IN a week when the 1968 European Cup winner’s medal awarded to George Best sold for £130,000, the appearance of more blue-chip sporting memorabilia on the auction market has been announced.
While the George Best medal beat its £90,000-120,000 estimate
and was the highlight of the sale at Bonhams
Chester on October 20, next month Graham Budd
Auctions (in association with Sotheby's) will sell two
market 'firsts' - gold medals for the inaugural Association
Challenge Cup final of 1872 and the first official Test Match in
Both are unrecorded and both have emerged via connections in the
The F.A. Cup, the world's oldest competition in association
football, was first proposed by the influential sportsman and
administrator Charles William Alcock (1842-1907), an old Harrovian
who was secretary of the Football Association for 25 years from
1870-95. His landmark idea, based on his experience of inter-house
'sudden death' sporting competitions played at Harrow School, was
first embraced by 15 teams including Wanderers FC, comprising
mostly Old Harrovians and pupils from other public schools, of
which Alcock happened to be captain. Fittingly for him, the team
progressed to the final that was played against the Royal Engineers
on March 16, 1872 at the Kennington Oval before a crowd of 2000. A
goal by Wanderers' Morton Betts after 15 minutes proved to be the
The silver F.A. Cup trophy was first presented to Wanderers FC
on April 11 at their annual dinner at the Pall Mall Restaurant,
Charing Cross, when the triumphant players were also given medals,
the example offered here (hallmarked for William Joseph Taylor of
London) being the only known survival.
The identity of the recipient has been lost over the passage of
time. The vendor's grandfather was the proprietor of a jewellery
shop in the Seven Sisters Road in North London and bought the medal
as part of a consignment of scrap gold from house clearers in the
1950s. A keen football fan, he recognised the importance of the
medal which saved it from the melting pot. Grandfather's 1872 F.A.
Cup winner's medal then became a cherished family heirloom which on
November 8-9 carries an estimate of £30,000-50,000.
A more recent discovery within the trade is a medal presented to
the English cricketer Harry Charlwood on the occasion of the first
ever official Test Match that commenced on March 15, 1877 at the
Melbourne Cricket Ground. Australia won the game by 45 runs, a
result that, extraordinarily, was duplicated precisely when
Australia and England competed in the centenary match, played at
the MCG a century later.
The medal was presented by George Browne, a Melbourne architect
who designed the first permanent grandstand built at the MCG for
the 1877 series. Presumably a gold medal was given to every
visiting England player, and perhaps the home team too, but this is
the only known extant example. It is engraved to the Sussex
right-hand bat Henry Rupert James Charlwood (1846-1888) who played
at No.3 scoring 36 in the first innings and 13 in the second
innings. The 14 and a duck he scored in the following match (a
four-wicket victory for England) were his only other runs in Test
cricket. The medal is estimated at £10,000-20,000.
If a possible contender for that prize will be the Marylebone
Cricket Club, then they too are raising funds with an auction of
100 lots at Christie's South Kensington on
November 17. Following advice from the Arts & Library
Committee, the MCC Committee has authorised the sale of a number of
duplicate items from the collections. The majority of items will
come from the MCC Library collection. The proceeds will provide MCC
with funds required to enhance and conserve the core collection at
The first independent works on cricket ever published were verse
accounts of cricket matches, mock heroic poems in the genre
established by Alexander Pope's Rape of the Lock (1714).
Highlights of the MCC duplicate sale include not only the first of
these humorous poems, James Dance's Cricket. An Heroic
Poem, London  (estimate £10,000-15,000), but also three
other rare cricket poems which appeared as 18th century
John Duncombe's Surry [sic] Triumphant and John
Burnby's Kentish Cricketers were both written by clergymen
and both published in 1773, and MCC are offering a magnificent
volume, in which these two poems are bound together (estimate
A complete run of Wisden's in MCC boards will excite collectors
as will 1792, 1793 and 1796 editions of the rare scorebooks
produced by Samuel Britcher, an official scorer for Marylebone
Cricket Club, and the first person to produce an annual scorebook
on a regular basis.
William Epps's Cricket. A Collection of All the Grand
Matches played in England from 1771 to 1791, published in
Rochester, Kent, in 1799 was intended to supplement the
publications of Britcher which ran from 1790 to 1805. Considered by
many as the most important historical publication on cricket in the
late 18th century, this is estimated at £50,000-70,000.
By Roland Arkell
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