“LABOR OMNIA VINCIT” (Work Conquers All) is the wording round the image of Darlington’s famous Locomotion No 1 engine on this 9ct gold medallion, which features in our auction on Tuesday.

On the reverse is a well-executed image of Bulmers Stone, the famous landmark in Northgate that is said once to have been the boundary of the town.

It is believed that on April 19, 1821, George Stephenson stopped to tie his shoelaces on the stone before he went over the road to meet Edward Pease in his house to discuss the forthcoming Stockton and Darlington Railway.

Hallmarked for Birmingham 1919 this piece is comfortably just over the 100 years. Because of the railway connection, there are many souvenirs from the 1925 centenary of the railway which show the engine and the stone, but these are usually wall plaques.

This medal could have been attached to a watch albert – a chain that connected a pocketwatch to a buttonhole in a waistcoat and was popularised by Prince Albert – and so would have been knocked about year after year.

But not this one. It is in very good condition.

The value of gold and silver fluctuates greatly on the bullion market and unfortunately gold items like this one can get caught up in the frenzy. Over my many years as an auctioneer, I’ve seen many fine pieces of antique silver and gold end up in the melting pot. Some people argue that this makes the pieces that escape such a fate more valuable but, alas, that has not been my experience. When gold and silver prices are up it’s usually the result of the bullion market reacting to some worldwide news.

Today this little piece of 102-year-old treasure is worth about £180 as scrap gold, so we must hope that bidders after a genuine piece of local history make sure it exceeds this figure!

Peter Robinson,

Thomas Watson Auctioneers, Darlington

The next sale is 10am on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. Viewing over the weekend is by appointment. Go to www.thomaswatson.com for more details