Donald MacPherson’s Medals and Trophies For Sale at Auction – Updated

D-McP-in-evening-wearThe medals and trophies belonging to one of the greatest pipers of all time are to go on sale to the general public. Donald MacPherson’s unprecedented collection of Northern Meeting Clasps, Silver Stars and trophies representing his 15 Senior Piobaireachd wins at the Argyllshire Gathering will go on sale at auction in October. 

The picture above shows one of the six Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society Silver Stars won by Donald along with one of his nine Clasps, one of his Gold Medals and a trophy presented to him by the Argyllshire Gathering.

The trophy presented to the Argyllshire Gathering by piobaireachd scholar and enthusiast Archie Kenneth and subsequently awarded to Donald MacPherson
The trophy presented to the Argyllshire Gathering by piobaireachd scholar and enthusiast Archie Kenneth and subsequently awarded to Donald MacPherson

The selling agents are Scotland’s oldest fine art auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull, Edinburgh. The medals and trophies will form part of their Silver & Jewellery auction in Edinburgh on October 14. The collection will be on show in the Heritage Tent at the Argyllshire Gathering at Mossfield Park on Thursday and at the Caledonian Club in London throughout September.

Other details:  The collection will be offered together, with an estimate of £12,000 – £18,000; Auction: Jewellery, Watches & Silver; October 14th 2015 Edinburgh; Viewing: The auction will be available to view in Edinburgh from Sunday 11th October until the sale day; Contact details for enquiries Trevor Kyle | Specialist 0131 557 8844 | trevor.kyle@lyonandturnbull.com; www.lyonandturnbull.com

The auctioneers’ blurb reads: ‘Described as ‘the most successful competitive piper in history’, Donald MacPherson’s long career saw him winning the Highland Society of London’s Gold Medal for Piobaireachd in his first outing at the Argyllshire Gathering in 1948 when aged only 25. Remarkably, the same afternoon, he followed that success by winning the senior Open Piobaireachd event.

‘Forty-two years later, and with over 30 awards at the major gatherings in Oban and Inverness, Donald MacPherson retired from competition. Typically his final bow came with his 15th win – a record – in the same senior event he had first captured in 1948.

One of Donald's nine Clasps, suitably engraved with his name
One of Donald’s nine Clasps, suitably engraved with his name

‘At the Northern Meeting in Inverness in 1954 he won both the Highland Society of London’s Gold Medal for Piobaireachd and the Gold Medal and Clasp (for former winners of the medal). He subsequently won the Clasp on a further eight other occasions.  ‘It is nice to win anywhere’, he once said, ‘but win at Oban and Inverness and you go into the history books.’ 

‘His career as an engineer obliged him to live much of his life outwith his homeland, and his playing in the capital won him the Scottish Piping Society of London’s coveted Bratach Gorm (Blue Banner) on three occasions. 

‘Brought up in Glasgow, MacPherson was a young piper with the Glasgow Shepherds Pipe Band but was taught solely by his father, Iain, himself taught by the celebrated Pipe Major John MacDougall Gillies. 

‘Donald’s skill and musicianship brought him recognition all over the world. Awarded the BEM for services to piping, he was official piper to the Lord Provost of Glasgow, Honorary piper to the City of Savannah in Georgia and was inducted to the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame in 2006. The noted piping judge, Major General Frank Richardson, once averred, ‘I would go 20 miles to hear a piper, but I would go 120 miles to hear Donald MacPherson’.

The full list of what is included in the sale is as follows:

  • The Argyllshire Gathering Open Competition for Piobaireachd, 1955, won by MacPherson in 1955, 1956, 1962 and retained as winning out right, a twin handled trophy and cover, engraved.
  • The Oban Times Piobaireachd Trophy, won 1946, twin handled vase and cover, engraved.
    John MacDonald Trophy.
  • The Scotway Piobaire Os Cionn Chaich, 1984, a silver quaich of traditional form, engraved.
  • Argyllshire Gathering Trophy presented by John Graham Campbell of Shirvan, in Piobaireachd, won 1954, of open twin handled octagonal form, pedestal foot.
  • The Flora MacDonald Award, won 1965, cased, by Garrard in 14ct gold, tartan ribbon.
  • The Champion Medal of The Highland Society of London, two medals, 1948 (Oban) and 1954 Northern Meeting), both 1st Piobaireached, 9ct gold, blue cloth ribbon and bar clasp.
  • The Eagle Pipers Society, 1971, yellow ribbon, bar clasp pin.
  • Eagle Piper’s Society Macrae medal, 1974, silver, purple ribbon, silver bar clasp.
  • Northern Meeting ‘gold’ clasps a unique group of eight, 1st prize Piobaireached, silver gilt, engraved.
  • Rothiemurchus Silver Medal, won 1965, others undated, silver, engraved, three with pin bar clasps.
  • The Cowal gold medal, a unique group of six 1938, 9ct gold and engraved, the others silver gilt and enamel.
  • Northern Meeting, 1960, M S and Reel; 1962, M S and reel; 1964, M S and Reel; 1965, M S and Reel; 1974 M S and Reel; 1977; Oban, 1951, Marches open; 1952, open Strathspey and Reel; all silver and London 1965, M S and Reel in bronze.
  • Oban Times gold medal, 1956, 1st Piobaireachd, 9ct gold, blue ribbon.
  • Eagle Pipers Society pendant silver medal.
  • Scottish Pipers Association 1st Piobaireachd, P. Henderson silver medal.
  • Shoulder Brooch, 1980, ‘Piper above All Others’ of circular form, Celtic bosses, engraved.
  • Chatsworth and Wellington Country fairs;1985 x 3, 1986 x 2, white and gilt metal.
  • The Macrae Challenge Trophy won 1980, plated three handled form, engraved.
  • The Cardhu London Piping Championship Trophy, 1984, modelled as a standing piper, wood plinth

Donald MacPherson died in April 2012. His world-renowned bagpipe was auctioned two years ago and raised a five figure sum. Read more about the maestro in our Famous Pipers column here. Listen to his playing: