A collection of Victorian medals

Contributed by PaulBlez

A collection of Victorian medals

I think this framed collection of 17 medals is a potent reminder of the worldwide spread and power of the British Empire at its zenith.
It was bought by my maternal grandfather, Herbert Potter, in the Sudan 1901-1911. General Potter (as he later became) was on duty at Queen Victoria's funeral, and also fought in the Boer War. To earn enough money to marry his sweetheart, he signed up for ten years' service in the Sudan, where he was in charge of road building.
He learnt Arabic and had the power of life and death over his muslim soldiers. He wrote home weekly without fail and we have all his letters.
He said he bought these medals from his men because they were short of funds; family folklore has it that the dullest medal is the most valuable because it was made out of gunmetal during the siege of Khartoum.
Twelve of the medals have Queen Victoria's head on one side and an Arabic design/inscription on the other. Those with bars all have the placename inscribed in both Arabic and English. The other five medals bear the star and crescent symbol, three of them also say 'Egypt' in English. The most ornate medal is inscribed in Arabic alone. I would love to have an expert's analysis.

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  • 1 comment
  • 1. At 23:14 on 22 July 2010, MarkAReid wrote:

    Hello;

    My name is Mark and a friend in the UK just sent me the link to the wonderful photo of the medals collected by your grandfather. They look terrific and, as you wrote, are a tangible testament to some really hard campaigning on the part of the recipients. I have a special interest in medals awarded to the Egyptian Army of this period and, if you like, might be able to provide some additional information on these awards. There are five different medals displayed and the first is the silver one with the blue & white ribbon. This is the Egypt Medal and was awarded by the British government to British and Egyptian forces for operations in Egypt and the Sudan 1882-89. The next medal is the black star with the blue ribbon. This is the Khedive's Star and was given by the ruler of Egypt, The Khedive, for military operations 1882-92. The next medal is the round silver one with a yellow and pale blue ribbon, usually seen with multiple " bars " on the ribbon, this is the Khedive's Sudan Medal for service in the Sudan 1896-1908. Each bar on the ribbon denotes a battle or campaign in which the recipient served. The other round silver medal with the yellow & black ribbon with thin red stripe is the Queen's Sudan Medal, given for roughly the same operations. The last award is General Gordon Pasha's Star for the Siege of Khartoum 1884-85 and your family folklore is absolutely correct, it is a valuable item! It was cast and issued to soldiers during the siege and very few survived the fall of the city on 26 Jan 1885. Many were destroyed or thrown away.

    I don't want to further bore you but many of these medals will be engraved around the rim with information on the recipient and his regiment or unit. If you would like, you can send me the information engraved along the edge of each medal and I will try and identify them by name. I have copies of many of the medal rolls which were compiled for their issue and the men can probably be identified by their number. I can't guarantee to identify all of them but should be able to tell you the names and regiments, etc. of some of them. Most of the naming will be in Arabic but I can have it translated for you.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing these lovely medals and please feel free to contact me if you would like more information on the recipients who earned them and worked beside your grandfather. he is to be congratulated for rescuing these medals and keeping them safe from the local jeweller's melting pot.

    Best Regards
    Mark
    tapir@rogers.com

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