'Lucky' penny which saved life of Derbyshire First World War soldier up for sale at auction

Private John Trickett. Picture: Hansons Auctioneers.
Private John Trickett. Picture: Hansons Auctioneers.

A ‘lucky’ penny which saved the life of a Derbyshire First World War soldier is to go under the hammer.

Private John Trickett kept the penny made in 1889 in the breast pocket of his soldier’s uniform as a reminder of life at home.

The penny which saved Private Trickett's life. Picture: Hansons.

The penny which saved Private Trickett's life. Picture: Hansons.

During the dreadful conflict which claimed 10 million soldiers’ lives, including those of his two brothers, the coin took the full impact of a German bullet, brutally bending under the force but ultimately deflecting the danger as it ricocheted up through his nose and went out through the back of his ear. It left him deaf and disabled but still alive.

The dented penny, which displays the bullet’s deep mark of penetration, has been found by Derbyshire’s Hansons Auctioneers’ militaria expert Adrian Stevenson.

Mr Stevenson said: “It looks to me like a pistol bullet hit the penny at close range. I’ve come across many stories of random objects saving soldiers’ lives but I’ve never seen anything like this before.

“Soldiers used to keep objects in their breast pockets in an attempt to protect themselves from enemy fire and explosions. Shrapnel was the biggest killer in wartime.

Private Trickett's war medals will also be up for auction. Picture: Hansons.

Private Trickett's war medals will also be up for auction. Picture: Hansons.

“It’s likely John Trickett kept the penny there on purpose.

“He was honourably discharged from the Northamptonshire Regiment on September 7, 1918, shortly before the 1914-18 war ended.

“The penny is a poignant reminder of the fine line between life and death, particularly in wartime.”

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First World War belt buckle with shrapnel embedded.

First World War belt buckle with shrapnel embedded.

The penny is part of a collection of war-related ephemera belonging to Pt Trickett which includes his British War Medal and Victory Medal. The collection will be sold at Derbyshire’s

Hansons Auctioneers on March 22 with an estimate of £30 to £50.

The items are being sold by Mr Trickett’s granddaughter, Maureen Coulson, 63, from Duffield.

She said: “My granddad was born in 1899 and would have been around 19 years old when the incident happened. He had to come home because of the injury.

First World War hip flask with shrapnel embedded. Picture: Hansons.

First World War hip flask with shrapnel embedded. Picture: Hansons.

“We think it’s likely he signed up to serve in the army when he was under age as he looked older than he was.

“It’s strange to think that, but for that penny, his children would not have been born and I wouldn’t be here.”

When he returned to the UK Mr Trickett went on to marry his wife Clementine and they had eight children. He died at the age of 63 in 1962 from a heart attack.

The auction is at Hansons Auctioneers in Etwall on March 22.

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