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Philanthropic Auctioneer Brings Medal Glory Home to Wales

Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions, a UK ‘top 5’ auctioneer, have followed a long tradition of philanthropic endeavour and brought a Welsh ruby hero’s Triple Crown medal back home to Wales. The long-forgotten medal, presented to Algernon Frank Hill, celebrated forward and rugby captain for Wales in 1893, has been tucked away in a chest of drawers in Sydney, Australia for the past thirty years.

Triple Medal presented to Algernon Frank Hill, celebrated forward and rugby captain for Wales in 1893
Triple Medal presented to Algernon Frank Hill, celebrated forward and rugby captain for Wales in 1893
The Triple Crown (Irish: An Choróin Triarach; Scottish Gaelic: An Crùn Trìblite; Welsh: Y Goron Drifflyg) is a medal awarded in Rugby Union, held annually by the four national teams of the United Kingdom, England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. If any one of those four teams wins all their matches against the other three, they win the Triple Crown. Nicknamed the ‘Sam Warburton’ of his day Hill led the Welsh side to beat all the other home nations hands-down in their 1893 victory. This was the first time this feat had been achieved and the one and only time a medal like this was struck.

Inherited by the owner, Mark Lanning, from his father (godson of Frank Hill), the medal is one of only two known to have survived from a batch of seventeen produced. Mr. Lanning appointed Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions to oversee the sale of the medal in the hope that they would be able to facilitate the delivery of the item back to Wales; which he believed would have been his late father’s wish.

Richard Madley, Senior Director of Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions, commented:

“I recognised it straight away as being a rare medal. I’ve been handling rugby memorabilia for 25 years and I’ve only ever seen one or two others of that ilk, but none as early as this. As soon as I knew the vendor was keen to see this medal return home to Wales we started approaching various institutions to see who might be interested in having the medal for an exhibit”

Interest in the medal came from the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame who managed to raise half the £3,000 asking price. Richard approached the board of Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions parent company, Noble Investments (UK) PLC, who agreed to donate the remaining £1,500 to ensure this historical piece could be enjoyed by sporting fans for generations to come.

Richard Madley commented, “If it hadn’t been for the generosity of both the vendor and Noble Investments (UK) PLC, this medal would have been offered for sale on the open market and would have been rendered unaffordable for the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame. The response from our Managing Director was an unequivocal “yes”. ”

Ian Goldbart, Managing Director of Noble Investments (UK) PLC added:

“It has been a wonderful journey getting this medal back home to Wales and Noble are proud to have been involved in the process from the outset. The world of auctions is a very commercial business and so we are delighted to have been able to assist in this philanthropic endeavour.”

The medal was presented by Richard Madley to Rhodri Morgan, Chairman of the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame and former First Minister of Wales, in a ceremony at the Cardiff Athletic Club’s ‘Rugby Museum’ in Wales yesterday.

“It is great news that the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame has been able to secure this priceless piece of Welsh sporting history for the Welsh nation,” said Mr. Morgan. There could be no more fitting place for Frank Hill’s medal to be on display than at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff in our exhibition.
“As a charity organisation we rely on benefactors to help us in our work and the outstanding generosity of Noble Investments (UK) PLC in helping us to pay for this medal cannot be overstated. They have set an example which I hope other major organisation can learn from. We are deeply indebted to them.”
The Triple Crown medal will be temporarily displayed at the Rugby Museum from which it will move to at the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales where it will reside on permanent exhibition.

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