After British soldiers fought in the campaign known as the First
Opium War, an early effort to honor them in medallic form was quickly squashed.
A pattern for the silver Queen Victoria military decoration for
those engaged in battle was rejected for its design, showing a
vanquished dragon (indicating the Chinese). A rare example of this
pattern medal realized $26,290 U.S. (including the 19.5 percent
buyer’s fee) during Heritage Auctions’ June 22 and 23 auction in Hong
Kong. The medal had an estimate of $4,000 to $8,000.
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Famed engraver William Wyon designed the medal, which shows a
youthful portrait of Queen Victoria on the obverse and the British
lion with paws atop a suppressed Chinese dragon on the reverse. A
legend translating to “They demanded peace by force of arms” appears
on the reverse.
We examine an usual example of ‘machine
Another column in the July 24 Coin World examines a VAM marriage
that deserves better.
The design was rejected because “its illustration might
unnecessarily harm the mending of relationships,” according to Heritage.
The Treaty of Nanking, signed in 1842 and giving Hong Kong to the
British, marked an end to the First Opium War (1839 to 1842), which
was waged between the United Kingdom and China. Although the war was
broadly a result of wide-ranging imbalances in trade between the two
nations, it was the dispute over the British importation of opium from
India that ultimately gave the war its popular name.
The Gem Uncirculated medal measures 37 millimeters in diameter and
weighs 29.01 grams.
Only a few examples of the medal are known to exist, the auction
firm reports; another example sold in a July 2010 Dix Noonan Webb
auction having a suspension ribbon attached. “This piece, never having
been suspended, is a die match to the example in the Royal Mint
Museum,” reports Heritage.