The Victoria Cross at Auction Part 3: 2000-2011
The Victoria Cross at Auction Part 3: 2000-2011
By the year 2000 over 260 Victoria Crosses had been offered for sale at auction (many of them on more than one occasion, and in a few cases having previously appeared on a dealer's list). Prices had risen considerably over the years, from the £26 paid by Mr. Holland for the V.C. awarded to Seaman Thomas Reeves at Sotheby's on the 5th May 1884, to the £120,000 (£138,000 including premium) paid by Lord Ashcroft for the V.C. awarded to Flying Officer Lloyd Trigg at Spink on the 6th May 1998. In 1940, the average price paid at auction for a Victoria Cross was just £55 (although it had been somewhat higher prior to the Great Depression); by 1960, the average price paid had risen ten-fold to approximately £550; and this rate of increase was maintained over the next 40 years: by 1980 the average price was approximately £5,500; and by the turn of the Millennium around £55,000. Supply had risen too, with exactly half of the V.C.s ever offered for sale at auction appearing in the last 20 years.
The first Victoria Cross to appear at auction in 2000 was the outstanding Great War posthumous V.C. group of four awarded to Sergeant Alfred Gill, King's Royal Rifle Corps, for his gallantry and supreme sacrifice at Delville Wood on the 27th July 1916. In 1965 this had realised £800 at Sotheby's, but this time it sold at DNW on the 29th March for £60,000 (£69,000 including premium), well above the estimate of £40,000 to £50,000. A month later, on the 27th April, another Great War Victoria Cross appeared, this time at Spink- the V.C. group of six to Sergeant J. Readitt, South Lancashire Regiment, for his most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty in Mesopotamia, where he was the sole survivor of five bombing attacks in the face of heavy Turkish machine-gun fire. Carrying the same estimate as the Gill group, it sold at the low estimate (£46,000 including premium); a fair indication of the relative popularity with collectors between the Western Front and Middle Eastern theatres. Then on the 28th June DNW offered two more Great War Victoria Crosses for sale- a good Vimy Ridge V.C. group of five to Corporal Thomas Bryan, Northumberland Fusiliers; and a superb 1914 Western Front V.C., M.M., and Russian Cross of St. George group of ten to Drummer Spencer Bent, East Lancashire Regiment. Both exceeded their estimates, the Bryan group realising £60,000 (£69,000 including premium), and the Bent group selling for £80,000 (£92,000 including premium), a new record price for a Great War Army V.C.
The first Victoria Cross of the new decade to break through the £100,000 barrier was the fine Indian Mutiny V.C. group of three awarded to Colonel J. C. Campbell Daunt, Bengal Native Infantry, for two acts of conspicuous gallantry in October and November 1857. First offered for sale at Sotheby's in June 1973- 'The Property of a Gentleman', it was bought by Mr. Richard Magor for £2,300. On the 2nd July 2003 Magor's collection of medals relating to India and Africa appeared for sale at DNW, and not surprisingly the Daunt V.C. group- described in the catalogue as being his first major purchase- appeared on the front cover. Estimated at £80,000 to £100,000, this time it sold for £110,000 (£126,500 including premium), as impressive a price as it had been thirty years previously.
The first really impressive 'multiple gallantry' Victoria Cross group to appear at auction in the 21st Century was the exceptional Great War V.C., D.S.O., M.C. and Bar group of twelve to Commander Daniel Beak, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, who was the Commander of Drake Battalion, Royal Naval Division, on the Western Front during the Great War. By 1918 this 'Combined Operations' sailor had already been awarded two Military Crosses, followed by a Distinguished Service Order, In August 1918 his Battalion was involved in the attack on the Hindenburg Line as part of the final advance, and it was here that Commander Beak won his Victoria Cross. The official citation for his V.C. action is a testament to his conspicuous bravery, his courageous leadership, and his devotion to duty: 'He led his men in attack, and, despite heavy machine-gun fire, four enemy positions were captured. His skilful and fearless leadership resulted in the complete success of this operation and enabled other battalions to reach their objectives. Four days later, though dazed by a shell fragment, in the absence of the brigade commander, he reorganized the whole brigade under extremely heavy gun fire, and led his men with splendid courage to their objective. An attack having been held up, he rushed forward, accompanied by only one runner, and succeeded in breaking up a nest of machine guns, personally bringing back nine or ten prisoners. His fearless example instilled courage and confidence into his men, who then quickly resumed the advance under his leadership. On a subsequent occasion he displayed great courage and powers of leadership in attack, and his initiative, coupled with the confidence with which he inspired all ranks, not only enabled his own and a neighbouring unit to advance, but contributed very materially to the success of the Naval Division in these operations.' The combination of a superb action and a most impressive array of awards justified the high estimate, and after some spirited bidding in the room the group sold for £155,000 (£178,000 including premium), easily setting a new world record price for a Victoria Cross group at auction.
