Sir Ernest Shackleton’s medals fetch £585,000 at auction

A total of 15 medals awarded to Shackleton sold for over £580,000, each soaring above their pre-sale estimates and demonstrating how Shackleton’s legacy and the subject of polar exploration continues to capture imaginations today.

Born in Co Kildare in 1874, Shackleton led three British expeditions to the Antarctic, and one of the principal figures of the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.

Born in Co Kildare in 1874, Shackleton led three British expeditions to the Antarctic, and one of the principal figures of the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.

  • His first experience of the polar regions was as third officer on Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s Discovery Expedition 1901–04, from which he was sent home early on health grounds, after he and his companions Scott and Wilson set a new southern record by marching to latitude 82°S.
    • During the second expedition 1907–1909 he and three companions established a new record Farthest South latitude at 88°S, only 97 geographical miles (112 statute miles, 180 km) from the South Pole, the largest advance to the pole in exploration history. Also, members of his team climbed Mount Erebus, the most active Antarctic volcano. For these achievements, Shackleton was knighted (Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, below) by King Edward VII on his return home.
      • His third expedition took place after the race to the South Pole ended in December 1911 with Roald Amundsen’s conquest. Shackleton turned his attention to the crossing of Antarctica from sea to sea, via the pole. To this end he made preparations for what became the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914–17. Disaster struck this expedition when its ship, Endurance, became trapped in pack ice and was slowly crushed before the shore parties could be landed. The crew escaped by camping on the sea ice until it disintegrated, then by launching the lifeboats to reach Elephant Island and ultimately the inhabited island of South Georgia, a stormy ocean voyage of 720 nautical miles; Shackleton’s most famous exploit.
        • His final expedition, in 1921, was the Shackleton-Rowett Expedition when he attempted to circumnavigate the Antarctic continent. He died of a heart attack off South Georgia in 1922.

The feature lot in this sale was a group of four British medals awarded to Sir Ernest Shackleton, including the Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in recognition of the 1907-1909 Nimrod Expedition when he reached the furthest south ever explored.

  • They easily surpassed the £30,000 estimate to sell for £230,500 (excluding the buyer’s premium and taxes).
Shackleton - A group of four British medals

Shackleton – A group of four British medals

  • Lot No. 152
    • Sir Ernest Shackleton’s British Decorations
      • Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, 1909
      • Officer of the Order of the British Empire (Military), 1909
      • British War Medal, 1914-18 (incused on the rim ‘MAJOR SIR E.H. SHACKLETON.’)
      • Victory Medal, 1914-18, with emblem for Mentioned-in-Dispatches (incused on the rim ‘MAJOR SIR E.H. SHACKLETON.’)l
        • Estimate: £20,000 – £30,000  ($30,480 – $45,720)
        • Hammer Price: £230,500  ($352,665)

 

The other Shackleton medals sold in this auction were as follows :-

  • Lot No. 141
    • Royal Geographical Society Silver Medal, 1904
      • Estimate: £20,000 – £40,000 ($30,480 – $60,960)
      • Hammer Price: £86,500 ($132,345)
  • Lot No. 142
    • Dannebrog Medal by the King of Denmark, 1909
      • Estimate: £2,000 – £3,000  ($3,048 – $4,572)
      • Hammer Price: £16,250  ($24,863)
  • Lot No. 143
    • Polar Star of Sweden, 1909
      • Estimate: £3,000 – £5,000  ($4,572 – $7,620)
      • Hammer Price: £15,000  ($22,950)
  • Lot No. 144
    • St Olaf of Norway, 1909
      • Estimate: £3,000 – £5,000  ($4,572 – $7,620)
      • Hammer Price: £18,750  ($28,688)
  • Lot No. 145
    • Legion of Honour (France), 1909
      • Estimate: £2,000 – £3,000  ($3,048 – $4,572)
      • Hammer Price: £18,750  ($28,688)
  • Lot No. 146
    • Royal Geographical Society of Antwerp Gold Medal, 1909
      • Estimate: £2,000 – £4,000  ($3,048 – $6,096)
      • Hammer Price: £30,000  ($45,900)
  • Lot No. 147
    • Boston Medal with bar, 
      • Estimate: £1,000 – £2,000  ($1,524 – $3,048)
      • Hammer Price: £20,000  ($30,600)
  • Lot No. 148
    • Crown of Italy, 1910
      • Estimate: £2,000 – £3,000  ($3,048 – $4,572)
      • Hammer Price: £20,000  ($30,600)
  • Lot No. 149
    • St Anne of Russia, 1910
      • Estimate: £2,000 – £4,000  ($3,048 – $6,096)
      • Hammer Price: £23,750  ($36,338)
  • Lot No. 150
    •  Royal Crown of Prussia, 1911 (with its miniature)
      • Estimate: £2,000 – £3,000  ($3,048 – $4,572)
      • Hammer Price: £27,500  ($42,075)
  • Lot No. 151
    • Order of Merit (Chile) 1916
      • Estimate: £4,000 – £6,000  ($6,096 – $9,144)
      • Hammer Price: £74,500  ($113,985)

 

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