Private John Trickett pictured in his army uniform during the First World War, shown with the penny that saved his life – £4500 at Hansons.

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Stories abound of, for example, lucky bibles and cigarette cases which deflect bullets. Some of them are possibly tall tales but multiple bidders were convinced by the narrative provided by Hansons’ vendor. Estimated at £100-200, the lot sold at £4500.

The identity of the buyer in the room – his grandson Nigel Trickett, 55, of Owston Ferry, near Doncaster – means it is staying in the family.

Hansons’ militaria specialist Adrian Stevenson said: “Soldiers used to keep objects in their breast pockets in an attempt to protect themselves from enemy fire and explosions. Shrapnel was the biggest killer in wartime.

“It’s likely Trickett kept the penny there on purpose. When the bullet hit the coin, it ricocheted up through his nose and went out through the back of his ear. It left him deaf and disabled but still alive. He was honourably discharged from the Northamptonshire Regiment on September 7, 1918.”

Pte Trickett’s two brothers, Horace and Billy, both died in the war.

The archive, including British War and Victory medals, was sold by Trickett’s granddaughter who had lost touch with her other family members, including the buyer.