Thursday, November 10, 2011

An Armistice Day Remembrance of One Young Collector Killed in Action During the Great War

Tomorrow is Armistice Day or Veteran's Day in the US.

We celebrate all veterans that day, but the holiday began as a commemoration of the end of the First World War.

It has been estimated that there were almost 10 million military casualties in that conflict.

Whether by coincidence or design, the collection of one young man who was a victim of that conflict is being sold at auction. See

Morton and Eden describe Lot 794 as follows:

A collection of Roman bronze coins, formed before the Great War, comprising sestertii (about 45), middle brass (about 50) and other mainly Ae (about 180) together with a number of cast copies, generally poor to fine, some better, the collection housed in a mahogany fall-front coin cabinet carcass (12 ins wide x 10.5 ins deep x 9 ins high) with brass carrying handles and containing 10 trays with brass pulls

(lot) £800-1,200

The collection was formed by Gordon Wyatt Goldfinch of 92 Elfindale Road, Herne Hill, London SE. In the Great War he served in the 2nd London Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps, having volunteered in August 1914, and was killed in action, aged 23, on 28th March 1918. Offered with the lot are two hand-written notebooks, one dated August 1910 (when he was aged 15), listing the coins, the prices paid and often giving details of where they were bought (many were from Lincoln & Son, London). Also included are two photographic postcards of the collector, both signed, one in civilian dress, dated September 1914, the other as a soldier in winter uniform in France, dated December 1916. Lots 766 and 775 also comprise coins from this collection.

It's sad to see this collection dispersed some ways, but I'm glad that Mr. Goldfinch's sacrifice is being remembered in Morton and Eden's catalogue some 93 years after he was killed in action.

Addendum: This blog about British memorial medallions and the mixed feelings they generated is worth reading:


kyri said...

brilliant post peter.we owe these young men[and women] a great debt for giving their lives for our freedom.this collection,along with the letters and story are very poignant and should be in the local is very sad,remembrance day is very important to me,we must never forget.
ps,my 7 year old son come home from school with a poppy today and was bursting to tell me what it was all about,this is one thing the pc brigade have not managed to change in the uk...yet.

Cultural Property Observer said...

Hopefully, someone will buy it and keep the collection intact. Presumably, the poor overall condition of the individual coins makes that more likely to happen.

It would be in any event interesting to learn more about how the collection stayed intact for so long. One can imagine it was willed to a sibling who just recently passed away.