London saleroom Dix Noonan Webb (DNW) offered a South Africa Medal 1877-79 awarded to Private Michael Minehan, 2nd Battalion, 24th Foot, which sold for £70,000 hammer price (or £84,000 when buyer’s premium is added).
The price paid by a British private collector set a record for a Rorke’s Drift medal awarded to a defender who did not receive the Victoria Cross.
With only about 150 defenders involved in the 1879 action, South Africa medals awarded to Rorke’s Drift defenders have an obvious rarity value.
Just three months later, however, DNW has another: the medal with clasp for 1879 awarded to Driver Charles Robson, who was batman to the commanding officer Lieutenant John Chard during the epic defence.
It will be auctioned on March 1 with four original testimonial letters, including the one from Chard, several certificates, Robson’s Army Account Book and a bible presented by the Ladies’ Rorke’s Drift Testimonial Fund in 1879.
The lot was consigned by a direct descendant from the UK and is estimated at £30,000-40,000. It is believed that the consignment was secured because of the record Minehan result (that medal had been estimated at £26,000-30,000).