cross was instituted in 1856 and is cast (not struck) from the
bronze of a Russian cannon captured during the Crimean War.
The cross is made and hand finished by the well-known
jewellers Messrs. Hancocks & Co., of Vigo Street, London
who receive the metal from the Ministry of Defence as
required. Strangely the firm does not make any other
medal or award.
the cross is cast (not struck as with most awards) the size of
original awards vary from one another as the length of the
cooling process of the metal is different every time one is
made. Most copies of this cross are either struck or
made by a cast from an original award (making it even smaller)
and collectors are unlikely to be fooled by them.
However some convincing fakes have been seen on the market in
recent years but since the whereabouts of most VC's is known
it is extremely unlikely that any fake would be sold as an
original at auction by mistake.
is well known that the VC today is the highest of all
decorations that can be won by any serviceman or woman
(civilians are also eligible under certain conditions), but
until 1902 this was not the case. Prior to Edward VII as
King the VC was often worn either after the relevant campaign
medal for which it was won or after other decorations such as
Royal Victorian Order.
next of kin of officers and men who would have won the VC but
were killed during the act that would have earned the award
did not receive the cross as is custom with campaign medals.
However in 1902 Edward VII decreed that posthumous awards
should be made for those killed during the Boer War and in
1907 this was made retrospective for others who would have won
the award before that date.
the ribbon is worn without the cross a miniature VC emblem is
worn at the centre. In 1917 it was stipulated that for
second awards a second miniature VC could be worn on the
ribbon when the actual cross is not worn itself.
one of the most valuable VCs of all time would be that awarded
to Lieutenant John Chard of the Royal Engineers in 1879.
Chard had been the officer in command of the defence of
Rorke's Drift during the Zulu War which is also the battle in
which the largest number of VC's (11 in total) have ever been
awarded for a single action. However the whereabouts of
Chard's VC is unknown and his family have only a replica.