A hoard of more than 1,000 military medals is up for auction in what could be the biggest sale of its kind Sheffield has ever seen.
The collection – set to fetch tens of thousands of pounds – was amassed by an enthusiast who lived in the city and had a passion for researching the stories behind the people who originally received the medals he bought.
Dating from the mid-1800s to the 1991 Gulf War, many of the medals were awarded to soldiers from the York and Lancashire Regiment, including examples from the Boer War and World Wars One and Two.
John Morgan, auctioneer and specialist valuer at Sheffield Auction Gallery in Heeley, where the collection is being sold, said: “This is the largest single-owner medal collection we have ever handled. My view is that it’s in excess of 1,000 medals – but it might be closer to 2,000.”
The sale is being handled in two halves. The first auction is on March 4, and the second on June 9.
John said that the collector, who has died, spent a ‘significant amount of time’ seeking out valuable medals.
Highlights include two World War One distinguished service order groups, military cross groups, multiple distinguished conduct medals and groups plus military medal groups from many wars.
A single Crimea medal to Trumpet Major Richard B Davis of the 13th Light Dragoons, dating from 1854, is considered a standout. Trumpeter Davis was a survivor of the Charge of the Light Brigade, in which just over 600 British cavalry advanced on Russian forces.
He made it through the guns only to have his horse killed while returning, and retreated on foot. Mr Davis, who was born in India, died in Sheffield in 1902 aged 74.
When the collection first arrived it was ‘overwhelming’, John revealed.
“To collect so many in such an ordered fashion is not common. We categorised each by type, and those there were most of, such as World War One medals, we started listing. While that was being done we started to look for significant medals. We haven’t finished by a long shot.”
The gallery has called the lots the Dore Collection – a generic name, as the collector’s surviving family wishes to remain anonymous. Auctioneers are trying to keep the honours together by recipient. “The value is attached to the person who received the medal, and what they did,” said John. “I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the medals or medal groups fetched thousands.”