Produced by the Australian silversmiths 'Hardy Bros' the reverse reads, "In grateful remembrance of his exertions during the Great Flood of March 1875"

  • The story of ‘Noah’s Ark and the Flood’ is one of the more evocative narratives in the ‘Book of Genesis.’ The story goes that a vengeful God, after warning the righteous Noah to build a huge Ark to save his close family and a breeding pair of each of the world’s creatures, unleashed 40 days and 40 nights of continual rain that flooded the Earth and swept away its depravity. Despite the cocked brow of the scientific community, Bible scholars still scour the earth for the final resting place of the Ark where a new chapter of life supposedly began. Why not Australia one might ask with its strangely evolved fauna (think the duck-billed platypus), its sparse dry landscape much like the ‘Holy land’ and a vengeful climate that periodically unleashes the wrath of fire, flood and famine in biblical proportions? In 1875 it was the turn of a ‘Great Flood’ to wash away the farming community of the Paterson District west of Newcastle. It was the biggest recorded up until that time and ‘the Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser’ labelled it a “fearful flood” following on from a month of showery weather that culminated in a week of torrential rain which fell in “perfect sheets of water.” After ‘forty days’ of rain vulnerable buildings were destroyed along with livestock and the district’s crops of maize and tobacco. The paper reported “that large quantities of property of every description have been noticed to have been swept down by the fearful torrent of water” including a “continuous stream of pumpkins.” Able-bodied locals toiled day and night to rescue people stranded by the rising waters and the ‘Advertiser’ reported that “throughout Sunday Night and all day on Monday, Senior Constable James Wells, and Constable William Mayo, of our police force, who, with Messrs Thomas Lindsay, Boyle, White and Frederick Wilson formed the boat’s crew, were mostly actively engaged in rendering assistance in removing flooded-out residents from dwellings to places of safety.” Wells himself lost his footing on one occasion and was nearly swept away to his death before he was able to desperately grasp a branch and be pulled to safety. Amazingly, the only reported casualty of ‘the Flood’ was the local member of the Legislative Council, William Munnings Arnold who tragically drowned while trying to save a boatload of pumpkins, which were probably fished from the fast-flowing waters. It seems that sometimes you just have to let them go. In December 1875 Sergeant Wells and five other principal members of the boat’s crew were presented with bravery medals for their heroics during ‘the Flood.’ The hand-engraved silver discs were crafted by the famous silversmiths Hardy Brothers of Hunter Street, Sydney. This month Smalls Auctions offers the medal presented in gratitude to “Sergeant James Wells” by “the residents of the Paterson District.”
  • Dimensions:
  • Diameter 42mm
  • Exhibited:
  • 393
  • Literature:
  • Collectibles
  • Medium:
  • Coins, Monies & Stamps
  • Circa:
  • Medals, Commemorative

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July 24, 2022 12:00 PM AEST
Sydney, Australia

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