A macabre executioner’s notebook turns heads, while an unassuming campaign medal with a unique connection smashes its estimate



A June auction highlighted how a firm connection to a Victoria Cross recipient can push prices to record highs

On July 28, 1880, Gunner James Collis, ‘E’ Battery, ‘B’ Brigade, Royal Horse Artillery accomplished an act of gallantry that led to his award of the VC.

Born in Cambridge on April 19, 1856, Collis had served as an infantryman before joining the Royal Horse Artillery, with which he served in the Second Afghan War. On July 27, a 2,500-strong Anglo-Indian column met stinging defeat at Maiwand as a much larger Afghan force killed almost 1,000 men. The column retreated toward Kandahar but progress was slow. Supplies were short, and Collis left the force and risked ambush to collect water for the wounded.

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