Medal of Merit

February 2016, Volume 54 No. 2
Fair assessment

A FEW years ago, as I am sure some of you remember, there was a Party Political Broadcast for the Liberal Democrat party that had John Cleese quoting a recent poll that had shown that more people (indeed 50 per cent of those questioned) would vote Lib Dem if they thought they had a chance of getting into power. This perplexed the venerable Python as he couldn’t understand why people didn’t get the fact that if more of them voted Lib Dem then the party WOULD win—indeed they’d have the biggest landslide in Political history—but they weren’t voting because they didn’t think the party had a chance . . . you can understand his confusion. The same thing seems to be happening now with certain people in the medal hobby when it comes to shows and fairs. As the internet changes the way we collect, so too is it changing fairs across the country (indeed the world), but that doesn’t mean fairs are a thing of the past, far from it; they are now, and should remain, an integral part of the hobby but for many the cry seems to be “if they were busier I’d go along” . . . hmmm . . .

The simple fact is, that if a fair is to survive it needs the right number of dealers and the right number of collectors in attendance. If the collectors stop going then the dealers will find it’s not worth their while “stalling out”. If the dealers aren’t there then the collectors don’t come . . . and so the downward spiral continues. This has happened time and again and as it does so either the fair disappears or it becomes, in essence, a small club for a select few. Now we at MEDAL NEWS are no longer involved in running a show so this is very much an unbiased opinion, but we do attend them regularly and would hate to see them become a thing of the past but, like John Cleese with the Lib Dems, we are confused when we hear people say they’d go along if there were more dealers/collectors there. The only way to ensure there are more collectors/dealers is to actually go along and make it happen—and go along more than once! If a thousand collectors turn up to a show word will get out, dealers will be clamouring to attend, there will be a waiting list for tables and the next time those collectors turn up there will be a plethora of new dealers to meet and new medals to buy. Sadly too many collectors go to a show once, decide there weren’t enough medals on offer for them and then never go back—and still more won’t go to a venue again because they went five years ago and were disappointed—no matter that in those intervening five years everything may have changed!

We are, in the big scheme of things, a very small hobby and if we are honest we all need each other to ensure that the hobby survives. Yes, the internet is great and yes, you could collect just from your armchair using your tablet computer, never meeting another collector, never seeing medals outside your theme, never learning anything new—but how very dull! Far better, surely, to get out there and experience medals, and the joy of meeting other collectors, by going to a fair—or even your local society/club—actually immersing yourself in the medal world proper? So I exhort you, make it your new year’s medal resolution to get out to at least one show this year and, if you can, go the next time too and keep going. Most fairs cost very little to get in to (some are even free) so all you’re giving up is some time and when you’re surrounded by medals that’s actually time well spent. So please, don’t be one of those people who say they’ll go to a fair if it were busier/had more dealers in attendance—rather try to be one of those people who makes it busier. Trust me, the dealers will soon follow.

There are shows up and down the country most weekends from London to Yorkshire, from Bristol to Bromley, some dedicated just to medals others are militaria shows with a fine selection of medals on offer and don’t forget many of the coin shows will have medals featured too. I can guarantee that, at least one of them you will find something to suit your theme and your budget. Take a look at page 52 for diary details of the nearest ones to you—and we’ll see you there. In the coming months we will be at Stratford upon Avon, Birmingham, Bristol, Aldershot, Dublin, London, York and all points in between.

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In This Issue

SPOTLIGHT16
The Purple Heart
America’s oldest miltary decoration examined
RESEARCHER’S NOTEBOOK21
Whose medal?
A clasp too far for one man
BACKGROUND25
The Steady 12th
Gallantry with the Suffolk Regiment in World War I
CASEBOOK28
18 Years in the Far East
Researching a survivor of the Burma campaign of WWII
IN FOCUS31
Battleships at war: Part IV
More commerce raiders of WWII
BADGES35
The Gordon Highlanders—Part 2
Insignia of the famous regiment
MEDAL OF THE MONTH40
Sir Sam Browne’s VC
A Mutiny treasure from the NAM
TALKING MINIATURES42
Kenyan confusion
An early Mau Mau mix-up

Regulars

The Editorial Page5
News and Views6
Market Scene11
From the Archives39
Bookshelf44
Mailbox45
Medal Tracker46
Dealers’ Lists48
Semi Display Advertising49
Classified Advertising50
Diary Dates52
Subscription form54