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Tony Farrell

Royal Niger Company's Medal 1886-97

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Minted by Spink & Son of St. James's, London in 1899 for issue by the Royal Niger Company to its forces that were employed in a number of punitive actions against tribes in Nigeria. It was awarded in silver to Officers & NCOs and in bronze to natives. The clasp NIGERIA 1886-97 was authorised for the silver medal, whereas the bronze issues simply had NIGERIA on the clasp.

Fewer than 100 silver medals were issued and they are exceptionally rare and command a very high price. The illustrated example is a specimen struck from the original die and is identical in all respects to the original medals - apart from the letter S in the word Son (under the Queen's head) - which is absent on the later re-strikes.

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Just to add to Tony's post, a nice group went at DNW in July 2004.

As eye candy.

A rare Royal Niger Company service group of four awarded to Major J. H. Ewart, Seaforth Highlanders

Egypt and Sudan 1882-89, dated reverse (Capt., Sea. Highrs.); East and West Africa 1887-1900, 1 clasp, 1897-98 (Major, Lagos Hausa Force); Royal Niger Company?s Medal 1886-97, 1 clasp, Nigeria 1886-1897 (Major J. H. Ewart); Khedive?s Star 1882, minor contact marks

Admission price? ?3500!

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Fewer than 100 silver medals were issued and they are exceptionally rare and command a very high price.

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Probably a book in this for someone! The various expeditions were right out of P.C. Wren and Hollywood. The early ones involved boat trips up the Niger and Benue to suppress various slavers and "juju cults" (read human sacrifice still, unfortunately, practiced occasionally there). Launches full of Hausa levies, manned by sturdy Jack Tars, navigating narrow waterways through dense jungle under threat of poisoned arrow attack. Destination: really horrible "temple" sites.

Later, in the north, attacks on mud-walled forts and swarms of sword weilding native cavalry facing British squares and Gatling guns. British always outnumbered 10-20 to 1 and surviving by dint of superior firepower and discipline. A microcosm of the imperial story. And BTW, mud walls are not to be sneezed at. In 1980 the Kano Jail had mud walls: 30 feet high, eight feet thick and as hard as concrete. Not something I'd want to take under fire! :(

The Lagos Hausa Force were northerners recruited on the coast, so effectively mercenaries, like the Trans-Frontier Pathans in the Frontier Force regiments of the old Indian Army. And good fighters! The Nigerians sent 2 divisions to Burma in WWII where they had a reputation for fierceness second to none.

My tuppence worth! (I'm rambling here because the medal brings backs memories of 2 years in northern Nigeria back when I was young and adventurous).

Peter

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To date, the best source on these (and other African) campaigns remains R. B. Magor's African General Service Medals (revised and enlarged edition; London: [Naval and Military Press], 1993; ISBN 1-987632-26-6). But it may be hard to find as I fear it is out or print/stock (although abebooks.com list fifteen copies ranging from $15 to $81!).

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