However, it was a record that was to last fewer than six months, for on the 30th April 2004 Spink offered for sale one of the most extraordinary Victoria Crosses ever awarded, one that combined real 'Boy's Own' derring-do with the full range of human emotion. Sergeant Norman Jackson had enlisted in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve at the outbreak of the Second World War, and in July 1943 joined No. 106 Squadron, as the Flight Engineer onboard the Squadron's Lancaster Bombers. On the 24th April, 1944, he completed his tour of 30 operational sorties, but as one of those sorties had been with a different crew, he volunteered to do one more 'just for luck' so that he could be with his friends when they finished their tours. 106 Squadron's target for the night of 26th April was Schweinfurt, the home of the German ball-bearing industry, and at 21.35 hours Jackson's Lancaster, with his old crew all aboard, took off from R.A.F. Metheringham for the 1,000 mile round trip- earlier in the day he had heard news that his wife Alma had just given birth to their first son, and celebrations were planned for their return. However, unexpected strong head winds delayed the main bomber force of 215 Lancasters en route which gave the German night fighters more time to detect the main bomber stream, with the result that combats took place all the way to the target and during the period of the raid. 106 Squadron experienced its most tragic evening of the war - five Lancasters failed to return. In the midst of all this Jackson carried out one of the finest acts of gallantry of the entire War, as the official citation makes clear: 'This airman was the flight engineer in a Lancaster detailed to attack Schweinfurt on the night of 26th April 1944. Bombs were dropped successfully and the aircraft was climbing out of the target area. Suddenly it was attacked by a fighter at about 20,000 feet. The captain took evading action at once, but the enemy secured many hits. A fire started near a petrol tank on the upper surface of the starboard wing, between the fuselage and the inner engine. Sergeant Jackson was thrown to the floor during the engagement. Wounds which he received from shell splinters in the right leg and shoulder were probably sustained at that time. Recovering himself, he remarked that he could deal with the fire on the wing and obtained his captain's permission to try to put out the flames. Pushing a hand fire-extinguisher into the top of his life-saving jacket and clipping on his parachute pack. Sergeant Jackson jettisoned the escape hatch above the pilot's head. He then started to climb out of the cockpit and back along the top of the fuselage to the starboard wing. Before he could leave the fuselage his parachute pack opened and the whole canopy and rigging lines spilled into the cockpit. Undeterred, Sergeant Jackson continued. The pilot, bomb aimer and navigator gathered the parachute together and held on to the rigging lines, paying them out as the airman crawled aft. Eventually he slipped and, falling from the fuselage to the starboard wing, grasped an air intake on the leading edge of the wing. He succeeded in clinging on but lost the extinguisher, which was blown away. By this time, the fire had spread rapidly and Sergeant Jackson was involved. His face, hands and clothing were severely burnt. Unable to retain his hold, he was swept through the flames and over the trailing edge of the wing, dragging his parachute behind. When last seen it was only partly inflated and was burning in a number of places. Realising the fire could not be controlled, the captain gave the order to abandon aircraft. Four of the remaining members of the crew landed safely. The captain and rear gunner have not been accounted for. Sergeant Jackson was unable to control his descent and landed heavily. He sustained a broken ankle, and his right eye was closed through burns and his hands were useless. These injuries, together with the wounds received earlier, reduced him to a pitiable state. At daybreak he crawled to the nearest village, where he was taken prisoner. He bore the intense pain and discomfort of the journey to Dulag Luft with magnificent fortitude. After 10 months in hospital he made a good recovery, though his hands require further treatment and are of only limited use. This airman's attempt to extinguish the fire and save the aircraft and crew from falling into enemy hands was an act of outstanding gallantry. To venture outside, when travelling at 200 miles an hour, at an incredible height and in intense cold, was an almost incredible feat. Had he succeeded in subduing the flames, there was little or no prospect of his regaining the cockpit. The spilling of his parachute and the risk of grave damage to its canopy reduced his chances of survival to a minimum. By his ready willingness to face these dangers he set an example of self-sacrifice which will ever be remembered.'
