Medal News

Volume 42, Number 5, May 2004

A word of caution

Volume 42, Number 5, May 2004

In this month’s Letters to the Editor we publish a letter from Maurice Williams of Shropshire regarding the increase in prices that this hobby has experienced recently. Mr Williams will be pleased to see his letter in print I’m sure, as he hadn’t expected us to publish it – however after careful consideration we decided to air his views simply because the comments he makes are being made by many collectors and dealers and we cannot simply ignore them for fear of upsetting a few people. We didn’t publish his letter because we necessarily agree with it, and we know it will cause controversy, we published it because the single comment on everyone’s lips these days is about the price of the medals. There can be no doubt that the price of medals of all types has soared recently – gone are the days when only the “interesting” medals fetched a premium, as Mr Williams points out “standard” medals to “standard” line regiments (if there can be such a thing) are rapidly increasing in value (or at least price) – the question is why? Is it simply a case of some dealers pushing the limits in the hope that someone somewhere will buy? Or is the increase a genuine one, with the dealers simply reflecting the market rather than leading it? Perhaps a combination of both? It’s true that certain medals are becoming scarcer and this will inevitably be reflected in the price but others seem to be increasing hand over fist regardless of numbers awarded or apparent market availability. Is this because everyone is trying to cash in on the boom? Buying now in the hope that prices will increase even more so that they can sell later? Or is it because the medal hobby is enjoying such a renaissance that collectors are coming in in droves and hoovering up everything they can as quickly as they can before prices rise too much – this in itself leading to the increase we are seeing? For what its worth our opinion is that there is no single factor leading to the current level of prices – yes we are sure that some dealers are higher than others but the market place always has a way of finding its level and if a dealer has a high priced group long enough and wants to sell it he’ll bring the price down in line with his contemporaries given time, we are also sure that there is an element of investment purchasing going on, people happily buying at the current level as they know they’ll make a “few bob” down the line. We are also absolutely convinced that medal collecting is enjoying a renaissance – five years ago the hobby looked as if was dying, something, whether the internet, the release of more records, the increase in family history interest or something else, ahs breathed new life into medal collecting - as the increased sales of this magazine prove. Our only hope is that these factors do not conspire against us and that our hobby doesn’t suffer as others have in the past with a crash that will do none of us any good. We are still very optimistic about the future of this hobby, still believe it will bring a lot of enjoyment to a lot of people for a lot of years to come. We are always careful, however, to inject a little realism into that optimism, a little caution too – it can’t do any harm can it?

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