Albert Medals of Malta
Volume 47, Number 5, May 2009
You are not alone... FIRST things first — a big thank you to all dealers and collectors who made it to a very successful inaugural MEDAL NEWS Britannia show on March 29. We had over 300 people there throughout the day and I think everyone who attended were pleased with the result. We’ve already had a raft of bookings for the next fair (November 22) both from dealers who came along this time and others who hadn’t stalled out but were keen to “get in on the action” next time around. Comments from attendees such as “just like the good old days” and “I haven’t been elbowed like that since the 80s” show that the collectors were impressed too! That all said the point of this Comment isn’t just one of self-praise — yes, the fair was a great success, yes, we’ll be doing it again and yes, we are very glad that we have been instrumental in keeping a medal fair in the Capital — especially now the OMRS Convention has taken a different route and the “public” per se won’t be able to attend (see MEDAL NEWS, April 2009 for more details of that). However, there was more to Britannia than simply a very good medal fair — indeed a number of the most positive comments have come not from dealers or successful buyers (although both groups also declared themselves well satisfied) but rather from collectors who actually didn’t buy very much at all — if anything. It seemed that those who came to look, to chat to fellow collectors to be “part of something” enjoyed the day just as much as those who walked away with a treasured addition to their collection and the acquisition of yet another group was not the sole motivation behind attending. One thing those of us who attend the fairs regularly tend to forget is that for many this hobby is a solitary one, we aren’t part of a team, we don’t attend huge “swap meets”, don’t share our passion with our mates down the pub and don’t tend to share our interests that much with our families. The reasons for all this are obvious — there simply aren’t that many collectors around for huge meetings to ever happen, we don’t want to start talking about our expensive collections to all and sundry (who knows who may be listening) and let’s be honest we’d be horrified if our better halves did take too much of an interest — they’d know how much we were spending then! But just because our hobby is quite insular doesn’t mean we necessarily want to be, and whilst the various internet chat rooms and forums are fantastic (particularly at shrinking the hobby globally) they don’t necessarily have that human touch and often their true worth is by introducing people virtually who are then eager to meet in real life. Therefore I suggest that the success of Britannia, and the continued success of the other shows “on the circuit” isn’t necessarily about wanting to acquire new medals (although let’s be honest that’s a pretty powerful lure) but has just as much to do with feeling that we are part of something, feeling we’re not alone. We like the feeling that we’re around like-minded souls, like knowing that we can talk about “clasps”, “IGSs”, “suspensions”, “MIDs” et al without feeling (too) anorak-ish or being met with blank stares. We like the feeling of pride when we show off that group we’ve been eyeing up for ages and the feeling of approval from our peers when we manage to snap up a bargain that, quite frankly, would leave any “normal” person scratching their head and wondering what all the fuss was about. All this can be done at a distance of course and indeed there was a time when it was mooted that the medal fair would be a thing of the past — but I put it to you that not so long ago medal clubs and societies were also considered a dying breed but now they’re thriving with new branches of the OMRS and independent clubs springing up all the time. Whether medal club or medal fair, it’s all part of the same thing—our need to be part of something, our need to belong and that’s no bad thing. So might I suggest if you aren’t a member of a medal club or society or don’t attend at least a few fairs a year then you really should; sitting at home doing research and buying your medals purely by mail order or from eBay is all very well but, if that is all you do, if your only contact with fellow collectors is by email or similar, then you may well be missing out. Many of our readers, particularly those in the US, Canada and Australia simply won’t ever be able to attend a club or even a fair, distance prohibits it but for those of us less geographically challenged I really do feel you owe it to yourself to get out there a bit more. Who knows you may even have some fun. The next Britannia show is on November 22, 2009 once again at the Carisbrooke Hall, Victory Services Club, London, for other fairs before that — and there are lots of them — see our What’s On Section on page 53. For some pictures from the last Britannia see page 9.
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