Lord Grenfell's Russian medals defeat expectations at Spink

Spink's Orders, Decorations, Campaign Medals and Militaria auction concluded yesterday, and as we expected Lord Grenfell's collection raised some impressive prices.

Firstly, there was a set of Russian medals: a sash badge and star of the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky from Imperial Russia, Civil Division with a set of Insignia, by Eduard of St. Petersburg.

The gold and enamel badge is 53mm across and the star is silver, silver-gilt and enamel with the manufacturer's name and mark on the back.

Russian Imperial Order of the White Eagle - Lord Grenfell
Lord Grenfell's Russian Imperial Order of the White Eagle

Then there was a sash badge and star for the Imperial Order of the White Eagle, Civil Division. The badge, featuring the dramatic and striking black eagles is 90mm in length including the crown suspension and cast in gold and enamel.

These beautiful awards were bestowed upon Lord Sir Francis Grenfell on the occasion of the Coronation of Tsar Nicholas II, 26.5.1896.

As Oliver Pepys, medals specialist at Spink told us: "Provenance has proven to be crucial to the value of Russian medals in the strong recent market, and in this case it is exceptional.

"Lord Grenfell's medals never left his family and this auction is a wonderful opportunity to acquire the collection."

Order of St Alexander Nevsky
The Order of St Alexander Nevsky greatly impressed bidders

The Order of the White Eagle sold for £45,600, within its estimate range. But surprisingly it was topped by the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky, listed at just £15,000-20,000, which sold for a stunning £60,000. It is a beautiful example.

The medals were not the only fascinating items in the sale belonging to Lord Grenfell. Perhaps even more eye-catching was his Field Marshal's Baton.

The main baton is covered in Imperial purple velvet and studded with eighteen gold lions and the base is inscribed 'From His Majesty Edward VII King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland to Field Marshal the Rt. Hon. The Lord Grenfell, G.C.B., G.C.M.G. 1908.'.

It is surmounted by a superbly modeled gold equestrian figure of St. George slaying the Dragon.

Lord Grenfell's Field Marshalls Baton
St George defeats the dragon - and the baton's listing

Oliver Pepys put in context just what a rare opportunity this is:

"These batons very rarely appear on the market, and this is the first since 2004 to be offered anywhere in London. Most are still with the original owner's families or in museums. Only about 10 batons have been offered since WWII."

This context was not lost on collectors, who raised the baton above its £35,000-45,000 listing to sell for £54,000.

Collectors are naturally fascinated by unique and attractive collectibles with military overtones like this. We had the privilege of selling a deep red sash which had belonged to Napoleon not so long ago.

Collectors frustrated to have missed out on such a great piece of Napoleonic history will be pleased to know that we currently have a letter written by the Emperor marking a key moment in the Napoleonic wars available right now.


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