Morton and Eden's medal sales are always an exciting time of year for collectors with some extremely high quality examples going under the hammer.
Their winter auction on November 30 was signalled in most places with the headline piece being a Military Cross set awarded very recently for services in Iraq. In the event, this was one of the few pieces that did not sell.
This was not wholly surprising - sometimes collectors are reluctant about buying medals from soldiers who are not only still alive but in their prime. It will remain a strong investment, but may not be sold for its full value for a while yet.
Instead, as we noted, the star performers were always likely to be Russian medals. Morton and Eden have brought some extraordinary pieces to their previous sale and attracted competitive bidders for them, achieving a world record price for an Order of St Andrew in the summer.
In this case, the two most notable lots were both examples of the Order of St Anne (by some accounts the mother of the Virgin Mary), First Class, in the form of sash badges:
Firstly, a sash badge, in gold and enamels, by Kämmerer and Keibel, St Petersburg, dated 184- (probably 1848 or 1849) on a suspension ring, without the maker's mark but with the Imperial Warrant marked beneath the enamel on the top arm of the reverse.
This boasted high quality workmanship, with thin profile red enamel arms, and is in good extremely fine condition. Eager bidders quickly doubled its higher estimate of £15,000 to sell it for £32,000 ($50,500).
But the top lot was another example: a privately-made sash badge in gold, diamonds and enamels, by ИО (or ОИ), St Petersburg, dated 1856 according to the marks on the suspension ring.
It is of 'bulbous' form with a central painted enamel portrait of the Saint surrounded by sixteen diamonds, spandrels and riband carrier also set with diamonds and angles of reverse embellished with scroll engraving.
Despite some very slight enamel loss at top edge of cross on reverse, it is of excellent quality and in good extremely fine condition. It started with a confident estimate of £30,000-40,000, but bidders shrugged this off and competed furiously, with the final price being a remarkable £150,000 ($236,550).
All signs point to Russian collecting in general and Russian medal collecting in particular being on the up, and investors would be well-advised to look out for such awards in upcoming sales.
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