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    Monday, February 26th, 2024

    An 1806 Irish halfpenny was the top lot at Noonan’s sale of British trade tokens, tickets and passes. It made a hammer price of £5,500 over a top estimate of £1,000. It went to a collector in Ireland. The final part of the Irish Tokens from the Collection of the late Barry Woodside achieved a hammer total of £17,895 with two notable examples being a farthing from Newcastle, County Limerick, engraved Florence O’Connell, Irish Woollen Warehouse, Bridge St. which made £2,600 at hammer of a top estimate of £200 and a token saying George Lynch, Elephant House, Lr. Sackville Street Portmanteau Manufacturer which made £2,200 against a top estimate of £100. They went to Irish collectors. An 18th century token from Munster with a bust of Bryen Boiromhe, King of Munster made £1,400 against an estimate of £300-400. It was bought by a collector in the USA.


    Wednesday, October 12th, 2022
    P.D.S.A. Dickin Medal for Gallantry – “The Animals’ V.C.” – and R.S.P.C.A. Red Collar for Valour awarded to War Dog Rob

    The hugely emotive P.D.S.A. Dickin Medal for Gallantry, otherwise known as the V.C for animals, and the R.S.P.C.A. Red Collar for Valour awarded to War Dog Rob, for his gallantry and outstanding service during the Second World War, during which the black and white collie retriever undertook 20 parachute descents while serving with Infantry in North Africa and the 2nd S.A.S. Regiment in Italy was sold for a world record price of £140,000 (at hammer) at Noonans today. Bought by a new collector of British gallantry awards it had been estimated at £20,000-30,000. The entire proceeds will be given to the Taylor McNally Foundation.

    It was sold by Basil Bayne, the son of Rob’s original owner, who now lives in Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland and also included an extensive archive including his collar, a portrait painting, photographs, certificate, manuscripts, books and letters.  


    Sunday, August 28th, 2022
    Thomas Henry Kavanagh VC (1821-82) being disguised as a native during the Indian mutiny at the siege of Lucknow, 9th November 1857, c.1860 by Chevalier Louis-William Desanges  (c) The National Army Museum

    The Victoria Cross awarded to a Mullingar civil servant for an epic and daring escape and rescue during the Siege of Lucknow comes up at Noonan’s in London on September 14. Months into the siege during the Indian Mutiny of 1857 Thomas Henry Kavanagh crept out in disguise from the surrounded Residency at night.  Against all odds the Irishman, a clerk at the Lucknow office, successfully crossed enemy lines, made contact with the Commander in Chief 15 miles away at Cawnpore and guided a relieving force through the city to the beleaguered garrison by the safest route.

    Even though Kavanagh was a tall man with fair hair and blue eyes he made the trip dressed as a sepoy accompanied by a Brahmin scout, Kananji Lal. This painting at the National Army Museum in London by Chevalier Louis-William Desanges shows him being disguised. The siege had begun in June and by November the situation was becoming critical. He himself devised the plan for what was to become one of the best known episodes of the defence of Lucknow. Thomas Henry Kavanagh was the first civilian to be awarded the VC, Britain’s highest honour.  His wife was wounded during the siege and his youngest child (of 14) died at the Residency as a baby.

    He was promoted to the post of Assistant Commissioner at Oudh, given a reward of £2,000 and granted leave to return to England. He was presented with his medal by Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle and became a Victorian celebrity, touring England and Ireland and publishing an account of the Siege entitled: “How I won the Victoria Cross”.  A first edition copy of this book is  included with the lot. Photographs of him became popular postcard images. Afterwards he continued his career in India and his spendthrift ways, which had almost cost him his job prior to the siege. Seriously in debt again by 1875 he was asked to resign.  Born in Mullingar in 1821 he took ill while returning from India in 1882 and died at Gibraltar, where he is buried. His VC is estimated at £300,000-£400,000 (€353,410-€471,210).


    (See post on for September 18, 2022)


    Thursday, August 18th, 2022
    Indian Mutiny ‘Siege of Lucknow’ V.C. awarded to Mr. Thomas Henry Kavanagh, Bengal Uncovenanted Civil Service. UPDATE: THIS MADE £930,000 – A WORLD RECORD PRICE FOR A V.C.

    The first civilian Victoria Cross of five to be awarded presented to Thomas Henry Kavanagh by Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle – one of only two not in a museum – comes up at Noonan’s in Mayfair on September 14 with an estimate of £300,000-400,000. The famous Indian Mutiny ‘Siege of Lucknow’ Victoria Cross was awarded to Thomas Henry Kavanagh, who was born on July 15, 1821 in Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.

    He was employed as a clerk in the Lucknow Office prior to the Siege. In November 1857, he volunteered to leave the safety of the Residency disguised as a Sepoy (an Indian soldier serving under British or other European orders), accompanied by a Brahmin scout.  The pair jostled past armed rebels through the narrow Lucknow streets and talked their way past sentries in the moonlight, crossed deep rivers, tramped through swamps and narrowly avoided capture after startling a farmer who raised the alarm.  On finally reaching a British cavalry outpost Kavanagh delivered Sir James Outram’s vital despatch to Sir Colin Campbell and ably guided his column to the relief of the Residency garrison.

    Oliver Pepys, Auctioneer and Medal Specialist (Associate Director) Noonans explained: “Kavanagh was decorated with the highest honour for undertaking an epic quest to escape the surrounded Residency at night, crossing enemy lines, making contact with the camp of the Commander-in-Chief, and then using his local knowledge to guide the relieving force through the city to the beleaguered garrison by the safest route.”

    “The first of just five civilians to have been awarded the V.C., he was further rewarded with promotion to the gazetted post of Assistant Commissioner of Oude and was presented with his Victoria Cross by Queen Victoria in a special ceremony at Windsor Castle. A tour of England and Ireland further enhanced his celebrity while the publication in 1860 of his account of the Siege, ‘How I won the Victoria Cross’ and Orlando Norrie’s painting of him donning his Indian disguise – one of the truly iconic images of the Defence of Lucknow – ensured that he became a Victorian legend, indeed few histories of the conflict are without an image of ‘Lucknow Kavanagh’.”

    A first edition copy of his book is included with the lot.

    Thomas Henry Kavanagh