History is the new ‘cookery’ on TV, and the adventures of Rifleman Sharpe have brought the Peninsular War to more general notice, but that is hardly enough to explain why military medals, for all their echoes of glory, have become a real boom area in the antiques and collectables market.
The phenomenon was seen at Gilding's sale, although the low
estimates on a 44-lot hoard found in a house clearance - "in
cupboards, under beds, everywhere" said Mark Gilding - reflected
the fact that they were for sale without reserve.
None of the top five, all relating to Wellington's battles, was
estimated at more than £500.
When battle commenced at the Market Harborough rooms, bids from
dealers - possibly on behalf of collectors - were rather nearer the
prevailing market prices.
The Waterloo Medal, top right, awarded to 20-year-old Lieutenant
Thomas Reynolds, wounded in the battle serving with the 73rd Foot
(later the Black Watch) sold at £6200.
The Peninsular War featured in good prices for General Service
Medals. One with Nive, Nivelle, St Sebastian and Vittoria bars,
bottom right, awarded to Lieutenant Austin of the 42nd Foot took
£3400. Others included £3000 on one with a Toulouse bar and £2800
on one with an Albuherra Bar and Martinique Bar (1794 and not a
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