It has already raised £11,000 from individuals in the past week and it hopes the generosity will continue ahead of the Bonhams Knightsbridge timed online sale which ends on October 3.
The library’s digital and marketing officer Naomi Brown said the museum is “overjoyed” about the money raised so far and “overwhelmed by the sheer generosity of people from around the corner and around the globe (we have received donations from as far away as Australia!)”.
The hunger strike medal was awarded by the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) to Maud Joachim in 1909.
The medal comes in its original purple box with green velvet lining, and the wording on the inside lid, printed in gold on white silk states: "Presented to Maud Joachim by the Women’s Social and Political Union in recognition of a gallant action, whereby through endurance to the last extremity of hunger and hardship a great principle of political justice was vindicated.”
The museum has been appealing on social media and Sue John, director of operations, resources and enterprise at the library, tweeted: “This hunger strike medal was awarded to Maud Joachim in 1909. She was arrested in Dundee with others for interrupting a meeting held by Churchill.
“In prison she became the first Suffragette to undergo hunger strike in Scotland. That is why this medal is so special, rare and significant.”
The medal is estimated at £12,000-18,000.
To make a donation visit womenslibrary.org.uk
Maud Joachim (1869-1947) was the niece of Joseph Joachim, the violinist and composer. She allied herself with the radical wing of the suffrage movement by joining the WSPU in 1907 and was first arrested in February 1908 after taking part in the ‘pantechnicon raid’ on the House of Commons, leading to six week’s imprisonment. She spent another three months in jail after taking part in the deputation from Caxton Hall to the House of Commons on June 30, 1908.
In October 1909 she was arrested in Dundee and during her subsequent stay in prison she became the first to undergo a hunger strike in Scotland. Over the next few years she was in and out of prison including on March 1912 when she was sentenced to six months. She subsequently went on hunger strike again and was forcibly fed for two days before being released.
The medal is part of a huge 109-lot group of Suffragette memorabilia amassed by collector Lesley Mees from the 1980s.
Mees said: “I began collecting suffrage material while researching for a PhD on women’s history. It was at a time when contemporary literature, such as books, pamphlets and newspapers on the women’s suffrage movement was relatively abundant and affordable.
“I became increasingly fascinated by the bravery of the courageous women who were prepared to risk their lives, their health and sometimes their position in society to stand up for their rights, many of whom were brutalised by the legal system.”
Read another preview of other items in the sale.