Norman Jackson was awarded his Victoria Cross by the King at Buckingham Palace on the 13th November 1945. The only other man receiving a Victoria Cross that day was Group Captain Leonard Cheshire, and with characteristic generosity Cheshire tried to get the King to honour Jackson first, as having 'stuck his neck out furthest', although sadly protocol would not permit it. Sixty years later, as Lot 1 in the Spink sale, Jackson's V.C. group was estimated at £120,000 to £140,000. Opening at £110,000, it was quickly bid up to an astonishing £200,000 (£230,000 including premium), a new and richly deserved world record price.
On the 17th September 2004, DNW offered for sale Part I of the Brian Ritchie Collection of H.E.I.C. and British India Medals, undoubtedly the finest medal collection to appear at auction in the first decade of the 21st Century. Many years earlier, having already built up a formidable collection, Mr. Ritchie was given the opportunity to buy the Second Afghan War Peiwar Kotal V.C. to Major John Cook, of the 5th Gurkhas. Deciding that he ought to have a V.C. in his collection, 'although just the one you understand', he acquired it, and it was not long before other Crosses followed- ultimately the collection would contain four V.C.s, the campaign medals of another four V.C. winners, and several others who were recommended for the V.C. Part I of the collection contained two of the four V.C.s, the aforementioned Cook V.C., who was subsequently mortally wounded at the assault on Takht-i-Shah in the Second Afghan War; and the Persian Campaign Battle of Khushab V.C., C.B. group of five to Lieutenant Arthur Moore, 3rd Bombay Light Cavalry, for the famous charge which broke the square of Persian Infantry. Both lots were estimated at £80,000 to £100,000, and whilst the Cook V.C. only narrowly exceeded the bottom estimate, selling for £82,000 (£94,300 including premium); the Moore V.C. attracted far more interest, in the end being knocked down for £150,000 (£172,500 including premium), the third highest priced V.C. at auction of all time, and the record for a 19th Century action. The relative scarcity of the two awards was undoubtedly also a factor; whereas 16 Victoria Crosses were awarded for the Second Afghan War, only three were given for the Persian Campaign of 1856-57, of which the last one to appear at auction had been way back in 1910.
Part II of the Brian Ritchie Collection, offered for sale at DNW on the 2nd March 2005, included the Indian Mutiny V.C. group of seven to Trumpet-Major Robert Kells, 9th Lancers, for gallantry in saving the life of his Commanding Officer during an attack at Bolandshahr in September 1857. Bought by Mr. Ritchie at Sotheby's in November 1986 for £13,000 (against an estimate of £12,000 to £14,000), this time, estimated at £80,000 to £100,000, it ended up selling for £130,000 (£149,500 including premium), a ten fold increase for the vendor in a little under twenty years.
The final part of the Brian Ritchie Collection, sold on the 23rd September 2005, contained, unsurprisingly, the pick of his four Victoria Cross groups- the magnificent Indian Mutiny V.C., G.C.B., G.C.S.I., G.C.V.O., I.S.O. group of twenty to the great General Sir Dighton Probyn. Although the G.C.S.I. insignia had been returned on the recipient's death, due to the statutes in force at the time, the lot was still a visual feast for the eyes, containing as it did alongside the Victoria Cross the insignia of a Knight Grand Cross of both the Military and Civil Divisions of the Order of the Bath (the recipient being the only member outside the Royal Family to have been appointed to the First Class in both Divisions), as well as insignia from Germany, Greece, Hawaii, Portugal, Russia, and Turkey. Running to ten pages in the catalogue, as well as the front cover, and estimated at £120,000 to £150,000 it appeared at first, when the bidding opened, as if it might only sell for the low estimate, but in the end all was well and it ended up realising a deserved £160,000 (£184,000 including premium), the second highest selling V.C. group of all time.
Nine Victoria Crosses were won by Australians at Gallipoli, and by 2006 eight of them were on display in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. The ninth- the V.C., M.C. group of seven to Captain Alfred Shout, Australian Imperial Forces, the most highly decorated Australian soldier of the Gallipoli campaign, remained in private hands. On the 9th August, 1915, at Lone Pine, Captain Shout had, with a very small party, charged down trenches strongly occupied by the enemy, and personally threw four bombs among them, killing eight and routing the remainder. Not finished, that afternoon, from the position he had gained in the morning, he captured a further length of trench under similar conditions and continued to bomb the enemy at close range under very heavy fire, until he was severely wounded, dying of his wounds two days later.
