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The E-Sylum (3/26/2017)

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While browsing online auction listings this week I came across this example of a gold U.S. State Department medal awarded to foreign seamen for rescuing Americans on the high seas or in foreign waters. It is part of a pair of medals offered by the Canterbury Auction Galleries. Below is the lot description. -Editor

State Department Medal Gold Medal A rare early 20th Century U.S.A gold Presidential Medal presented by President Thomas Woodrow Wilson "To Mr James Pay, Chief Coxswain of The Kingsdown Lifeboat "Charles Hargreaves", In Recognition of his Heroic Services in effecting the Rescue on November 20th 1916 of the Master and Crew of the American Steamship Sibiria", 36mm diameter (weight including bar 32.5 grammes), and a George V Royal National Lifeboat Institution silver Medal awarded to James Pay (voted 8th Dec. 1916), later in leather covered fitted case

Note: The silver medal awarded to Chief Coxswain James Pay for outstanding gallantry and tremendous skill, courage and resourcefulness during these rescue attempts. Silver medals were awarded by the R.N.L.I to Coxswain William Adams of the Deal Lifeboat, to Coxswain William Stanton and Second Coxswain Robert Holbourn, 73 of The North Deal Reserve Lifeboat, to Coxswain James Pay of The Kingsdown Lifeboat and to Coxswain William Cooper and Second Coxswain Thomas Read of The Ramsgate Lifeboat. In addition to his R.N.L.I silver medal Coxswain James Pay received a special gold Medal from (The American) President Woodrow Wilson

Complete with the details of the heroic rescue of the S.S. Sibiria, 20th November 1916 as detailed by Arthur Micklethwaite in "A Boatman's Tales", and with a copy of The Story in Straits Times, 27th December 1916 worded "Liner Siberia Wrecked - Badly Ashore on The Goodwin Sands" - Message from Deal on November 20th to The Daily Chronicle stated that the American Steamer Siberia was ashore on The Goodwin Sands, and that the great giant waves were slowly battering her to pieces. As far as could be judged on board number about forty including several women passengers clustered on the bridge. Gallant attempts were made by the life-boats to rescue the crew and passengers, but at the time of dispatch of the message they had not succeeded and two life-boats had returned much damaged and with the crews injured.

A Deal boat seized what seemed a favourable opportunity to get alongside the steamer, a huge sea caught her and ripped her sails to shreds and tore the thwart to which the anchor line was fixed clean out of the boat. At the same time she was brought broadside on a filled with water. A similar fate attended a Ramsgate lifeboat, several of whose men sustained broken arms and legs, and she also had to put back. The Siberia belonged to the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, New York - her Gross Tonnage is 11,284.

Estimate £5,000 - 7,000

The medal is numbered LS-3 in R. W. Julian's Medals of the United States Mint: The First Century 1792-1892. Engraved by George T. Morgan, the medals were struck in gold, silver and bronze. -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
A rare early 20th Century U.S.A gold Presidential Medal presented by President Thomas Woodrow Wilson (

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