As so often happens, a spectacular price for a very rare object will bring another out of the woodwork.
Back in June an extraordinary bidding battle emerged for a
III medallion seen at
Martel Maides of St. Peter Port, Guernsey. Fashioned from a
silver disc under 2in (5cm) across, struck with the maker's mark
only WB and bright cut with foliage, it was
inscribed to one side The Reward of Merit and
to the other Obtained by P. Baker for the greatest
progress in arithmetic at Mr. Berry's Academy June 1818.
A last minute entry to the sale, expectations of £60-80 proved
wide of the mark as two bidders exchanged blows for a full five
minutes up to £11,000. The medal has made its way into a huge
collection of 4000 presentation medals in the USA, that includes a
section devoted to school reward medals.
So where was Mr. Berry's Academy? In the wake of the June sale
an advertisement was located in the Gazette de l'Isle de
Guernesey dated March 9, 1811.
Headed Boarding and Day School, it reads: "Mr Berry,
begs to inform the Ladies and Gentlemen of the Island, that he has
removed to Miss Smith's house, in Havilland-Street, near
George-Place, New Town, a situation which he flatters himself will
be found more convenient for the young Gentlemen attending his
Now, more information regarding Mr Berry has surfaced with the
emergence from a UK private collection of a second Reward of Merit
- this one engraved W. Berry's Academy, Vauvert Road,
Guernsey and, to the reverse, inscribed Obtained by
W. R. Ferguson for preeminence in Reading, Carriage & Poetry,
It is believed that the medals may have been made by a local
Guernsey silversmith and were marked with the recipient's initials.
This time Martel Maides have pitched their estimate at
Will lightening strike twice?
"We are going to be very interested to see the reaction to this
one, bearing in mind the requirement to place a higher estimate on
it to meet the vendor's expectations" said auctioneer James
Bridges. "But despite the publicity we achieved, we have not been
inundated with similar examples, so they are clearly as rare as the
buyer and underbidder in June thought at that time."
The sale will be held on September 19.
Tel: +44 (0) 1481 722700.
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