The first to come under the hammer in the Medals, Orders and Decorations sale was awarded to Captain George Forrest for ‘gallant conduct in the defence of the Delhi Magazine, on the 11 May 1857’, placing it among the earliest VCs to be awarded in the Indian Mutiny. It sold for £145,000 against an estimate of £80,000- 100,000.
The second was the ‘Kashmir Gate’ VC awarded to Ensign John Smith of Royal Bengal Engineers. In broad daylight and under heavy musket fire Smith demonstrated ‘conspicuous gallantry’ during the storming and destruction of the Kashmir Gate at Delhi on September 14, 1857.
It also sold well above an estimate of £70,000-90,000 at the auction on November 18-19, taking £155,000 from the same anonymous bidder.
David Kirk, medal specialist at Morton & Eden, said: “It was a great honour for us to have offered two distinguished Indian Mutiny VCs – neither of which had been seen on the market for more than two decades. There was plenty of competition for both, and the results show that the market for these iconic awards remains strong.”
A total of 182 Indian Mutiny VCs were awarded to members of the British armed forces, Indian Army and civilians under their command.
Named in error
Coming up at Cirencester auction house Dominic Winter on December 17 is an Indian Mutiny campaign medal awarded to a VC winner. On January 15, 1859, Major Herbert Mackworth Clogstoun, 19th Madras Native Infantry led a charge against a rebel band with only eight men of his regiment and although severely wounded himself and losing seven of the eight men in the engagement, forced the rebels into the town and caused them to abandon their plunder.
The Indian Mutiny medal was the last campaign decoration issued by the Honourable East India Company and around 290,000 were given. This example is marked for Mjr H M. Clogston [sic], V.C, 2nd Regt of Cavy Hyd Contigt. The Dominic Winter catalogue notes: “Clogstoun’s medal entitlement is for the VC, Indian Mutiny medal and India General Service 1854, one clasp Pegu, and this group is held in the collection of the National Army Museum, London.
“It should be noted, however, that the mutiny medal held by NAM has been physically examined prior to this sale and has not only been officially renamed, but in a clumsy and surprisingly careless manner. The careful examination of the NAM example therefore confirms conclusively that two authentic mutiny medals were issued to Clogstoun, the probable reason being that on the first medal – that which is offered in this catalogue – his surname had been spelt incorrectly.
“The medal offered here is also an unusual and very early example of the addition of ‘V.C.’ within the official naming.”