Preface for the WJ Noble Collection of New Zealand Historical Medals and Memorabilia

Monday, 14 August 2023

Welcome to Part I of the WJ Noble Collection of New Zealand Historical Medals and Memorabilia.

The following is a selection of 5,000 lots of mostly more recent acquisitions from the vast collection formed by W.J. (Jim) Noble of Sydney over the last at least 50 years. It is expected that the Collection in its entirety will be catalogued and produced in three stages over the next couple of years. The first offering has a combined auction value of over $2.6 million Australian dollars.

Seventeen sessions feature a diverse range of historical pieces including, commemorative medals from 1865 to 2017, sporting and general medals, badges and awards, agricultural and pastoral medals and awards, tokens of honour, returned and other soldiers and finally checks, discount and special purpose tokens.

Session 1 highlights many early pieces, including nine medals from the first New Zealand Exhibition in 1865 (lots 1-9), the extremely rare Duke of Edinburgh Visit of 1869 (lot 11) and the historically important working dies of Anton Teutenberg (lots 12, 13, 176) ($11,000), a medal from the Temperance Glee Party from Nelson in 1873 (lot 24) ($2,500), no less than four medals for the visit of the German Battleship SMS Gazelle to New Zealand in 1875 (by Teutenberg, combined value $7,300) (lots 25-28), another extremely rare original medal for the wrecks of the ‘Ben Venue’  and  ‘City of Perth’  (Timaru) in 1882 (lot 33) ($4,500), a gold medal from the New Zealand International Exhibition of 1882, a very rare silver medal from the New Zealand Industrial Exhibition of 1885 to the medallists Bock & Cousins of Wellington (lot 97), a unique gold medal of 1887 by Brown & Kerr of Nelson (lot 118), a previously unrecorded gold medal from the New Zealand & South Seas Exhibition held in Dunedin (1889-90) (lot 134), two gold medals from a previously unknown West Coast Exhibition (1893-94) (lot 170) ($3,000), four extremely rare gold medals from the Canterbury Jubilee Industrial Exhibition (1900) (lot 267-269, 277) ($6,500) culminated at the end of the session by the unique 1904 Lord Ranfurly medal by Weedon, London (lot 354) ($5,000).

Session 2 features a shield from the Great Strike of 1913 (lot 516), several extremely rare medals in gold from the Auckland Exhibition (1913-14) (lots 519-521), a handcrafted gold medal from 1915 for raising subscriptions for a ‘Motor Ambulance’ (lot 554) ($1,600), a presentation key in gold from the Takapau Patriotic Committee (1924) (lot 628), an extremely rare gold medal from the New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition in Dunedin (1925-26)  (lot 651) ($3,000), a gold pass from the same Exhibition (lot 671) ($1,200) and a very rare medal for the Visit of the Maori Rugby Football Team to Great Britain (1926-27) (lot 682) ($1,500).

Session 3 contains later commemorative issues from 1940 until 2017, highlights include a trial strike in bronze from the New Zealand Centennial Exhibition in 1940 (lot 741) ($1,500), the unique Abel Tasman Tercentenary medal of 1942 (lot 815) ($5,000), a very rare competitor’s medal from the 1950 British Empire Games (lot 862) ($1,500), a set of Palmerston North Centenary medals (1970) including one of 4 struck in gold (lot 921) ($6,250) and a set of Rugby League gold medals (1995) (lot 1036) ($5,000), medals from the R.D.Muldoon Collection and various Numismatic Society medals including rare gold issues.

Session 4 highlights include athletic awards to one recipient (1893-1902) (lot 1091)($7,000) and another (1920-35) (lot 1126) ($15,000) an important award by the Olympic Athletic Club in 1953 (lot 1179) ($2,000) and a group of boxing medals to one recipient (1930-69) (lot 1332) ($1,800).

Session 5 contains a group of medals presented by Viscount Leverhulme (1924-26) (lot 1380) ($2,000), a trial strike for ‘Mother Mary’ by Teutenberg (lot 1384) ($2,000), an Auckland presentation gold watch (1900) (lot 1411) ($2,000), a superbly handcrafted gold cycling medal from 1889 (lot 1449) ($5,000) and serveral rare fire brigade groups including (lot 1538, 1543, 1565) ($3,000, $3,500, and $2,700).

Session 6 includes several important fire brigade groups including a unique Auckland grouping (1941-78) (lot 1666) ($5,000). 

Session 7 is represented by a Caledonian Society silver medal (c1870s) (lot 1885) ($1,500), a group of highland dancing medals to one recipient (1923-25) (lot 1914) ($2,500) and the main highlight of the collection, the 1921 Auckland Trotting Club gold cup (lot 1981) ($20,000).

