John Vernon ‘Jack’ Webb was always destined to be a collector of medals and militaria. On 5 June 1944 he was on a troop ship preparing to take part in the D-Day landings. As the soldiers around him were ordered to remove their regimental badges Jack hurried around picking up one of each regiment. Even on the eve of the greatest military invasion of Europe, Jack was not going to miss a chance to add to his collection.
From an early age Jack had a deep love of the military; his father and uncles had all fought during the Great War, and he volunteered as soon as he was old enough in 1942, initially in the Essex Regiment, before joining the Royal Berkshire Regiment for their landing on Juno beach on D-Day. Later he was transferred to the 5th Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment, and took part in their disastrous assault crossing of the River Seine. Jack set off with 60 members of ‘A’ Company but, after a night of bloody fighting, dawn broke to reveal only 20 men still alive, of which only four were not wounded.
After the Second War Jack followed his dream of becoming an antiques dealer, setting up his first shop in Hornsey, before moving on to Camden Passage. During a long and successful career Jack always bought antiques that intrigued or delighted him. He never specialised and always had an eye for the unusual or exquisitely made.
In the early years Jack would attend all the auctions around London. Still fascinated by all things military he started to collect medals which at the time were poorly regarded and often destined for the scrap bin. He quickly started to build themed collections: the Egypt and Sudan Medal, particularly those with the clasp Abu Klea; medals to the Middlesex and Essex regiments; and his most loved collection, medals to the City of London Imperial Volunteers. Alongside his collecting Jack loved military research. He was never happier than when he was at the Records Office poring over regimental diaries, researching the medals of his collection. This research led to him writing several books including The Abu Klea Rolls and Recipients of Bars to the Military Cross, as well as co-authoring a history of the Royal Flying Corps, with particular emphasis on the non commissioned officers and airmen.
Among the highlights of the Militaria element of the sale is an excessively rare Officer’s First Pattern ‘Uniform’ Gorget dating from Reign of Queen Anne in gilt brass which is estimated at £5,000-£7,000; while a superb 77th (East Middlesex) Regiment Officer’s Shako Plate dating from 1812-16 is expected to fetch £1,000-£1,400.
Medals include the South Africa 1877-79 War Medal awarded to Private Thomas Moffatt, 2nd Battalion, 24th Foot who served in “B” Company at the defence of Rorke’s Drift which carries an estimate of £26,000-32,000, and a Zulu War Medal to Captain G V Wardell, 1/24th Foot, who was killed in action at the Battle of Isandhlwana in 1879 is estimated at £18,000-22,000, while a rare Boer War R.R.C. pair awarded to Nursing Sister Janet Elizabeth Skillman is expected to fetch £2,000-2,600.
Viewing of the auction will be by appointment only. Prospective bidders are encouraged to consult DNW’s website (www.dnw.co.uk) where all lots are illustrated and further condition reports can be requested if required. Customers are able to bid online (DNW make no additional charge for this service) or leave commission bids prior to the auction.
FORTHCOMING SALES AT DNW
THURSDAY, AUGUST 20 – THE JACK WEBB COLLECTION OF MEDALS AND MILITARIA
THURSDAY, AUGUST 27 – BRITISH TOKENS, TICKETS AND PASSES
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9 – THE CHISLEHURST COLLECTION
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15 – JEWELLERY, WATCHES, ANTIQUITIES AND OBJECTS OF VERTU
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16 – COINS & HISTORICAL MEDALS
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 17 - ORDERS, DECORATIONS, MEDALS AND MILITARIA
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 14 – INDIAN COINS AND HISTORICAL MEDALS
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 28 – BRITISH, IRISH AND WORLD BANKNOTES
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 4 – COINS AND HISTORICAL MEDALS
Free online bidding is available is www.dnw.co.uk
For more information, please call 020 7016 1700
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NOTES TO EDITORS:
Dix Noonan Webb – a brief history
In 1991, its first year of trading, the company held three medal auctions and sold 1,200 lots for a total hammer price of £553,000. Two years later it opened a coin department which also auctions commemorative medals and tokens and in 2015 DNW added jewellery to its sales calendar. In 2018, it set up a standalone banknotes department and expanded into premises next door. In the same year, DNW achieved a total hammer price of £11,676,580 and the total number of lots across all departments was 20,273. To date the company has sold in excess of 300,000 lots totalling £155 million.
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