Rona Robinson Medal Webpv 25 06 24

The medal is engraved 'hunger strike' with WSPU coloured ribbon, £17,000 at Bonhams. 

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A medal awarded to a suffragette for going on hunger strike hammered down for £17,000 on June 7 at Bonhams (plus 28% buyer’s premium).

The medal was awarded by the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) to Rona Robinson (1884-1962), the first woman in the UK to gain a first-class honours degree in chemistry and later women’s rights activist.

Robinson was arrested twice in 1909 for obstruction – the first on August 20 when members of the WSPU threw missiles and smashed windows during a speech by Minister of War Richard Burdon Haldane in Liverpool. In prison, Robinson and the other members went on hunger strike for several days until their release.

Robinson was one of the first women to go on hunger strike for the suffragette movement, following Marion Wallace-Dunlop's decision to do so just six weeks prior.

Robinson’s second arrest came on October 4 when she and two others interrupted a speech by the chancellor of the University of Manchester – urging him to speak out against the forcible feeding of imprisoned Manchester alumni.

The silver and enamel medal featuring green, white and purple stripes is engraved on the top pin ‘For Valour’ with additional silver bars engraved with the dates ‘October 15th 1909’ and ‘August 20th 1909’ – the day of her arrest.

The medal is engraved ‘Hunger Strike’ on the obverse with Robinson’s name on the reverse.

Rona Robinson Medal 2 Webpv 25 06 24

Hunger strike medal engraved 'Rona Robinson', £17,000 at Bonhams. 

The auction house claimed Robinson received the award from Emmeline Pankhurst, along with Emily Wilding Davison, on December 9, 1909 at the Royal Albert Hall.

The medal came with an estimate of £10,000-15,000 and two later photographs of Robinson, one of which was marked ‘13 May 1938’ on the reverse.

The lot was one of a number of suffragette-related items for sale on the day. An autograph album containing around 200 signatures also sold for £8500 off a £4000-6000 estimate.