A gold and enamel pin displaying the honours of General Rowland Hill – £7800 at Hansons.

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That seems to have been the solution for Napoleonic war hero General Rowland Hill, 1st Viscount Hill (1772-1842), who by the end of his career had picked up the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, the Portuguese Order of the Tower and Sword, the Peninsular Cross and the Hanoverian Guelphic Order.

It was around 1828, when he became commander-in-chief of the British Army, that Hill ordered a weight-saving bar brooch. Measuring just 2in (5cm) across, it contains four miniature gold and enamel representations of his four honours.

The brooch was consigned by a Derbyshire descendant to local saleroom Hansons (17.5% buyer’s premium), where it was offered in the July 24 Coins, Medals and Militaria sale estimated at £500- 1000. After competitive bidding featuring two museums and a Hill descendant, it sold for a hammer price of £7800 to a UK private buyer on a commission bid.

Boer War ‘time capsule’


A Second Boer War archive sold at £4000.

Another highlight of the Etwall sale was a Second Boer War archive sold for £4000 to a UK private buyer on the phone.

It was an excellent ‘time capsule’ example, containing not just a medal relating to 5959 Sgt Robert Oliver of the South African Constabulary but a wide array of his effects. Items such as a slouch hat with green band, a leather ammunition bandolier, constabulary badge with feathered plume and two pairs of riding gloves were included in the lot.

However, probably the outstanding element was an album of 100 original photos from the 1899-1902 conflict together with 80 extra loose images.

A few have been published but many have not been seen in public. They include pictures of slain Boers, a funeral of a British serviceman, an observation balloon at Ladysmith, General Buller and a ‘Boer War dog’.

Charles Hanson, managing director of the Etwall saleroom, says: “It really is quite an archive. We know from the family that Oliver was quite a rogue in his youth. At the age of 16, he ran away, ending up on a ship to Canada where he found work as a lumberjack.

“He later joined the Staffordshire Police and our client’s memory of him was that he was funny but firm and strict.”

Later in life Oliver became a landlord, owning the Devonshire pub in Hartington, Derbyshire.