Medals Speak Strongly of a Remarkable Woman’s Courage, Service and Duty

Nursing Sister Annie Alexander medals and awards

Medals speak strongly of remarkable courage, service and duty. They are collected with great reverence and a desire to keep the stories of the recipients alive.

Nursing Sister Annie Alexander’s story was vividly retold when a group of medals and associated papers and photographs were sold in Toovey’s specialist auction for £5500.

World War I nurses were members of the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS). There were about 10,000 regular and reserve QAs serving in countries as far afield as France, India, East Africa, Italy, Palestine, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Salonika and Russia.

This rare group of seven First World War period British and French medals and decorations awarded to Nursing Sister Annie Alexander comprised a Royal Red Cross , a Military Medal, a 1914-15 Star, a 1914-18 British War Medal and a 1914-19 Victory Medal, a French M‚daille d’Honneur des Epid‚mies en vermeil and Belgian L’Arm‚e … ses Infirmaries nursing medal, with various related original and copied paperwork and photographs.

A rare group of seven First World War period British and French medals and decorations awarded to Nursing Sister Annie Alexander with associated photographs and paperwork

They related to her service during the Great War at Queen Alexandria’s Hospital at Dunkirk. I ask Mark Stonard, Toovey’s militaria and medals specialist, about the collection and he says “The hospital acted as a station for invalided soldiers from the front. Annie was one of the front-line nurses aiding these soldiers under horrendous circumstances. The hospital was bombed from the air on a number of occasions. Annie was awarded the medals in 1917 along with some of her fellow nurses who worked with her at Dunkirk.

“The Military Medal awarded to Annie was instituted in 1916. The obverse had an effigy of King George V, the reverse bore the inscription “For Bravery in the field.

In total some 115,600 military medals were awarded during the First World War but only 127 were given to ladies. So this was an exceptionally rare group. Winning the Gallantry Medal must have been a source of great pride for Annie. What made this group even more special was the accompanying contemporary photos, paperwork and French and English certificates from the time which bring this very personal story to life.”

Mark speaks with passion and reverence about this remarkable person, her life and our common story, our history.

Detectorist Strikes Gold At Itchingfield

The obverse and reverse of an Edward IV second reign gold-angel c.1471-1483, mintmark and heraldic cinquefoil

A gold-angel coin discovered at Itchingfield in West Sussex has just been sold at Toovey’s for £4200.

Toovey’s coin specialist, Mark Stonard, explains “Dating from between 1471 and 1483 the coin was an example of a gold-angel coin introduced during the reign of Edward IV in 1465. The obverse depicts the Archangel Michael defeating the devil who is represented as a dragon. The reverse is decorated with a ship showing the power of the English naval fleet and the importance of shipping to our overseas trade.”

I ask Mark about the coin’s discovery, he replies “The coin was found at Itchingfield in the Horsham District by a responsible detectorist. It was recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme and returned to the finder. The finder and the landowner decided to enter this remarkable coin into Toovey’s specialist coin sale where it made £4200. It’s so important to emphasise the value of recording finds made by metal detectorists. The location and context of where things are found gives us a fantastic record of what has been before us.”

Mark continues “These coins were often known as touch pieces and were thought to bring good fortune and healing. It was thought that coins given at Holy Communion could be rubbed on parts of the body suffering from rheumatism to bring a cure. This tradition was also employed using coins given by the King or Queen in a ceremony which illustrated the ‘Divine Right of Kings’ before God. People of royal blood were thought to have the God-given power of healing through touch which is why the coins became known as touch pieces. Coins which depicted the defeat of the Devil were favoured and emphasised the monarch’s divinely given healing power.”

The obverse and reverse of a Henry VIII first coinage gold-angel c.1509-1526, mintmark castle (well-centred with a nice full flan)

“A Henry VIII first coinage gold-angel coin dating from between 1509 and 1526 was also entered at Toovey’s and realised £3000. These coins are often pierced so they could be worn by the recipient, it was exciting to see these two complete examples.”

Reflecting on the current high prices for coins Mark concludes “The specialist collector’s field of coins remains really strong. These objects help us to understand our history and powerfully connect us to it.”

Mark Stonard is inviting entries for his next specialist sale of coins on and can be contacted by telephoning 01903 891955.