Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Although this medal was not issued until 1847 and awarded retrospectively to those who claimed them, it is clasps denoting actions from 1793-1840, that boost value. The rarer the action, the fewer the number of clasps.

John Gaze was quartermaster of the 36-gun frigate HMS Nymphe when she engaged the French frigate LaCleopatre on June 18, 1793. He was the recipient of just one of four Nymphe 18 June 1793 clasps, making his medal a great rarity.

Gaze would later follow his captain onto the famous HMS Indefatigable, receiving further clasps titled Indefatigable 20 April 1796 and Indefatigable Jany 13 1797 (Midshipman) and Algiers (Master of the Queen Charlotte). Estimated at £15,000- 20,000, it sold via thesaleroom.com to a private collector at £32,000.

The NGSM for William Simpson who served on HMS Boadicea sold for £17,000 on the phone to a private collector, over two times top estimate. It too is a rarity: the clasp of Boadicea 18 Septr 1810 is one of only 15 issued.

Trafalgar extras

It might be assumed that any Battle of Trafalgar NGSM would command a higher price. In fact, although they do command a certain premium, with 1710 clasps issued to veterans of the 1805 battle they are relatively common. Something extra is required to spark a bidding battle.

The ‘something extra’ that persuaded a private collector to bid £8000 (estimate £2800-3200) for a Trafalgar NGSM at Bosley’s was the recipient, Thomas Burnett. He not only fought on ‘The Fighting Temeraire’ but the medal was accompanied by an old letter reading: This Trafalgar medal was awarded to Thomas Burnett for him having taken part (on board the Tameraire) in the Battle of Trafalgar Oct 21st 1805. Marcia secured it from her uncle and gave it to me Oct 28th 1853 Emily Tollet.

During the battle the 98-gun Temeraire followed the Victory in the line. The ship’s fighting spirit would earn its nickname.

On April 10 an NGSM with a single clasp for Trafalgar is estimated at £1000-1500 at the Denhams saleroom in Horsham, West Sussex. It was awarded to James Hinds aged just 16 for service on HMS Spartiate.

Plymouth saleroom Eldreds (20% buyer’s premium inc VAT) sold a Trafalgar Spartiate NGSM to Edward Knapman for £16,500 last November. It has another clasp for St Sebastian, a gunboat action with 288 clasps awarded.