War and disease

December 2014, Volume 53 No. 1
Better safe…

A number of readers have contacted us recently regarding the issue of storage of their collections, and more importantly, the security matters relating to that storage. In an ideal world we collectors may well wish to have our medals on display, neatly framed on the walls of our home to delight ourselves and be a talking point for our visitors. After all, these “collectables” are far more than simply possessions—many of us feel we owe a debt to the original recipient and thus a display may be considered a fitting homage to the man who first won them. However, this is not an ideal world and the space offered by modern living (coupled with the grumblings of our “better halves” who may not share our passion) means that we are lucky if we manage to get one or two of the best groups on the wall. even when space is not at a premium and the love of your life doesn’t complain too much there is always the issue of security to consider when thinking about mounting your medals for display. Whilst I am sure you can trust your cleaner/meter reader/delivery man, you simply don’t know who they may casually mention your frames to, and who they may mention them to, and so on. Before you know it half the population knows you have medals on display, and that can cause problems.

This is one reason why many insurance companies will insist that you keep your collection out of sight. But where and how do you do that? Different people have different ideas: some use a medal cabinet with drawers, which becomes a feature piece of furniture and allows ready access to your collection without them being on view to everybody. However, most cabinets are not lockable, so that still doesn’t help with the issue of security. Thankfully house burglaries are down in most countries in the Western world so security may not be top of the list for many, but even so an opportunist may still decide he likes the look of your place and break in looking for easily-saleable items and a quick rummage through a tempting-looking cabinet may well yield returns.

So what about a safe? If you have the space (and the money, as they aren’t always that cheap) then a safe, bolted to a concrete floor, is an excellent option—but do remember the construction of most safes means that the external dimensions are often far, far larger than the internal ones, so before you buy such a piece make sure you can fit your whole collection in there. Of course, safes take up a great deal of room and have to be sited correctly as they are pretty ugly things—smaller ones can be hidden but, as mentioned, they may be great for papers, bundles of notes and false passports (we’ve all seen the films!), but won’t necessarily accommodate many medal groups. You can always store your collection in a lockable box (old deed boxes are excellent), but again where to store that? The attic or hidden in a cupboard will deter opportunists but there’s always that niggle in the back of the mind that someone, at some point, will find it . . . and bang goes the collection.

This then leads on to the good old safety deposit box in the bank—not the ones of the movies: a small box for vital papers that you go into a locked room to open—but rather your own box deposited in the bank’s vaults for a small fee. This has the advantage of being very safe and secure and reduces your insurance premium (you do still need insurance as the bank’s insurance usually won’t cover it). However, the obvious disadvantage is that your collection isn’t readily accessible and, let’s face it, most of us like to look at our medals now and then! The other problem with the bank deposit solution is that it transpires many banks have stopped offering this facility, leaving us out in the cold. Self-storage units may be an alternative but they don’t seem quite safe enough to me, although I’m sure they are and I’m equally sure many users of such facilities will be quick to put my mind at ease, but there’s just something about them that doesn’t fill me with that much confidence—a fallacy I’m sure! So what else is there? How do you store your collection? Please do let us know and over the next few months we will pass your hints and tips on to fellow collectors (anonymously of course!). maybe somewhere out there is the perfect solution. Let’s hope so.

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In This Issue

SPOTLIGHT19
Conspicuous Gallantry Cross survey
The first 20 years of awards
CASEBOOK21
No Pinchbeck
A veteran of the Napoleonic wars
PROFILE25
A very superior rating
Four decades of service
TALKING MINIATURES29
From across the Pond
Queen’s Diamond Jubilee miniatures
INSIGHT31
Rebuilding Afghanistan
Difficult tasks in difficult times
MEDAL Of THE MONTH34
Army Gold Medal for Guadeloupe
Fighting war and disease
IN FOCUS35
The Royal Navy and the Kaiser’s U-Boats—IV
The Battle of Jutland and its aftermath
RESEARCHER’S NOTEBOOK43
Brothers-in-arms—II
An Irishman in the US Union Army
CENTENARY FACT FILE48
USA Victory Medal
A latecomer to the conflict

Regulars

The Editorial Page5
News & Views6
Market Scene11
Bookshelf51
On Parade52
Letters to the editor53
Medal Tracker54
Dealers’ Lists56
Semi-Display Advertising57
Classified Advertising58
Diary Dates60