Session 8 is highlighted by two military medal groups to a Captain in WWI (lot 2302) ($4,000) and an RNZAF Timor group (lot 2393) ($2,000).

Session 9 is devoted to general medals and features a group of 15 gold fob medals (lot 2552) ($1,800) and a large mixed lot from the W.H.Lampard Collection (lot 2608) ($2,750).

Session 10 is highlighted by an MBE group to a lady (1977) (lot 2656) ($2,500), a diverse group of 183 medals, badges and tokens (lot 2680) ($2,000), a New Zealand Order of Merit (lot 2684) ($2,000), a brass band group (1911-1927) (lot 2751) ($1,750), an MBE WWII group (lot 2825) ($2,000), an important Philatelic group 1950-70 (lot 2884) ($4,000) and a rare group to a photographer (lot 2896) ($2,400). 

Session 11 contains many important lots including an extremely early (1868) New Zealand Government gold shooting medal (lot 2939) ($6,000), a family group and another group of shooting medals from the late 1890s (lots 2963 and 2985) ($4,500 and $4,000) and culminates with several Royal Humane Society medals, including an extremely rare gold example from 1915 for a beach rescue at Napier (lot 3176) ($15,000) this being one of the main highlights of the Collection.

Session 12 features some very rare rugby awards including a gold fob medal to a player from the 1905 ‘Original’ All Blacks (lot 3199) ($6,000), a struck silver medal to commemorate France vs New Zealand in Paris (1917) (lot 3229) ($1,500) and two fob medals to All Blacks of the ‘Invincibles’ tour in 1924-25 (lots 3255 and 3256) ($5,000 each) and a bronze Robert Deans Scholarship medal from 1908 (lot 3357) ($2,000).

Session 13 contains mostly school medals, the highlights being a family group from Timaru Boys’ High School spanning the  1920s - 1940s (lot 3576) ($1,000) and a group of eight medals for boxing to a King’s School Auckland scholar (lot 3595) ($1,500).

Session 14 is the final section for general awards with the feature lot being a group of 21 water sports medals to a man covering the years 1938-1951 (lot 3715) ($1,100).

Session 15 is devoted to agricultural and pastoral medals and awards and is arranged in alphabetical order by society name. There are many highlights in this section including a family group of 12 pig breeder’s medals from 1939-1964 (lot 3923) ($3,500), Canterbury group of gold medals for horses 1893-1922 (lot 3954) ($3,500), an amazing group of 69 medals awarded to one Canterbury sheep breeding family (1898-1975) (lot 3955) ($15,000), a group of four to a prominent Canterbury individual (1916-29) (lot 3963) ($3,500), a group of 5 medals for bacon from 1897-1900 (Egmont and Auckland societies)  (lot 4000) ($3,500), a group of 22 medals (1936-58) for Romney Marsh sheep to a Southland family (lot 4006) ($5,000), a magnificent group of ploughing match and agricultural society medals (15) to a North Canterbury family (1922-29) (lot 4112) ($7,500), a dairy cow group from Otago 1920s (lot 4153) ($3,000) and 8 Southdown Sheep Society and other medals (1920s-1930s) (lot 4188) ($5,000).

Session 16 features 318 individual tokens of honour or ‘Tribute’ fobs from small towns in New Zealand to returning and other soldiers covering the Boer War through to the Korean War, 295 of which are from WWI. Each is unique in its own right.

Session 17 concludes this catalogue and covers mainly checks, discount and special purpose tokens, highlighted by three Canterbury Grandstand passes from 1863 (lots 4880-4882) ($1,000 each) and six, mostly different, New Zealand Railways gold passes to Members of Parliament 1880s-1910 (lots 4902, 3, 6-11, 14) (combined value $12,800).

Jim Noble’s lifetime passion for collecting these, mostly unique, medals and tokens has resulted in the formation of this massive offering. Part I of the collection, presented herewith, is a significant part of an estimated total of around 15,000 individual lots, to be catalogued and offered for sale in the fullness of time. 

It has been a great privilege and honour to have been selected to catalogue this unique and very historically important collection. I would like to personally  thank Jim for entrusting me with the job of cataloguing his collection and also to those who have provided the background research that goes with many of the items in the Collection.

AWG, December 2019   

Editorial Note: I would like to thank Jim Noble for the opportunity to edit the pubication of the excellent cataloguing work by Tony Grant and thereby increase my knowledge of New Zealand numismatics and history.

John O’Connor, December 2019

Expressions of interest are welcome for a bid on the whole of Part I, lots 1-5000, in order to keep the collection together. Offers for such a bid will close by September 4th 2023.