On the 24th July 2006 Shout's Victoria Cross group came up for sale at Bonhams and Goodman, in Sydney. Heavily publicised prior to the sale as being a group that could well break the world record price for a V.C., due in part 'to the emotional attachment Australians have for Gallipoli', it was hoped by the Australian War Memorial that 'as an act of generosity a benefactor will bid on behalf of the War Memorial, so that the Cross does not have to leave Australia.' Estimated at a progressive A$800,000 (approximately £325,000), it eventually sold for a scarcely believable hammer price of A$1,000,000 (A$1,214,500 including premium; approximately £405,000 or £490,000 including premium), more than double the previous World Record. As with the Nicolson V.C. group back in 1983, it was bought by a private benefactor wishing to preserve it for the Nation, unaware that the underbidder was an organisation wanting to do the same. The Shout V.C. group, like the other eight V.C.s awarded to Australians at Gallipoli, is now on display in the Australian War Memorial. To this day it remains the world record price paid for a Victoria Cross as auction.
In what seemed an impossible act to follow, the next Victoria Cross to be sold at auction was also a Gallipoli V.C., but this time to a British recipient. Sergeant William Cosgrove, Royal Munster Fusiliers, was awarded his Cross for his exceptional bravery the day following the costly disembarkation from H.M.S. River Clydeon 'V' beach, Cape Helles on the 25th April 1915: a giant of a man who weighed 16 stone and stood at 6ft. 6in., he used his exceptional strength to wrench enemy wiring stanchions out of the ground to clear a path for his comrades, notwithstanding a terrific fire from both front and flanks, as a result of which he was seriously wounded - 'the manner in which this man worked out in the open will never be forgotten by those who were fortunate enough to witness it.' Although the naval V.C.-winning exploits that were enacted around the River Clyde during the landings at 'V' beach at Cape Helles on that April day have rightly secured a place in the annals of British military history, from the army's point of view it was the 1st Battalion, Royal Munster Fusiliers who bore the brunt of the murderous enemy fire that swept the beach during and after disembarkation - over 70% of the three Munster companies to emerge from the sallyports cut in the side of the River Clydebecame casualties. That the survivors, raked by machine-gun fire, somehow managed to cling on to the beach, and then advance the following day, has been described as 'one of the most glorious tales of the Dardanelles', and that advance was only made possible by the magnificent courage of 26-year-old Corporal Cosgrove, who quite literally turned the tide of battle by forcing a way through the enemy's wire. According to Private in the Munsters, Cosgrove was driven to his desperate deeds by the senseless slaughter around him, and he 'proceeded to attack the wire, which was over 6ft. high, with his bare hands, and so thick a bird could not fly through it. Although wounded, he continued to up root the wire thereby opening a gap that enabled us to go through and advance'. Offered for sale at DNW on the 22nd September 2006, as part of the Ron Penhall Collection, with an estimate of £120,000 to £150,000, it realised £180,000 (£207,000 including premium), a figure that before the Shout V.C. would have been considered even more exceptional.
When the Victoria Cross was instituted in January 1856, the first awards were backdated for the Baltic and Crimea. The first Victoria Cross to be actually won was that to Lieutenant Charles Lucas, H.M.S. Hecla, for throwing a live shell overboard on the 21st June, 1854, but sadly his Victoria Cross was lost towards the end of the 19th Century and has never been seen since. The second ever V.C. to be won was that to Commander John Bythesea, Royal Navy, for taking part in a daring mission to capture Russian despatches in the Baltic- armed only with a single flint pistol, he took three of the enemy prisoner and obtained much vital intelligence. Offered for sale at Spink in the absence of any accompanying campaign medals on the 19th April 2007 the Cross attracted much interest, for both its superb early 'Commando style' citation, and also obviously the fact that it is the oldest surviving V.C. (in terms of date of action). Estimated at £90,000 to £110,000, it was bid up and eventually sold for £135,000 (£155,250 including premium), a record price for a single Victoria Cross at auction, a record which remains to this day.
Following on from the success of the Cosgrove V.C., DNW offered for sale at auction on the 13th December 2007 anotherRiver Clyde Gallipoli Victoria Cross, the outstanding V.C. group of five to Petty Officer George Samson, Royal Naval Reserve, who worked under appalling fire on 'V' Beach for longer than any of the other 'River Clyde V.C.s', until, finally, he collapsed, riddled with Turkish machine-gun fire. According to the report of the Surgeon who treated him he had been wounded in 19 places, and was in great agony, and 'whether he lived or died I knew he had won the V.C.' Estimated at £150,000 to £180,000, it realised £30,000 more than the Cosgrove V.C. had just over a year earlier, selling for £210,000 (£241,500 including premium), a new British record price at auction, overtaking the Jackson V.C. group, and a figure second only to the Shout V.C.
