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When it comes to collectibles, I have always said – “buy the best”, and they rarely come better than this.

Freelance copy for a Stanley Gibbons Ltd investment newsletter. Brief was to describe the history of the medal and it’s unique story, as well as the investment potential in order to encourage investors to purchase it. 

Let us step back in time for a moment. Can you remember back to your first year at secondary school, when the most daunting thought was double French on a Friday afternoon? Have you got all your pens and pencils? Yes, well let me explain.

Secondary school is intimidating time for most twelve year olds. Yet, as I’m sure you’ll agree, participation in one of the most ferocious naval battles in history might just trump the horrors of double French.

Here’s where the story begins…

William Shepherd astonishingly spent his thirteenth year serving aboard the Royal Naval ship Temeraire at the battle of Trafalgar as a first class volunteer. Aged only twelve, his position – a ranking officer, yes an officer – meant he could have quite easily been in charge of men not twice, but four maybe five times his age!

His morning inventory check would have been oceans away from yours – less pens and pencils, more cannon balls and gunpowder. At the very same age you were learning your le’s from your la’s, Shepherd was commanding blood-soaked decks amidst a storm of incoming shot.

The Temeraire immortalised by Turner’s “The Fighting Temeraire” occupies a revered position in the history of the British navy, second only to the HMS Victory. In the heat of battle she selflessly rammed the Redoutable – the French flagship – rescuing Victory from being boarded in the process. This herculean gesture left her vulnerably caught between two French ships: Redoutable and Fougueux. One lashed on each side, she fought them both to a standstill until they surrendered!

The Temeraire’s Captain, Eliab Harvey described Shepherds conduct: “he behaved with great courage, and has been admired by us all”. Indeed, this watershed moment sparked an impressive career. Shepherd went on to see action in Amelia in 1809, in L’Amazone and Fort Winnebah on the African coast in 1811, and Iles de Los in 1813 where he would have received a promotion to Lieutenant, if not for his age. He retired as a Vice-Admiral in 1865.

Now the opportunity to admire the endeavours of this heroic young officer is not solely resigned to those aboard the Temeraire. Shepherd’s Naval General Service medal is available for you today. Not only a desirable addition to any medal collection, this unique piece is a magnificent trophy asset for your portfolio.

Twenty years ago, the retail on a premium medal such as this would have been approximately £3500 to £3800. Today, at £22,950, Shepherd’s medal has shown a steady growth of 10% per annum.

For a full account of Shepherd’s amazing endeavours click here.

I am often asked what make a great collectible – the rarity? The investment potential? It’s history? Maybe even the piece’s romance? Sometimes you’re lucky enough to get all of the above.

If the remarkable story of William Shepherd has got your attention please register your interest with Mark Facey at mfacey@stanleygibbons.com. Alternatively, call him directly at +44 (0)20 7557 4424.

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