Original British Second Boer War Named Queen's South Africa Medal with 4 Clasps

Item Description

Original Item: One-of-a-kind. One of the most-collected Victorian period medals is the Queen’s South Africa Medal (QSA), awarded to approximately 178,000 British Army, Royal Navy and colonial troops (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India and South Africa) who served in the Boer War in South Africa between October 11, 1899, and May 31, 1902.

The Queen’s South Africa Medal provides the collector an excellent opportunity to study the Boer War through the individuals who participated in it. Because nearly each example is inscribed around the rim with the soldier’s name, rank and unit, the collector can research individuals’ war records and regimental activities.

The majority of the British regiments and corps participated in the Boer War, as well as large contingents of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. Furthermore, the multitude of Colonial and local units were also awarded this medal. This, in addition to the variety of clasps issued, produced an area of great diversity to fascinate the collector.

The QSA was minted in both silver and bronze. Measuring 36mm in diameter, it is mounted on a swiveling suspension with a double-toe claw. The obverse depicts the veiled head of Queen Victoria below the legend, VICTORIA REGINA ET IMPERATRIX. The reverse depicts battleships standing offshore a coastal landscape where an advancing army column approaches the figure of Britannia who is holding a flag and offering a wreath, all below the legend SOUTH AFRICA.

This example is known as a Type III. The third type reverse was minted without dates. Britannia’s wreath points towards the letter F of AFRICA.

The second obvious factor determining value of a QSA are the types of clasps adorning the medal. There were 26 different clasps available for issue with the QSA that can be divided into three categories: state, battle and date.

State clasps were issued for service within a particular region when no battle clasp(s) was issued to the recipient for a specific action within that state. This QSA has the following State clasps:

Cape Colony Awarded to troops serving in Cape Colony between October 11, 1899, and May 31, 1902

Orange Free State Awarded to troops serving in Orange River Colony any time from February 28, 1900, to May 21, 1902

Finally, there were two date clasps awarded for those who served but were not eligible for the King’s Medal. This QSA bears both:
South Africa 1901
South Africa 1902

This medal is nicely named to include the soldier’s roll number, initial of first name, surname, rank and unit. It reads:


Corbett was a Lance Corporal in the Fusiliers. A very nice example of a rare medal, named and complete with 4 clasps.

History of the Boer Wars:
The Boer Wars is the name used to refer to the armed conflicts in South Africa between descendants of Dutch settlers (the Boers) and British colonists. Following the first Boer War of 1880-81, the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, William Gladstone, granted the Boers self-government in the Transvaal.

However, the Boers, under the leadership of Paul Kruger, resented the policies of Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain and High Commissioner and Governor-General of the Cape Alfred Milner. Fearing the Transvaal would be denied independence, the Boers acquired military equipment from Germany. Between October 1899 and January 1900, Boer insurgents conducted a series of successful raids across the Transvaal border into the Cape Colony and Natal. Although the Boers only fielded 88,000 soldiers, they were able to successfully besiege the British garrisons at Ladysmith, Mafeking and Kimberley.

After Army reinforcements arrived in South Africa in 1900, British command launched a series of counter offensives to relieve the garrisons. In addition, British forces seized control of the Boer capital, Pretoria.

For the following 21 months, bands of Boer commandos conducted a series of bitter raids against isolated British troops. Lord Kitchener, the Chief of Staff in South Africa, reacted by destroying Boer farms and moving civilians into prison camps. Leading Liberal politicians (and most of the independent Labour Party) strongly opposed British actions in South Africa calling them the worst excesses of imperialism.

Finally, in May 1902, a peace was achieved with the signing of the Treaty of Vereenigin. The settlement dissolved the Boer Republics of Transvaal and the Orange Free State. However, the British conceded to the Boers £3 million for restocking and repairing farm lands and promised eventual self-government (that was finally granted in 1907).

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