clear over the side into the water, he instantly rose and struck out bravely and several life buoys were at once flung over towards him but the vessel going at full speed he was quickly left far behind. The cry of “Man Overboard” was raised and the Second Officer (Mr Taylor) jumped into a boat with eight volunteers and impatient at the delay in lowering the ropes were cut away, the little boat tossing on the waves like a cork. ...’ Despite the volunteers valiant attempts to find their comrade, they were ultimately unsuccessful and were themselves with difficulty recovered. ‘The brave Second Officer being the last to be pulled on deck. Our good Captain Conlan was so overcome that he embraced him and wept like a child ...’ As a result of the volunteers sterling efforts, ‘A movement was soon made to reward those who had so bravely done their duty, and about £60 was collected for this purpose. When after a respectable sum had been placed to the credit of each seaman, it was decided to present the officer with a massive gold Maltese cross, engraved with a suitable inscription to be purchased on our arrival at Melbourne’. (Extract from the diary of the astronomer Charles Grover, a passenger on the voyage)

Sinking of the S.S. Cotopaxi: On 6 March 1889, the Cotopaxi departed the Mersey under the command of Captain W. H. Hayes, with J. S. Taylor as Chief Officer. Disaster struck on the evening of 8 April. ‘At 8pm. she was approaching Cape Froward when the Captain, who had been on the bridge for some forty hours owing to the intricate navigation and the prevailing misty weather, retired to the chartroom after giving instructions to be called if anything was sighted. About three hours later there came the noise of rending iron, accompanied by a great deal of shouting, and both Captain and Second Officer rushed to the bridge to find that the German steamer Olympia had struck the Cotopaxi on her starboard side and the liner was listing heavily already, whilst the Olympia had her bows badly damaged’. For five days the captain and crew managed to keep the Cotopaxi afloat long enough to be within reach of land. In thier efforts, numerous feats of heroism were performed, including, ‘... The Chief Officer made his way into the coal bunkers in an endeavour to stop the aperture through which the water was entering. ...’ Through the professionalism of the captain, his officers and crew, all 202 passengers were safely removed from the ship as it finally went down on 15 April. (Extract taken from Sea Breezes, Vol. VII, 1925).

Sold with copied research.