From the Editor's desk

September 1998, Volume 36 No. 8
AS a collector reading auction catalogues and dealers' sales lists, I find a word that continually occurs to describe particular medals or groups is: "important". This word tends to be used for medals or groups which have been awarded to people who have held positions of responsibility, or who are themselves famous, which is not the same as saying that the medal or group of medals is important in itself. I believe that the word "important" should be used to describe the medals, not the recipient: if a group, or a single medal, is nuInislnatically unique, or very rare, it merits being described as "important" to the medal- collecting community. Obviously, all named medals are unique to the original recipient, but there is a difference between this and the rarity or scarceness of the award of a particular medal, or the combination of a number of medals and clasps. "Important", as a word to describe items for sale, could certainly do with a rest.
Another aspect of auction and sales catalogues that can be extremely upsetting to potential clients (I.e. collectors) is the accuracy of the data recorded there. I have noticed some deterioration in the proof-reading of catalogues recently, and I confess to finding it annoying. I know (from bitter experience when I started to edit the OMRS Journal four years ago) that getting the proof-reading right matters deeply to readers. There are, though, categories of inaccuracy. A simple reversion, such as "teh" for "the", is irritating, but not significant. One recent auction catalogue, however, contained several mistakes that should have been spotted. For example, one lot was headed: "Three to . . . sth Dragoon Guards", but the medals were apparently named to the sth Lancers. Another lot was described as: "Pair to . . . Yorkshire and Lancashire Regilnent". I think that members of the old 65th/84th Foot would be surprised that their designation York and Lancaster had been substituted by the respective counties of these cities.

At the risk of being hoist by my own petard (I take full responsibility for similar errors in MEDAL NEWS), my point is that, if collectors can see obvious mistakes like this, how can they rely on the accuracy of anything else in the catalogue, e.g. naming details, which can be crucial in giving collectors important information about the "correctness" of a medal? Can all those who produce catalogues or sales lists please ensure that data is correct in these vital areas? Distance buying (as was pointed out on this page last month) is enough of a lottery already.

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In This Issue

BACKGROUND13
The Allied Victory Medal by Brigadier Stuart Ryder
A revealing memo
INSIGHT16
Retreat from Kabul by John Sly
Examining the evidence siege
SPOTLIGHT20
'Terribly earnest work' by Ian Knight
The siege and relief of Eshowe, 1879
FACT FILE24
An onerous task by Colin Message
NGS rolls reviewed
COLLECTOR'S PAGE26
From wood to wingsby Glynn Nation
This month's winning contribution
BADGES27
The Yeomanry Regiments: VIII by Philip Haythornthwaite
RESEARCH FILE29
Medal rolls of the Indian Mutiny by Tim Ash

Regulars

NEWS & VIEWS5
MARKET SCENE9
THE EDITORS PAGE30
ON PARADE! - READERS' QUERIES30
READERS' LETTERS31
BOOK REVIEW32
MEDAL TRACKER33
DEALERS' LISTS34
WHAT'S ON35
CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING36