When he attended the last two-day Orders and Medals Research Society convention held in London, a chat led to an excellent Second World War medal group being consigned as the stand-out lot to his May 9 auction.
That sale is the first one Smith is organising under the new umbrella of Baldwin’s of St James’s. As reported in ATG No 2274, numismatists AH Baldwin & Sons began 2017 by splitting its auction business from its dealing arm and joined forces with St James’s Auctions.
While two coins sales have already been held under the Baldwin’s of St James’s banner (the first on February 4), this is the debut orders, decorations and medals offering.
It takes place at the Cavendish Hotel in Jermyn Street, which St James’s has used in the past.
Smith, whose base is The Strand office of Baldwin’s parent, Stanley Gibbons, joined Baldwin’s last year. He was asked to arrange a stand-alone medals auction “fairly quickly”, hence the catalogue “has only about 90 lots, although some of them are quite exciting”. The firm plans another medals sale in October or November, for which Smith already has “some spectacular things”.
The stand-out May 9 lot is not to be sniffed at: a triple Distinguished Service Cross medal group awarded to Captain Reginald Whinney of the Royal Navy, estimated at £15,000- 20,000. Whinney’s honours came for U-boat hunting and the sinking of three of them while on Atlantic convoy escort duty. He also took part in the destruction of the Bismarck.
“About 40 triple DSCs were awarded in the Second World War, which still makes the medal a fairly rare beast and they don’t come up much,” says Smith. Captain Whinney was a well-known Royal Navy personality, ending up as an admiral and defence attaché.
Another potential highlight is a Waterloo Medal awarded to John Haskett of the 16th Light Dragoons, who charged with Vandeleur’s Brigade in support of the Union Brigade (estimate £1800-2000).
“I think this one blows everyone’s socks off,” says the ebullient Smith. “It has come straight from the family and so has never seen the light of day before.”