Ashanti Star, 1896Image["Ashanti Star, 1896"]
Obverse, a central crown with inscription aroundImage["Ashanti Star, 1896"]
Ashanti Star, 1896
The Ashanti Confederation, which had existed since 1695, was from 1888 ruled by King Prempeh I, who pursued a determined policy of independence while considerably expanding his empire. In 1896 however, Britain, alleging Ashanti cannibalism and human sacrifice, and under the pretext of recovering a debt that the previous ruler had incurred to the British twenty years before, sent forces into the Ashanti capital of Kumase, in modern-day Ghana. Prempeh, in order to avoid bloodshed, offered no resistance and allowed himself to be deposed. He was exiled by the British, but was allowed to return as a private citizen in 1924.
This star, which combines a four-pointed star with the cross of St Andrew and is struck from gun-metal, was awarded to the troops who took part in the 1896 expedition that took Kumase. It was reportedly designed by Princess Henry of Battenburg, Queen Victoria's youngest daughter Beatrice, whose husband Prince Henry of Battenburg died of illness contracted on this campaign.
It is unnamed, and the recipient therefore unknown. Lester Watson purchased it from the London dealer Spink at some point before 1928.