Rare George Cross medal braves the auctioneer's hammer

Morton and Eden's sale of insignia today (June 10), dubbed the Durham Orders sale, is offering an important range of Russian, Belgian, Greek and British Insignia. Specifically those awarded to John George Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham (1792-1840).

This will be followed by a larger British and World Orders, Medals and Decorations Russian Medals, Badges, Orders, Decorations and Coins.

Russian St Andrew Badge
Russian St Andrew Sash Badge and Breast Stars

Let's take a look at the very first lot of the first sale, and the very last of the second. The first lot is an extraordinary piece created by Emanuel Pannasch. The 1835 badge has been carefully crafted in gold and enamel, presenting a black enamelled Imperial eagle with blue enamelled St Andrew's Cross bearing the crucified figure of St. Andrew in natural coloured enamels.

Accompanied by a cloth and bullion breast star depicting a double-headed eagle of St Andrew on a yellow cloth background (as originally issued) and a breast star made in London to match the main badge, which was created in St Petersburg, the whole lot is expected to bring £140,000-180,000.

The number of collectors in Russia is increasing, so it will be interesting to see if there is competition to look after this piece of the country's history.

The final lot in the second auction is an Exchange Empire Gallantry Medal George Cross, O.B.E. and Military Cross Group awarded to Major Douglas Alexander Brett. The main gallantry medal was won by Brett for his actions in 1934.

George Cross Major Brett
Major Brett's George Cross (left), OBE and Military Cross

At the conclusion of a cricket match in Chittagong, Bengal, a group of Europeans were attacked by young Hindu terrorists with two bombs and a revolver. The bombs were ineffectual, but one of the young men charged the party firing his revolver.

Major Brett, though unarmed, tackled the man and pinned his gun to the ground.

The complete lot, which also contains a set of medal miniatures (Military Cross, George V, Empire Gallantry Medal, British War and Victory Medals, Silver Jubilee 1935, Coronation 1937) is offered with an estimate of £15,000-20,000.

The two auctions, consisting of 380 lots, take place at Sotheby's auction house in London.


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