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General Gordon's Star for the Siege of Khartoum


sabrigade
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This medal was designed by General Gordon and was intended to boost the morale of the defenders of Khartoum when they were besieged by the Mahdi Army in 1884.The medal was sold to interested parties and some references state that the money was used to obtain and purchase food for the poorer members of the Khartoum population.It was cast in a sand mould and was made locally in Khartoum.General Gordon used his own breast breast star of the Order of the Mejidieh as the model or basis for this medal.My example is the silver variety and the only other specimens of this medal that I have seen are the medals in the Khalifa's house museum in Khartoum.

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A fascinating medal, extremely rare. It has always been my understanding that these were individually sand cast from his order: Shove the obverse into the sand, pour in the molten medal, let it cool and finish it, and them make another one.

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Over the past few years a number have been for sale in the London DNW auctions - all make prices in excess of $1,000. I seem to recall that the one on display at the Mahdi's museum in Omdurman is a gilded example (there is one also at the Ftizwilliam Museum in Cambridge) and had been awarded to the Bishop of Khartoum but my memory is vague on this.... I believe that the inscription - not clear on this example reads to the effect "Defence of Khartoum" and the year - but I would need to check my notes.

Owain

Edited by oamotme
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  • 2 weeks later...

This photograph was taken at the Khalifa House museum in Omdurman.The detail and clarity is not the best and I will take some myself when I return to Khartoum.It shows the 3 variations of the medal.

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Hello sabrigade,

Very nice, thanks for posting the General Gordon's Star. The only one I've seen is in the Medal Yearbook (Medal News) and yours looks to be a far better casting. I always thought the reverse would have been flat being a sand casting so seeing yours was enlightening. I should have realized that the star could have have some design because my father worked in a foundry many years ago as a mould maker.

Thanks again for this post.

cheers :cheers:

Brian

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Ed,

The museum has some very interesting items,including a type of uniform worn by General Gordon and various weapons used by the Mahdi army.If there is interest,I can post more photgraphs as a seperate topic.

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Ed,

The museum has some very interesting items,including a type of uniform worn by General Gordon and various weapons used by the Mahdi army.If there is interest,I can post more photgraphs as a seperate topic.

Hello All,

The two below are in my collection (both in pewter and with convex back).

Sabrigade,

I'm also very interested in seeing what the museum contains including the uniform worn by General Gordon so, please post all the photos you have.

Regards

Lilo

Edited by lilo
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Thanks for posting the photographs.

I will go to the Khalifa's house musem in Omdurman as soon as I can and attempt to take clearer photographs of the medals and artifacts.

I am not aware of an influx of these medals for sale, so therefore do not suspect that copies of them are being made.

The medals remain very difficult to find and not much detailed information is available about them.

Are there details regarding the numbers manufactured available?

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Is this medal in your collection? Some sources also refer to the blue ribbon as for the Khedive's Star.It remains a fascinating medal and more and more information is slowly coming out.

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Is this medal in your collection? Some sources also refer to the blue ribbon as for the Khedive's Star.It remains a fascinating medal and more and more information is slowly coming out.

sabrigade,

Sadley no, this particular Star was up for auction and eventualy sold for GBP 200.

Regards Eddie.

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Hi Eddy,

Thanks for the reply. GBP 200 is a lot less than the trade I had to do for me to obtain my medal.

Regards,

Will

Your welcome Will,

Did you see the little snippit of information regarding the issue of these in the Fitzwilliam museum link?

If not here is what it says there.

"This heavy silver-gilt star was manufactured in the besieged city by order of General Gordon by a city jeweller, in an attempt to raise the morale of his beleaguered troops. The design was a copy of the Turkish Order of the Medjidie. Payne reported a story which suggests that owners of these stars became particular targets of the Mahdi's vengeance.

The stars were issued numbered, but not named, and were available for purchase by anyone in the city, military or not".

Regards Eddie.

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"On April 26, he made his first issue of paper-money to the extent of ,2500 redeemable in six months. By July 30, it had risen to ,26,000 besides the ,50,000 borrowed from merchants. On the same day he struck decorations for the defense of Khartoum---for officers in silver, silver-gilt and pewter for the private soldiers. These medals bear a crescent and a star, with words from the Koran, and the date, with an inscription,---"Siege of Khartoum,"---and a hand-grenade in the center. "School-children and women," he wrote, "also received medals; consequently, I am very popular with the black ladies of Khartoum."

This bit of information I found on the internet in an article called:

ISLAMIC HISTORY SOURCE BOOK : ALFRED EGMONT HAKE : THE DEATH OF GENERAL GORDON AT KHARTOUM,1885

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Hello Everyone,

I would think these would be easy to copy as they are cast. Has there been a lot of copying of these medals done? I haven't actually seen any but then again I have not been looking.

Cheers

Brian

Unquote

Brian,

If you refer your question to the two examples in my collection, all that I can tell you is that :

'Both the examples came from two private collections where the two Stars resided for many years before being sold. Both where guaranteed 100% original.'

As our member Sabrigade already stated, I never have seen them in quantity on the market. If we consider also the poor manufacture of the medal and that the rise in prices of these Stars was only in recent times, I retain (it is only a personal belief) that there was no large benefit in copying this Stars. I also retain that till recent times there wasn't much request for these Stars so no reason to copy them.

So if you want to look for a 'copy' let us know who sell them and what they looks like.

Eddie,

Payne reported that the stars were issued 'numbered' but for what I can see from mine and the descriptions of those that were on the market in the last 10 years (about 12 or 13 Stars), there is no Number in any of them.

Sabrigade,

For what regards the exact colour of the ribbon (according the little research I made) I think that it is definitively 'Red'.

As an aside and a propos of the 'paper-money' issued by Gordon during the siege, see an example below, whose description is :

'A banknote from British Sudan, issued by the famous General Charles Gordon to pay his troops during the siege of 1885. Supposedly about 3000 of these notes were smuggled out of the Sudan after the siege and rape of the capital city of Khartoum.'

Best Regards

Lilo

Edited by lilo
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Hello lilo,

No, Iwas not refering to any medals in anyones collection. I thought that I should have qualified my question to avoid that very confusion but as weekends go around here I got side-tracked. I was just asking for my information.

I would never suggest that a member has a copy unless I felt confident that I was expert enough to tender such an opinion. Perhaps in a decade or two down the road I'll be at that stage in my medal collecting but not at the present. :lol:

The only photo I have ever seen (Medals Yearbook) looks like a copy compaired to the ones that have been posted here, these are very nice examples.

Actually I have no interest in obtaining a copy of any medal but if I ever run onto one of these as a copy I will inform (warn) the membership.

I have read here on the forum that many copies of other medals are cast rather than sruck and this one being cast would seem an easy target.

Thanks again for an interesting thread, I have added to my knowledge on this interesting medal.

Cheers :cheers:

Brian

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