Medal News

Volume 47, Number 2, February 2009

Once a die hard

Volume 47, Number 2, February 2009

Rule Britannia! SOME months ago we featured a small piece on the Britannia Medal Fair—mentioning that after more than two decades of organising the show Fred Walland and Jeannie Robinson had decided to bow out. The news wasn’t entirely unexpected but it was greeted with much sadness by all within our hobby, dealers and collectors alike, especially as this left the capital (indeed the whole country) with no specialist medal fair bar the OMRS Convention bourse. At the last show, in November, you couldn’t escape the feeling that an era was ending and the consensus of opinion was that the loss of the fair was a loss to the hobby. We thought so too and so, after much to-ing and fro-ing with the Victory Services Club (where the event is held), we at MEDAL NEWS are proud to be able to say that as of March 2009 we will be the organisers of the Britannia Medal Fair! Our first show will be held on Sunday, March 29, with the second one coming on November 22—we’re only looking to do two a year. There are already dozens of medal and militaria fairs up and down the country, not to mention coin fairs that also feature medals (and that we have to attend with our COIN NEWS hat on) and we don’t want to clash with any of those if we can avoid it. We plan to keep things at Britannia more or less the same as when Jeannie and Fred ran it—it will still be at the same venue (just by Marble Arch, central London), there will still be the bar, still be the chicken curry, still be the friendly, welcoming atmosphere that made it so popular, but in addition we hope to bring our own brand of sparkle to the show. Needless to say we’ll feature it heavily in MEDAL NEWS along with advertising elsewhere, entry to the fair will be completely FREE to all MEDAL NEWS subscribers via a ticket inside the magazine (so look out next month for that!) along with a prize draw that everyone who comes along will be eligible for. In addition everyone coming in will get a “money off” voucher to spend at our stand and we may even be able to persuade some of the dealers to run promotions too (we haven’t actually asked them yet, but who knows . . . !). So far the response to us taking over the show has been unanimously positive with all of the regular dealers very keen to carry on “stalling out”—those who have confirmed so far include Fred Walland, Steve Sewell, Malcolm Gordon, DNW and Chelsea Military Antiques to name just a few. A full list will appear in next month’s magazine. We’re under no illusions of course—we can’t just trade on the goodwill that Fred and Jeannie built up over the years and in the current “economic climate” (which isn’t as bad as the media makes out, not by a long shot, but it isn’t all rosy in the garden either), we realise that taking on new projects like this might seem like a risk, but we don’t see it like that. It’s true that fairs have changed in recent years—the advent of the internet means you can collect without ever leaving your front room—but doing that and nothing more means you really are missing out on so much. There’s no real substitute for meeting fellow collectors, chatting to them over a coffee (or a curry!), no real substitute for looking at medals first hand, for handling them, weighing them up, studying them and actually feeling you’re part of something and not simply connected to it via your computer. There are no guarantees of course. It might not work, it might take a few shows to get the momentum going again—but no matter, our view is a long term one. We want to be part of the great hobby for many years to come and, in order to ensure we are, we have to support the hobby in any and every way possible. We aren’t planning on becoming organisers of huge events like “Who do you think you are? Live” (which we’ll attend once again on February 27–March 1 at Olympia), but we do believe the hobby in London, indeed the UK, will benefit from the Britannia show continuing, so we’re going to do our absolute utmost to see that it does. So come along on March 29, come and say hello, bring a friend, arrange to meet some fellow collectors, come and meet some dealers, have a look at their stock—or just come along and say hello to us—who knows, you may get a taste for it. We believe in the show, we really think it can work—we hope you do too. See you there!

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