Antiques Roadshow guest speechless after valuation of pigeons medal

Antiques Roadshow: Expert values a Dickin Medal

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In a resurfaced episode of Antiques Roadshow, Paul Atterbury was presented with a “truly rare” medal which was bestowed upon a pigeon who escaped a plane crash in World War Two and found its way home. The bird was affectionately named Cologne and was the recipient of a Dickin Medal for its bravery. The BBC guest who owned the medal was stunned when she discovered how much it could fetch at auction. 

Paul began: “Now, I know you have discussed the story of Cologne, the great pigeon with Fiona [Bruce].

“I heard about this story and it is wonderful to me for two reasons. 

“One, I have never held a Dickin Medal before and it’s somehow very powerful when you know what went on and what the story was like, and how that extraordinary pigeon achieved so much to justify this medal. 

“Superficially, giving medals to animals makes you think, ‘Well why?’

“But this is exactly why, and of course, it is important to remember that the Dickin Medal goes on being awarded as animals are still doing extraordinary things as they always have done. 

“This is the only way we can acknowledge that.”

He revealed the other aspect which excited him was that the medal was “very rare” and from a “great period in history”. 

This made the item “very valuable” Paul told his guest who was eager to know how much it was worth. 

Paul revealed: “Such a medal is likely to fetch around £10,000. Did you know that?”

His guest was speechless and started smiling in disbelief before saying: “No, not as much as that. We didn’t realise it would be worth as much as that.”

Paul replied: “They are truly rare and, of course, it is all to do with the story. 

“So he was a wonderful pigeon, you could say he was the most expensive pigeon ever.” 

The crowd which had gathered around Paul started chuckling following his quip about the pricey bird. 

The Dickin Medal was instituted in 1943 by Maria Dickin to honour the work of animals during the war. 

It is a bronze medallion which bears the words “for gallantry” and “we also serve” within a wreath. 

The medal is carried on a striped green, brown and light blue ribbon and it has been awarded to various animals associated with any branch of the Armed Forces or Civil Defence Units. 

Dogs, cats, pigeons and horses have been awarded the medal over the decades. 

The first recipients of the accolade were three pigeons serving with the Royal Air Force in 1943. 

They contributed to the recovery of aircrews from an abandoned aircraft. 

Antiques Roadshow episodes are available to stream on BBC iPlayer. 

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