The auction, held by Morton & Eden in conjunction with Sotheby’s on July 3, was titled Royal Orders and Medals from the Royal Collection of George, Duke of Cambridge (1819-1904), King George III’s grandson.
Early British material in the group attracted strong interest and the Lesser George sash badge, which featured a cameo by the celebrated gem engraver Benedetto Pistrucci set in a 22ct gold and blue enamel mount by William Clutton, sold for £135,000 (plus 25% buyer’s premium) against an estimate of £100,000-150,000.
Various bidders in the room and on the phone competed for this piece, with a private collector on the phone emerging victorious.
It is the twin of the one in the Royal Collection, which was acquired in 1878 by the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) on the death of King George V of Hanover. It was one of Edward VII’s favourite badges.
Another high-flier was a Russian Order of St Andrew, collar or sash badge and breast star, by Julius Keibel, St Petersburg, from the full set of Russian Imperial insignia bestowed upon the Duke of Cambridge in 1874. Against an estimate of £40,000-60,000, it sold for £115,000 to a Russian private collector.
The 80-lot group (75 sold) was primarily from the 2nd Duke’s collection, spanning the 19th century and the opening years of the 20th, complemented by several pieces which were originally owned by the 1st Duke of Cambridge, his father.
James Morton, from Morton & Eden, said: “The collection remained in the hands of the Duke of Cambridge’s family since his death in 1904 and had for many years been displayed publicly at the Guards Museum, Birdcage Walk.”
After a scandal over the duke marrying an actress, the dukedom remained vacant following George’s death in 1904 until 2011, when the present queen conferred the title on her grandson, Prince William.