Onwards and Upwards
Volume 42, Number 8, September 2004
As I write this, at the tail end of a miserable August, we have just put the Medal Yearbook 2005 “to bed” ready for its launch at the OMRS Annual convention on Saturday September 18, this will be our 11th Yearbook and our 16th convention since MEDAL NEWS went out on it’s own as a separate publication. Inevitably at this time of year, as the new season starts and we once again put the finishing touches on yet another Yearbook I find myself reflecting on past years and this year, perhaps more than ever I realise just how much our hobby has changed, and continues to do so. The biggest, most obvious change since we started the Medal Yearbooks has to be in the prices of the medals themselves. We all know that values have increased dramatically over recent years but when you look at such values as £4-6 (1996) £7-10 (1998) £10-15 (2000) £15-20 (2002) and £20-45 (2004) – this for the 1914-15 Star - and £350-450 (1996) £450-550 (1998) £550-650 (2000) £800-1000 (2002) and £1200-1500 (2004) –these being prices for the ever popular Waterloo medal it makes you realise just what a dramatic price increase there really has been – the 2005 Yearbook will, of course, reflect a further increase in many medal values, in some cases quite startlingly so. We all know about the upward trend of prices, it is the standard talking point at most Medal fairs nowadays, and it is all too easy to let that dominate our view of the hobby and detract from the other dramatic changes that have been happening over the years. Since MEDAL NEWS became a magazine in its own right our hobby has increased in popularity more than we could ever have dared hope. March 1989 saw the Subscription only magazine selling just over 1,000 copies, today we have over 3,000 subscribers and sell a further 2,000+ magazines through newsagents and medal dealers. In 1995 the 1996 Medal Yearbook sold nearly 2,000 copies, in 1996 2,000 copies of the ’97 yearbook had sold by November and a further 1,500 were printed, they’d all gone by June of the following year. The 2004 yearbook has just sold out – all 6,000 softback copies and 500 hardbacks (the latter had all sold within one month of publication) and orders for the 2005 edition are flooding in. There is no doubt at all that despite the rising prices our hobby is on the up. One of the principal reasons for this growth has to be the Internet – a huge boost to our hobby with such wonderful resources as the London Gazette, the National Archives, the 1901 census and countless other research papers and documents now all available on-line. The addition of such material to the World Wide Web has meant that the interest in research, rather than simply the collecting of the medals themselves has intensified greatly; always part of a far larger hobby than ours the “Family History” buffs are now able, at a glance, to see what medals their ancestors were awarded and when, sparking a natural desire to find those medals and maybe the medals of his friends and comrades, the men he fought with. Suddenly all those with an interest in Great Granddad’s endeavours can have something tangible to remember him by – the increase in interest in Medal Tracker and medaltracker.com from the Family history market bears testament to that. The internet has also made the buying of medals much easier, with Dealers lists on-line and the on-line auction houses all very easy to use. Yes the prices of medals have gone up, and yes the negative side of that is what people seem to focus on these days – but we must not lose sight of the fact that in the 15 years since Medal News came into its own and in the years we’ve been publishing our Medal Yearbooks this hobby has grown immeasurably and the vast amount of changes that growth has brought about really are for the good
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