Order of the Striped Tiger could have bidders roaring at Baldwin's this month
Numismatic giant Baldwin's is shaping up to present its Hong Kong Coin Auction (51) in two weeks' time with a large number of Chinese banknotes and coins going under the hammer, alongside a sprinkling of pieces from other nations.

Their medals section is also worth a look, however, boasting as it does a beautiful Order of the Striped Tiger (Fifth Class Neck Badge), in silver-gilt and enamels, 60mm, awarded to "Dr FSW O'Neill", in its original lacquer box.

The Chinese medals market is strong, with a form of the Order of the Double Dragon tripling its estimate recently at Morton and Eden.

The piece is in bright mint state though the exterior of the box is distressed. A descendant of O' Neill has written the following note:

"My grandfather FWS O' Neill, went to Manchuria in 1897 as a missionary of the Irish Presbyterian Church, at the age 27. In 1900 he could speak fluent Chinese and was not molested during the Boxer Rising, which aimed at expelling foreign influence.

"His house was wrecked but later a Chinese dictionary was returned to him. Again in 1904 he assumed Chinese dress (blue cotton), during the Russo-Japanese war. At one stage he was condemned to death by the Russians. He had blue eyes and did not expect to pass as Chinese.

Chinese order of the striped tiger
Striking... The Chinese order of the striped tiger

"In 1917 he was attached by the YMCA to the Chinese Labour Corps in France and was awarded the Order of the Striped Tiger on his return to China.

"From 1928 to 1931 he lived through the taking over of Manchuria by the Japanese and was allowed to continue his work until 1941, when he and his wife were interned in Kobe. They came home in 1942 in an exchange of diplomatic and religious prisoners.

"He died in 1952 at the age of 82."

FWS O'Neill was based in Fakumen, a town of about 15,000 people among foothills about two days walk from Mukden, the chief city of Manchuria, and the same from the Mongolian (indeterminate) frontier.

"He toured an area about equal to Northern Ireland taking about a month on foot for each journey. As far as I know the school and church he established in Fakumen still exist and he is still remembered in the area."

The striped tiger medal has been estimated at a fairly modest $5,000. But Chinese medals outdid their estimates at Baldwin's Hong Kong sale a year ago, so it's quite likely that this one will too.

Watch this space for more news of this exciting auction.


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