The Jack Boddington Collection of Life Saving Medals

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Date of Auction: 6th December 2006

Sold for £850

Estimate: £700 - £800

Wreck of the ‘Chusan’ Medal 1874, an ornate silver medal 53mm. diameter, with a ropework border and elaborate anchor and life-belt suspension, obv. engraved scene of the paddle-steamer Chusan sinking near a harbour pier; reverse engraved ‘Subscriber’s Medal presented to John Crawford for the heroic efforts in saving life at the wreck of the Chusan in Ardrossen Harbour, 21st Octr. 1874’, below the inscription is the manufacturer’s mark, ‘T. R.& S.’ attractive, extremely fine, rare £700-800


The paddle-steamer Chusan was built in Glasgow for the Shanghai Steam Navigation Company and was intended for the China trade. On her first voyage from Glasgow to Shanghai, with a crew of 51, she developed a fault off Waterford and made to return to the Clyde for repairs. Overtaken by a storm, she made for shelter at Ardrossen. At about 5 o’clock in the morning of 21 October 1874, when just outside Ardrossen harbour, in high seas, she failed to respond and struck the Crinan Rock and broke in two. The harbour tug rescued 9 men from the after part and then returned with the lifeboat to rescue six more but 36 were drowned.

At a Court of Enquiry, four men were recommended for an award for ‘conspicuous and gallant efforts to save life’, but it was not specified in what form the award would take.