Gold medal award from Trinity College Dublin sells for record price at Noonans

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Gold medal award from Trinity College Dublin sells for record price at Noonans
Trinity College, Dublin, a gold award medal by West & Son, bust of Elizabeth I three-quarters right, rev. arms, named (Guilelmus R. Fearon, 1915), 48mm, 21.8ct, 62.10g. Tiny obverse edge nick at 3 o’clock, otherwise brilliant mint state; in original maroon gilt-blocked fitted case by West & Son, 102 & 103 Grafton Street, Dublin £2,400-£3,000

LONDON.- A gold award medal from Trinity College, Dublin that was presen record hammer price of £6,500 at Noonans Mayfair in a sale of Historical Medals on Tuesday, October 17, 2023. Sold by an Irish collector, it had been expected to fetch £2,400-3,000 [lot 223].

Following the sale, Peter Preston-Morley, Associate Director of the Coin Department at Noonans commented: “This gold award medal by West & Son of 102 & 103 Grafton Street, Dublin was decorated with a three-quarter length bust of bust of Elizabeth I. It attracted interest from all over the world and achieved a record price for any medal from Trinity College Dublin. In an original maroon gilt-blocked fitted case, the medal was in mint condition and was purchased by a collector in the Far East.”

William Robert Fearon (1892-1959), pioneer biochemist was born in Holles Street, Dublin and was the son of the Presbyterian minister, William Fearon (†1896) of Kells, Co. Meath, and his wife, Nannie, née Morrow. Wiliam lived with her at 4 Clarinda Park North, Dún Laoghaire and was educated at St Andrew’s College, Dublin between 1908-11, followed by Trinity College between 1911-17, where he received a BA in natural science (gold medal); followed by the Harvey research prize from the Royal College of Physicians, Dublin in 1918, and the Carmichael prize from the Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin. He went on to work as a researcher for the British food ministry and the food investigations board between 1917-19; Mackinnon research student of the Royal Society at Emmanuel College, Cambridge from 1919-21 and was elected fellow of Trinity College Dublin in 1921. The chair of biochemistry was founded for him there in 1943, a position he held until his death. From 1943 until his death on 27 December 1959 he represented the Dublin University constituency in Seanad Éireann and sat on many government committees.

Elsewhere in the sale, which fetched a hammer total of £108,405 (£134,422 with Buyers’ Premium) and saw 96.6% sold was two lots of French jetons. One lot of 33 octagonal silver medals that had been struck between 1832-41 sold for a hammer price of £4,400 against an estimate of £400-500 [lot 286], while a group of 22 dating from 1869 realised a hammer price of £1,700 against an estimate of £300-400 [lot 287]. Both were sold by a UK collector and were bought by the same collector in the Far East.

A very rare gilt-copper medal from the Philippines decorated with a portrait of Charles III dating from around 1785 sold for a hammer price of £1,300 against estimate of £600-800. Again, it was being sold by a UK collector but attracted interest from all over the world and eventually sold to a collector in the US [lot 358].

An extremely fine hollow cast silver medal by P. van Abeele depicting Charles II’s Embarkation at Scheveningen in 1660 sold for a hammer price of £1,100 against an estimate of £600-800 and was bought by a member of the UK trade. It was part of a Collection of British Historical Medals, the Property of a Gentleman which comprised 56 lots and fetched a hammer price of £17,190 [lot 8].


In 1991, its first year of trading, the company held three medal auctions and sold 1,200 lots for a total hammer price of £553,000, however 30 years later, Noonans is established as the premier medal auctioneer worldwide. Two years later, in 1993, it opened a coin department which also auctions commemorative medals and tokens. In 2015 Noonans (then Dix Noonan Webb) added jewellery to its sales calendar as well as setting up a stand alone banknotes department and expanding into premises next door. In 2022, they achieved a total hammer price of £16,437,725 and the total number of lots sold across all departments was 24,044. To date the company has sold in excess of 400,000 lots totalling over £235 million.

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