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Auction: 24001 - Orders, Decorations and Medals
Lot: 46

The Queen's South Africa Medal awarded to War Correspondent Mr W. Pontin, who was a reporter for the Melbourne Age during the Second Boer War

Queen's South Africa 1899-1902, no clasp (Mr. W. Pontin. "Melbourne Age."), a couple of light edge bruises, otherwise very fine

Walter Pontin was one of three War Correspondents from the Melbourne Age, the two other Correspondents were G. M. King and W. J. Lambie. Pontin's Medal was issued on 18 April 1903.

The Age was founded by three Melbourne businessmen: brothers John and Henry Cooke (who had arrived from New Zealand in the 1840s) and Walter Powell. The first edition appeared on 17 October 1854. The venture was not initially a success, and in June 1856 the Cookes sold the paper to Ebenezer Syme, a Scottish-born businessman, and James McEwan, an ironmonger and founder of McEwans & Co, for £2,000 at auction. The first edition under the new owners came out on 17 June 1856. From its foundation the paper was self-consciously liberal in its politics: "aiming at a wide extension of the rights of free citizenship and a full development of representative institutions", and supporting "the removal of all restrictions upon freedom of commerce, freedom of religion and—to the utmost extent that is compatible with public morality—upon freedom of personal action".

Ebenezer Syme was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly shortly after buying The Age, and his brother David Syme soon came to dominate the paper, editorially and managerially. When Ebenezer died in 1860 David became editor-in-chief, a position he retained until his death in 1908, although a succession of editors did the day-to-day editorial work.

In 1882 The Age published an eight-part series written by journalist and future physician George E. Morrison, who had sailed, undercover, for the New Hebrides, while posing as crew of the brigantine slave ship, Lavinia, as it made cargo of Kanakas. By October the series was also being published in The Age's weekly companion magazine, the Leader. "A Cruise in a Queensland Slaver. By a Medical Student" was written in a tone of wonder, expressing "only the mildest criticism"; six months later, Morrison "revised his original assessment", describing details of the schooner's blackbirding operation, and sharply denouncing the slave trade in Queensland. His articles, letters to the editor, and newspaper's editorials, led to expanded government intervention.

In 1891, Syme bought out Ebenezer's heirs and the McEwans and became sole proprietor. He built up The Age into Victoria's leading newspaper. In circulation, it soon overtook its rivals The Herald and The Argus, and by 1890 it was selling 100,000 copies a day, making it one of the world's most successful newspapers.

Sold together with the following original correspondence:

Miner's Right for Gundagai, New South Wales, dated 9 June 1897.

Newspaper cutting from 19 September 1896 relating to Pontin in his capacity as ex-secretary of the Williamstown Model Yacht club leaving for England on the Oceana.

Note from De Aar Assistant Magistrates Office, dated 17 December 1899 stating that Pontin who was attached to Mr Villiers was allowed to remain at De Aar, this was further extended to 31 December 1899.

A Demand for Transport dated 6 January 1900 for Pontin to travel from Belmont to Modder River and return, on business for Mr Villiers.

Note from De Aar Assistant Resident Magistrate's office dated 20 January 1900, stating he is again attached to Mr Villiers and is permitted to remain at De Aar until Mr Villiers whim.

Letter from the Censors office, Cape Town, dated 16 February 1900, confirming Pontin as War Correspondent for the Melbourne Age, taking over from W. J. Lambie who had died in service. It further states that they were unable to give him his Licence because Lord Stanley had taken all the Licences up to Modder River and no fresh ones are yet printed. A Licence was arranged at Arundel Camp on 22 February 1900.

Note dated 16 March 1900 allowing Pontin to proceed to De Aar on private affairs making note he is attached to the Australian Regiment.

Note from De Aar Assistant Resident Magistrate's Office dated 23 March 1900, allowing Pontin to travel by rail to Cape Town.

A letter to Pontin from Ruall who was the Chief Sub Editor of the Daily Telegraph Newspaper Company Limited, Sydney, dated 6 June 1901.

A letter written by Frederick Villiers, dated 22 August 1901, thanking him for the work he had done for him as advance agent.

A leter from The Age Office, Melbourne, dated 23 August 1901 thanking him for his work.

A letter from Headquarters Victorian Military Forces, Victoria Barracks, dated 24 August 1901.

A letter from George Rolling of the Cape Argus, Cape Town, dated 18 September 1901, recommending Pontin for his work.

A letter from the Daily Mail, Brisbane, dated 4 August 1909, recommending Pontin who had worked there as Sub Editor.

A letter from Maharajadhiraja Bahadur of Burdwan, dated 19 December 1931, thanking Raymond & Whitcomb Company for the services of Pontin for his recent trip to New York and back.

A letter to Pontin from Barnes Wallis, dated 30 August 1940, relating to the use of searchlights in fighter aircraft.

A certificate relating to Pontin having travelled on the ship King Harald.

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