In November 2009 Spink started an amazing run which would see them offer for sale no fewer than ten Victoria Crosses at auction over an 18 month period. The first of these, and the first V.C. to be offered for sale in this country for well over a year, was the outstanding Second World War Bomber Command V.C. group of six to Flight Lieutenant Bill Reid, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. The official citation tells a story of unbelievable courage and leadership: 'On the night of November 3rd, 1943, Flight Lieutenant Reid was pilot and captain of a Lancaster aircraft detailed to attack Dusseldorf. Shortly after crossing the Dutch coast, the pilot's windscreen was shattered by fire from a Messerschmitt 110. Owing to a failure in the heating circuit, the rear gunner's hands were too cold for him to open fire immediately or to operate his microphone and so give warning of danger; but after a brief delay he managed to return the Messerschmitt's fire and it was driven off. During the fight with the Messerschmitt, Flight Lieutenant Reid was wounded in the head, shoulders and hands. The elevator trimming tabs of the aircraft were damaged and it became difficult to control. The rear turret, too, was badly damaged and the communications system and compasses were put out of action. Flight Lieutenant Reid ascertained that his crew were unscathed and, saying nothing about his own injuries, he continued his mission. Soon afterwards, the Lancaster was attacked by a Focke Wulf 190. This time, the enemy's fire raked the bomber from stern to stern. The rear gunner replied with his only serviceable gun but the state of his turret made accurate aiming impossible. The navigator was killed and the wireless operator fatally injured. The mid-upper turret was hit and the oxygen system put out of action. Flight Lieutenant Reid was again wounded and the flight engineer, though hit in the forearm, supplied him with oxygen from a portable supply. Flight Lieutenant Reid refused to be turned from his objective and Dusseldorf was reached some 50 minutes later. He had memorised his course to the target and had continued in such a normal manner that the bomb-aimer, who was cut off by the failure of the communications system, knew nothing of his captain's injuries or of the casualties to his comrades. Photographs show that, when the bombs were released, the aircraft was right over the centre of the target. Steering by the pole star and the moon, Flight Lieutenant Reid then set course for home. He was growing weak from loss of blood. The emergency oxygen supply had given out. With the windscreen shattered, the cold was intense. He lapsed into semi-consciousness. The flight engineer, with some help from the bomb-aimer, kept the Lancaster in the air despite heavy anti-aircraft fire over the Dutch coast. The North Sea crossing was accomplished. An airfield was sighted. The captain revived, resumed control and made ready to land. Ground mist partially obscured the runway lights. The captain was also much bothered by the blood from his head wound getting into his eyes. But he made a safe landing although one leg of the damaged undercarriage collapsed when the load came on. Wounded in two attacks, without oxygen, suffering severely from cold, his navigator dead, his wireless operator fatally wounded, his aircraft crippled and defenceless, Flight Lieutenant Reid showed superb courage and leadership in penetrating a further 200 miles into enemy territory to attack one of the most strongly defended targets in Germany, every additional mile increasing the hazards of the long perilous journey home. His tenacity and devotion to duty were beyond praise.' Nor was that the end of Reid's war- he was later posted to the famous 617 'Dam Busters' Squadron, with whom he was 'bombed out' on a 'tall boy' sortie in July 1944, an action for which some thought he should have been awarded a D.F.C.
Offered as Lot 1 in Spink's auction on the 19th November 2009, in front of a packed room, with an estimate of £180,000 to £220,000, the lot was bid up by half a dozen bidders to an incredible £290,000 (£348,000 including premium), a new record price for a Royal Air Force V.C., for a Second World War V.C., and for a V.C. to a British recipient.
