Militaria, Classic Toys and Collectables - 20th March 2020

Militaria, Classic Toys and Collectables - 20th March 2020

A spectacular collection of medals, models and maritime memorabilia linked to the Humber’s ships and sailors is to go under the hammer in a Collectors and Militaria Auction at the Exchange Saleroom in Driffield this week on Friday the 20th.

The top result is expected to be provided by an Albert Medal for Gallantry in Saving Life at Sea awarded to Hull mariner John Bulmer during the First World War. Rare is hardly the word to describe the Albert Medal. It was instigated in 1866 in memory of Prince Albert and created to recognise ‘daring and heroic actions performed by mariners and others in danger of perishing by reason of wrecks and perils of the sea’. Just 216 were awarded in the 74 years before the award was superseded by the George Cross in 1940.

John Bulmer got his medal after a remarkable act of bravery during the First World War: He was the boatswain on the armed merchant steamship Rhydwen that was lying at Genoa in January 1917 when fire broke out in the vessel’s ammunition magazine. Ignoring the very real threat of a catastrophic explosion, Bulmer and a young Royal Marine entered the magazine, got a hose on the fire, removed shells and managed to extinguish the fire. The prompt action of the two men saved the ship, although sadly it was to prove a short-lived reprieve. Just six weeks later the Rhydwen was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat 170 miles west of Ireland. John Bulmer survived the sinking and went on to have a long career as a merchant seaman. His Albert Medal is expected to make £4,000-£6,000 when it goes under the hammer.

The militaria section of the auction also includes the medal set of Bulmer’s brother-in-law, Lt. Commander Frederick Grey RNR, another Hull seaman who remarkably won the DSO just ten months after the heroics in Genoa. Grey was in command of the armed trawler HMS Jacent that sank the mine laying submarine UC41 off the Tay Estuary. Lt. Commander Grey’s medal set of DSO, 1914/15 Star, War Medal and Croix de Guerre has a pre-sale estimate of £600-£800.be1427676d32bd0774c746f81773953c.jpg

Meanwhile remaining with the trawler theme, the auction has a large collection of cased Humber trawler models that were the work of a Hull model shipbuilder who, at the time of writing, we know only as G. Pearson.The eleven models that have been entered include one of Hull’s most famous ships, the Truelove. She was built in Philadelphia in 1764 and was captured by the British during the American War of Independence, when she operated as an American privateer. Bought by a shipowner for use as a cargo ship in the wine trade to Oporto. After a refit in 1784, which involved strengthening the vessel's hull, she began work as a whaler in the Arctic, based at Hull, although she was occasionally used for other cargo. In 1849, the ship carried relief supplies in support of Franklin's lost expedition, during which time she was threatened with sinking several times due to pack ice, including one instance when she was trapped for six weeks in Melville Bay. Notable whaling captains of the Truelove included John Parker, William Barron, and William Wells (1854-1860 & 1866-67). The vessel retired from whaling in 1868, having completed 72 voyages. After this time, she was still capable of being used as a general cargo ship. She ended her life as a hulk on the Thames and was finally broken up in 1895 at about 130 years old.

The models are being sold individually. The collection is expected to make a total of £2,500-£3,000.

Maritime curiosities in the auction include a fossilised whale’s eardrum on which Bernard Campbell, a member of a Hull whaling ship crew, painted a face. Not to everyone’s taste but there is considerable collector interest in these unusual curios. (Estimate £200-£300.) We also have the medicine box of the Humber Guardian, the buoy tender that worked in the river for a quarter of a century until she was sold and converted into an Ecuadorian cruise ship.3c2731716089a31eff3b12a71b481597.jpg

Finally following on from the highly successful Bridlington Railway Buffet auction on Valentine’s Day where enamel signs exceeded expectations we have a collection from a former Reckitts & Colemans promotion manager that were never used. They include one for their prize-winning mustard: Coleman’s won the only gold medal awarded in their class at the 1878 Paris Exhibition and were decorated with the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, the highest country’s highest order of merit. Honouring mustard makers. Very French but Coleman’s naturally made the most of it.One of the things they did was emblazon the Grand Cross on their enamel advertising signs. We have one of them, part of a collection of no fewer than ten enamel signs that were never actually issued and stuck up on walls. They are expected to attract a lot of interest. We also have a large section of Railwayania and die cast models.de023f2b43e671d85d5fe7d2c436cbd9.jpg

The auction extends to some 350 lots. The full catalogue is available on the Internet ( The viewing sessions at the Exchange Saleroom in Driffield are on Wednesday 18th March (10am-6pm), Thursday (10am – 4pm) and on Friday (20th) from 9am until the start of the auction at 10 o’clock. It will be webcast live on the Internet (