Gold naval medal for 1794 battle against French stars in London auction

One of seven examples known realizes $442,014 U.S.
By , Coin World
Published : 04/08/16
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British naval Admiral Lord Graves had a less than stellar career, but some artifacts of his life on the seas are drawing interest.

Bonhams in London auctioned a rare gold medal presented to Graves for the British Fleet’s victory at the Battle of the Glorious First of June, in 1794 during the French Revolutionary War. The medal, as well as an engraved Lloyds presentation trophy and seven logs and letter books, realized £314,000 ($442,014 U.S.), including the buyer’s fee, against an estimate of £140,000 to £160,000. The premium is 20 percent on the first £70,000 and 15 percent of any amount thereafter. 

The Lloyds presentation trophy is a twin-handled silver-gilt cup in recognition of the admiral’s gallant conduct on the “ever memorable 1st of June 1794.” 

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Admiral Lord Graves (Thomas Graves, 1st Baron Graves) captained HMS The Royal Sovereign during the Battle of the Glorious First of June, his most notable engagement.

His medal is one of only seven large examples awarded for the victory, according to the auction house. 

The obverse of the medal depicts Britannia, a spear in her left hand and a shield below, standing on the deck of an antique galley. Her right foot rests on a helmet and a winged victory crowns her with a wreath. 

The reverse features a wreath formed from oak (right) and laurel (left) encircling the periphery. An engraved inscription within reads “Thomas Graves Esquire Admiral and Second in Command on the 1 of June MDCCXCIV. The French Fleet Defeated.” 

The medal has a gold chain and neck ribbon.

John Millensted, director of Coins and Medals for Bonhams, said, in a press release, “This is an incredibly scarce and desirable medal in excellent condition and its rarity is reflected in the [result].” 

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