Lot 8
  • 8


2,000 - 3,000 GBP
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Commemorative medal by J.R. Gaunt, unnamed, with original ribbon for wearing, gilt metal suspension brooch with beaver over legend CANADIAN LEGION 1936, diameter approximately 29mm, fitted case.


Cf: Sotheby's, The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor, Geneva, Friday 3rd April 1987, Lot 181.

Cf: Joseph S. Giordano, Portraits of A Prince; Coins, Medals, and Banknotes of Edward VIII, London, 2009, page 336.

Cf: A King's Story, The Memoirs of H.R.H. The Duke of Windsor, K.G., London 1953, page 282.


Medal stamped to reverse, 10ct fine for 10 carat gold and maker's name J.R.Gaunt. Total weight approximately 20 grams. Light scratches to reverse, evidence of cleaning to medal in the past, could benefit from a careful professional clean. Gilt metal suspension brooch with beaver over legend CANADIAN LEGION 1936. Accompanied by fitted case made by Cartier after 1987 sale at Sotheby's. In very good condition. A bronze pilgrimage medal was struck and presented to all Canadian veterans who travelled to Europe to attend the unveiling of the Vimy War Memorial on 26th July 1936. There is no record of how many of these medals were struck, but possibly several thousand. The Vimy Pilgrimage Medal in this auction, was one of only five specially created gold replicas of the bronze medals. The Library and Archives Canada owns the Gold Vimy medal presented to the Right Honourable William Lyon Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada, by the Dominion Command of the Canadian Legion on his birthday, 1st December 1937. The other three gold replicas were presented to H.M. Leopold III, of Belgium; Mr. Albert Lebrun, President of the French Republic; and the sculptor of the Vimy Memorial, Mr. Walter Seymour Allward.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Please note that colour, clarity and weight of gemstones are statements of opinion only and not statements of fact by Sotheby's. We do not guarantee, and are not responsible for any certificate from a gemological laboratory that may accompany the property. We do not guarantee that watches are in working order. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue, in particular to the Notice regarding the treatment and condition of gemstones and to the Notice regarding import of Burmese jadeite and rubies into the US.

Catalogue Note

The Battle of Vimy Ridge took place from 9th April to 12th April 1917 near Arras in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France during the First World War.  It was the first occasion whereupon all four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force participated in a battle as a cohesive formation.  The corps suffered 10,602 casualties: 3,598 killed and 7,004 wounded.  The Battle of Vimy thus became a Canadian nationalistic symbol of achievement and sacrifice. 

King Edward VIII unveiled the Canadian National Vimy Memorial on 26th July 1936, in his memoirs he states 'The Canadian Government had acquired from the French nation Vimy Ridge; there they had erected a noble monument in memory of the Canadians who lie buried in France..... I had been invited to inaugurate the monument in the presence of 6,000 Canadian veterans who had made a pilgrimage across the Atlantic for the ceremony'. This took place in the presence of French President Albert Lebrun, 50,000 or more Canadian and French veterans, and their families.  In his speech, the King said: 'By a gesture which all understand, the soldiers especially, the laws of France have decreed that here Canada shall stand for ever.  We raise this memorial to Canadian warriors.  It is the inspired impression in stone, chiselled by a skilled Canadian hand, of Canada's salute to her fallen sons.'  William Lyon Mackenzie King, the Prime Minister of Canada, transmitted a message to the crowd by Transatlantic telephone.

The dedication of the Canadian War Memorial at Vimy took place almost exactly midway through the brief reign of Edward VIII and was one of the most visible appearances he made as the British Sovereign.  He was sincerely moved by the dedication of the memorial to the Canadian casualties and this medal was presented to the King on this occasion.