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Defence of Kimberley Star: CM.1295-2009

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Mint: Kimberley
Issuer: Oliver, H. A.
State: South Africa




During the 1830s and 1840s several Dutch republics had been established outside the British Cape Colony in South Africa, among which were Transvaal and the Orange Free State, all now in modern South Africa. Transvaal was annexed briefly by the British but its independence re-established in the First Boer War.
In the 1880s however the discovery of vast gold reserves in Transvaal brought large numbers of foreign settlers, largely British, across the border, and an attempted coup at the instigation of Cecil Rhodes in 1895. Military escalation followed, negotiations failed and the two Boer republics, convinced that the British intended annexation, declared war in the Cape Colony in October 1899. The immediate result was the siege of British troops in Ladysmith, Mafeking and Kimberley, while field forces attempting to come to their relief were defeated in several open battles by Boer contingents. Kimberley, the first town to be relieved, could open its gates only in mid-February; Mafeking, famously, had to hold out until May.
Once Kimberley had been relieved, its mayor, H. A. Oliver, decided to show the town's gratitude to the surviving defenders by issuing this star. Although it bears the crown and royal monogram, it is not an official award and could not be worn in uniform; the official award was a bar to the Queen's South Africa Medal. The result is that the Star, rarely worn, is usually in excellent condition, which has made it a frequent target of imitation.
This example is unofficially engraved to Captain A. Ward, of the 21st Lancers. Lester Watson acquired it at some point before 1928.


History note: Gift of L. Hoyt Watson; ex Lester Watson Collection, acquired before 1928

Legal notes

Given by Lester Watson through Cambridge in America, 2009

Measurements and weight

Diameter: 40.5 mm
Weight: 17.52 g

Place(s) associated

  • Kimberley

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (2009) by Watson, Lester


1900 - 1902


Unofficially engraved

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production


Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: Kimberley town arms and motto in circle containing inscription, on six-pointed star with ball at each point

  • Text: KIMBERLEY / 1899-1900
  • Location: Obverse
  • Type: Design

Inscription present: Inscription

  • Text: MAYOR'S / SIEGE MEDAL / 1900
  • Location: Reverse
  • Type: Design

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: CM.1295-2009
Primary reference Number: 141389
Watson Catalogue: 198
Ordering: M-0178
Previous object number: LW.0178
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 15 January 2024 Last processed: Monday 15 January 2024

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Coins and Medals

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Defence of Kimberley Star" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-05-25 22:39:08

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{{cite web|url= |title=Defence of Kimberley Star |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-05-25 22:39:08|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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