Our 10 June auction featured the outstanding group of Orders conferred during the 1830s upon John George Lambton, “Radical Jack”, the First Earl of Durham (1792-1840). A leading figure of the time, Lord Durham played a pivotal rôle in the drafting of the Great Reform Bill of 1832, and was also intimately involved with the establishment of constitutional monarchies in both Belgium and Greece, before his appointment as British Ambassador to Russia in 1835.
At the end of his service in Russia Tsar Nicholas I rewarded the Earl with the most prestigious honour he could bestow, creating him a Knight of the Order of St. Andrew in 1837. According to custom, the insignia of the Orders of St. Alexander Nevsky, White Eagle and St. Anne were presented to him at the same time. Of exceptional workmanship and superb provenance, these pieces attracted great interest and brought staggering prices in the saleroom. Lot 1, the magnificent set of insignia of the Order of St. Andrew, set the tone for the sale by exceeding the £1 million level and finally sold for an astonishing £1,320,000. Other lots also reached dizzying price levels. Lot 8, the insignia of the Order of the White Eagle, sold for over £850,000 (more than ten times the lower pre-sale estimate), and of the 22 lots of Durham property offered no fewer than 7 sold for in excess of £100,000. Even the mahogany trunk built to store and transport the orders made a five-figure sum. Overall, the sold total for the Durham material came to over £4,000,000, smashing the record for a London war medal auction.
(All prices include a 20% buyer's premium).