That top sum was set at Morton & Eden (see full story on p10-11), but fellow London salerooms Dix Noonan Webb (DNW) and Spink have also sold impressive VCs.
On December 5 Spink offered the medal group of Canadian hero Corporal Colin Barron, who won the VC for his bravery at Passchendaele in November 1917 (see News, ATG No 2317). Estimated at £150,000-180,000, it sold for Can$350,000 (or Can$420,000 plus premium – about £244,000).
It was sold in Canadian dollars because of Canadian export permits. Due to local cultural heritage laws the item remained in Canada with the vendor, but the lot could be offered in London.
The buyer was local in the end: the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. Its purchase was supported by Leslie Barron Kerr, Corp Barron’s great-granddaughter. The museum now holds five of the nine VCs awarded to Canadians for Passchendaele (it has 37 VC medal groups in total).
A day later, DNW offered the VC group awarded to Sir Henry Tombs (always known as Harry). He was a man described by the saleroom as “one of the great heartthrobs of the Victorian age”.
Sir Harry – at that time a major – won his VC for saving the life of Second Lieutenant James Hills during the Indian Mutiny in 1857.
Estimated at £200,000-250,000, the VC group made £240,000 (£288,000 with premium).
Bidding started at £200,000 and was a contest that drew a phone bidder and an agent in the room bidding on behalf of a UK private collector. The latter (understood not to be Lord Ashcroft, a regular buyer of VCs to display publicly in his Imperial War Museum gallery) was successful.