Silver-frosted medal tells story of last Oxford and Cambridge boat race before the First World War - and is up for auction in Aylsham

Sarah Prior from Keys Auctioneers, in Aylsham, holds the rare 1914 Cambridge University boat race wi

Sarah Prior from Keys Auctioneers, in Aylsham, holds the rare 1914 Cambridge University boat race winner's medal. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A century-old medal, one of nine given to the men who won a historic university boat race before the First World War, will be up for sale on Friday.

Keys Auctioneers, in Aylsham, are selling a rare 1914 Cambridge University boat race winner's medal

Keys Auctioneers, in Aylsham, are selling a rare 1914 Cambridge University boat race winner's medal along with other rowing related objects. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

At the starting signal, no one knew the 1914 Oxford and Cambridge boat race was to be the last one before war broke out, and that it was to be 1920 before the historic rivals returned to the Thames.

All that remains is the poignant frosted-silver medal which is part of a vast collection of rowing memorabilia expected to reach thousands of pounds at Keys Auction in Aylsham.

And of the nine men in the Cambridge winning team at the race four were killed in the war, never to row again.

It is not known which of the crew it belonged to, as none of the other medals have ever been listed at auction.

The 1914 Cambridge boat race crew by Christina Broom. L-R working backwards, starting with Cox at fr

The 1914 Cambridge boat race crew by Christina Broom. L-R working backwards, starting with Cox at front: L.E. Ridley (Cox); Dennis Ivor Day; Sidney Ernest Swann; Philip Clermont Livingston; John Andrew Ritson; Kenneth Gordon Garnett; C.S. Clark; Clarence Edward Victor Buxton; Geoffrey Egerton Tower. - Credit: Archant


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'It is a poignant item,' said Sarah Prior, head of books and ephemera at Keys Auction.

'Both crews were made up of bright young men with bright futures.

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'For a collector of rowing items it is one of the most sought after and scarce items you could hope to come across.'

The two-inch diameter medal is just part of a single-owner collection, put up for sale by the widow of a former Oxbridge rower who lived in Thetford.

Portrait of Cambridge’s Dennis Ivor Day, 1914, by Christina Broom. Portrait taken by Christina Broom

Portrait of Cambridge’s Dennis Ivor Day, 1914, by Christina Broom. Portrait taken by Christina Broom of Dennis Ivor Day. Day was part of the victorious 1914 Cambridge rowing crew. Day was tragically shot through the eye by a German sniper at Vermelles, France in September 1915. His parents were called for and crossed the channel to take him home to St Ives, but he did not regain consciousness. Day died of the injury on 7 October 1915, aged 23 years old. - Credit: Archant

The collection also includes books, postcards and an Irish silver cup from 1875.

Miss Prior said the collection would have taken years of dedicated work to gather, and hoped some of the lots would stay together.

The medal, which is lot 1454, is expected to reach between £500 and £600 at auction, and comes with a hallmarked silver shield listing the names of the crew.

Do you have an unusual collection? Tell us about it. Email sabah.meddings@archant.co.uk

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