Spink's next auction, on the 22nd April 2010, had a further two Victoria Crosses in it. Lot 1 was a scarce Crimean 'Double Action' V.C. group of four to Major John Knox, firstly for gallantry as a Sergeant in the Scots Fusilier Guards at the Battle of Alma on the 20th September 1854, in what was the Army's first V.C. action, and secondly as a Lieutenant in the Rifle Brigade for the first assault on the Grand Redan at Sebastopol. Clearly, the fact that it was one of the first six V.C.s awarded to the Army made it historically important, but what really captured the public's imagination was that fact that Knox had lost his arm to a Russian cannon ball at Sebastopol, and the offending cannon ball, which had been picked up from the field of battle by a comrade of Knox's, was included in the lot. Huge press interest was generated, with the cataloguer appearing with the Cross and the cannon ball on the main BBC TV News, as well as giving numerous radio and newspaper interviews. Come the day of the sale the Estimate of £100,000 to £120,000 was always going to be left behind, and not surprisingly the lot sold for double the estimate, realising £210,000 (£252,000 including premium), a record for a 19th Century V.C.
The Spink auction on the 25th November 2010 contained four Victoria Crosses, a multi-decade record, and the greatest number offered for sale at one auction since 1930. Back then, Glendining's had sold eight V.C.s between the 16th and 18th July 1930 for a combined sum of £397; eighty years later the four Spink V.C.s sold for a combined sum of £630,000 (£756,000 including premium). The pick of these was the outstanding Great War Somme V.C. Casualty group of four to Second Lieutenant Donald Bell, Yorkshire Regiment, a pre-War professional footballer, who, during his Battalion's first action of the Battle of the Somme, under heavy enemy fire, had rushed out across No-Man's Land and attacked a German machine-gun post, shot the gunner with his revolver, bombed out fifty of the enemy, and ensured the objective was taken. Tragically, just five days later he was killed leading a similar devastating attack on the German positions at Contalmaison. He was buried where he fell, and in his honour the spot, which later became a redoubt, was officially called 'Bell's Redoubt.' Estimated at £140,000 to £160,000, the group was bid up in the room to £210,000 (£252,000 including premium), and fittingly, given that Bell was the only professional footballer to be awarded the Victoria Cross, was bought by the Professional Footballers' Association, to go on permanent display.
The most recent Victoria Cross to be sold at auction was at Spink on the 21st April 2011. 'Unique' is a word that needs to be treated with a degree of caution when it comes to describing medals, but there was no doubt that Lot 1 in the sale was just that- the superb V.C., K.C.M.G., C.B., K.H. group of sixteen to Lieutenant, later Major-General Sir Christopher Teesdale, Royal Artillery, who was awarded his V.C. for the Defence of Kars when, on the 29th September 1855, as one of just four British Officers present, he inspired by personal example and led the remnants of a shattered Turkish Army to victory against a Russian Force comprising of 22 Battalions of Infantry and a Division of Cavalry- during the hottest part of the action, having rallied his men, 'he led the final charge which completed the victory of the day.' For his gallantry at Kars he was created a Companion of the Order of the Bath, an Officer of the French Legion of Honour, and a Commander of the Ottoman Order of the Medjidieh, as well as of course being awarded the Victoria Cross. Although he did not receive a British campaign medal he did receive the Turkish campaign medal for the Defence of Kars- a unique occurrence of the Victoria Cross being paired with a foreign campaign medal. Over the course of his subsequent career he also received awards from Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hawaii, and Russia.
Featuring on the front cover of the auction catalogue, and running to no fewer than nine pages inside, the lot generated significant interest, and in the end the estimate of £160,000 to £200,000 was easily exceeded, the lot selling for £260,000 (£312,000 including premium), the second most expensive V.C. group ever to have been sold at auction in the country.
Since 2000 exactly 50 Victoria Crosses have been offered for sale at public auction, 40 in this country and ten overseas. Twelve of these V.C.s had appeared at auction before (between 1965 and 1989); but the remaining 38 were all appearing for the first time. Over the last decade prices have risen considerably, and whilst the Shout V.C. group will no doubt hold the auction world record for some time to come it surely cannot be too long before it to is surpassed, as the stories of bravery, courage, and supreme valour associated with the bronze Cross continue to inspire.
Progression of the World Record Price at Auction for a Victoria Cross from 2000:
Flying Officer Lloyd Trigg, Royal New Zealand Air Force
£120,000 (£138,000 including premium)
Spink, 6th May 1998
Commander Daniel Marcus William Beak, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve
£155,000 (£178,250 including premium)
Spink, 5th November 2003
Sergeant Norman Cyril Jackson, Royal Air Force
£200,000 (£230,000 including premium)
Spink, 30th April 2004
Captain Alfred John Shout, 1st Infantry Battalion, Australian Imperial Forces
A$1,000,000 (approx. £405,000) (A$1,214,500 including premium- approx. £490,000)
Bonhams and Goodman, Sydney, 24th July 2006