First recipient of the Australian VC

March 2009, Volume 47 No. 3
All the fun of the fair

YOU will forgive me, I hope, if I use this “comment” to once again plug the forthcoming Britannia Medal Fair on March 29. I realise there are other medal related things going on and they do deserve a mention, but just for this month please indulge me because we truly believe that this is quite important!

After I had announced in the February issue that we at MEDAL NEWS were taking over the Britannia Medal Fair we had a flood of emails, letters and ‘phone calls from dealers and collectors alike all wishing us the best of luck, pledging their support and promising they would attend. The dealers have been as good as their word and as you will see from the feature on pages 28–29 we have a full house for our inaugural show—and I am sure that all the readers who have promised to come along will honour their pledges too—it should be a good day!

Of course, the vast majority of correspondence came from those who had visited the Britannia Fair in the past—they were all keen that the event should continue so that London, indeed the UK, shouldn’t lose such a specialist event, however a few missives of goodwill came from those who had never visited the show at all, and in some cases from people who had never visited a medal fair of any kind. And that got me thinking.

I have always assumed that most collectors are like me, inasmuch that they will do everything they can to add to their collection, take every opportunity to seek out their next acquisition and explore every avenue to ensure that they get as many bites of the cherry as possible, but that plainly isn’t the case. Whilst most of us do indeed collect like that, there are still others who collect very differently. Some will only deal with one trusted dealer, others will only buy at auction, some will only buy on-line and others only via mail order—now these methods are all well and good but may I venture to say that if you do only collect in one particular way then really you’re missing out. All the methods mentioned will yield good returns, of course they will, but if you don’t combine one or two of them then can you really be sure that you are really getting the best out of the market? Probably not, in which case I ask, what better way to expand your collecting ways than with a trip to a medal fair? Britannia specifically!

Of course, no medal fair will be perfect but when you have a large number of experienced and helpful dealers, not to mention fellow collectors, in one place then you’ll be amazed at what you can learn and see. But what is that exactly? Just what can a medal show bring to the average collector? Just what can you expect if you turn up to the Victory Services Club on what I hope will be a balmy spring day? What can the virgin fair-goer expect? Well, the first thing, of course, is medals—lots and lots of medals. We have dealers from up and down the country taking tables at Britannia—some of the best known and respected dealers in the country will be there and all will have some fantastic stock with them. Every aspect of collecting will be catered for and just about every permutation of this fascinating hobby will be covered. Whether your interest is Victorian singles, World War I gallantry or modern campaign groups (or indeed anything) you WILL find something of interest—whether you decide to buy it or not will be up to you!

As well as the medals you will also find a lot of camaraderie—most collectors, us at MEDAL NEWS included, realise that actually we’re all in this together and that helping each other really is one of the great plusses of this hobby. Britannia has always been a great place to come to meet fellow collectors and share stories and information and we really want that to continue—there’s a great bar at the Carisbrooke Hall and decent catering too, so why not sit and chat to collectors who share your interests over lunch or a cup of coffee? And as if a sea of medals that you can actually look at and handle and a chance to meet fellow collectors who share the very same passions as you wasn’t enough, there will also be the opportunity to meet some of your favourite authors and experts, get your copy of their book signed or maybe just ask them a question or two (see pages 28–29 for who’s attending). You’ll also have the chance to win £100 to spend at any one of the dealers stalling out at the show—either on the day or for up to six months later—what more could you want!? But don’t take my word for it, come along on the 29th, come and visit us at Britannia; if you’re a MEDAL NEWS reader it’s completely free (don’t worry if you lose your ticket—just tell us on the day that you’re a reader and we’ll sort it out), so what have you got to lose? And if you have never been to a medal fair before then you could do worse than take this one as your first experience. Go on, give it a go—you may well be pleasantly surprised—we’ll do our best to ensure that you are!

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In This Issue

ON GUARD16
Caveat Emptor
A cautionary tale for web surfers
COLLECTOR'S NOTEBOOK18
From servant to gentleman
One man's rise through the ranks
INSIGHT20
Trooper Colbeck
Absent without leave for an African adventure
CASEBOOK25
Researching a hero of Thiepval
Following a paper trail to a hero
SPECIAL FEATURE28
The Britannia Medal Fair
Highlighting our first Britannia Medal Fair on March 29, 2009
SPOTLIGHT31
Retreat from Empire - Malta
The ending of a 178 year association
BACKGROUND34
Rhodesian Medal Awards
The awards of a short-lived country
UPDATE39
RAF Boy Entrants Scheme
A special medal in commemoration

Regulars

THE EDITORIAL PAGE5
NEWS AND VIEWS6
MARKET SCENE11
BOOKSHELF41
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR43
ON PARADE44
DEALERS' LISTS45
MEDAL TRACKER46
CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING49
DIARY53