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But of all, perhaps the most telling is the medal pictured top right – the Waterloo Medal – for Maitland was the commanding officer of the First Brigade of Guards at Quatre Bras and Waterloo.

It was the Guards who, at the climax of the battle and at the urging of Wellington (immortalised in art and in our headline), repulsed the advancing columns of the French Imperial Guard – the Grenadiers.

Their decisive action sealed the victory and, in honour of the event, King George IV renamed the brigade the ‘Grenadier Guards’ – who adopted the bearskin busby in imitation of their fallen foes.

The medals came to sale at Spink in London on May 9. An obvious target for the National Army Museum or the Guards’ regimental museum, you might think, but the big guns in the medal world are the private buyers.

“There was some interest from museums,” said specialist Richard Bishop, “but the market is very strong and once you get above about £30,000-50,000 it is dominated by private buyers.

“The market has soared in recent years, and it is serious collectors who have the deepest pockets – an ‘ordinary’ Victoria Cross will fetch £50,000 these days and the £100,000 barrier is often broken.

People are attracted to the personal history attached to the medals, whether it be a private in the Somme or an important general.”

The Maitland group was tentatively estimated at £25,000-30,000, but was contested by two private bidders and a dealer to £46,000 (plus 15% buyer’s premium), paid by one of the collectors.

The medals came – with much documentation – from a Maitland family source, together with several ‘related’ lots:

A group of five Crimean War medals to Lt.-Gen. Charles Maitland of the Grenadier Guards (Sir Peregrine’s son), including the French Legion of Honour and Turkish Order of the Medjidjie, raised £3600.
A group of five Crimean medals to Capt. Horatio Maitland (RN/ Navy Brigade), with the same French and Turkish awards, made £75.

A group of five to Admiral The Rt. Hon. Lord Frederic Kerr, RN, plus assorted documents made £2200, as did a group of six, including GCB of the Order of the Bath to Gen. Lord Mark Kerr of the 13th Light Infantry, with a copy of his book Paris in 1871 – his account as a prisoner of the Paris Commune.

“It’s a huge family with a great deal of history,” said Mr Bishop. “We even had some interest from the clan chief.”