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
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
Wayne Homren, Editor
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