Record Fighter Ace
Volume 50, Number 9, October 2012
Dallas Delights This year’s Orders and Medals Society of America (OMSA) annual Convention was held in the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dallas Fort Worth Airport over the weekend of August 16–19. Dallas in August isn’t necessarily somewhere where you want to be and being at an airport hotel meant that sightseeing would be limited and thus it was with some trepidation that the MEDAL NEWS team (Phil anyway!) headed west again this year. True, the hotel wasn’t in the best of locations and any trip either downtown (a trip to Dealy Plaza and the famous book depository was a must) or to a decent restaurant meant a taxi ride, but it wasn’t a great hardship and as a hotel the Hyatt couldn’t be faulted. OMSA Convention has been held in some ropey venues in the past (anyone remember Fort Mitchell? Or the Mark Adams Hotel in Philadelphia?), often alongside other conventions that didn’t exactly gel (paint-ballers were present one year, and family reunions are almost obligatory). However, there were no such complaints with this year’s choice and it served you well if all you wanted to do was fly in, visit Convention and fly out—which many did. The British contingent don’t do that of course, we tend to want to explore a bit, after all we have travelled a long way and generally want to see more than the inside of a hotel. And so it was this year, but that wasn’t to say the Convention itself was forgotten—far from it. There was much on offer in Dallas for those prepared to look for it, with a particular focus on Russian and other Eastern European delights. Oliver Pepys and Mark Quayle of Spink led the search for the more exotic items, keeping abreast of what was in the room as it often changed from day to day, and they were keen to handle what they could. John Millensted of Bonhams was also eager to look around and was particularly taken by a group of four at $6,200, although on closer inspection it turned out to be two pairs which shouldn’t necessarily have been put together and wouldn’t have been to everyone’s taste, but which somehow worked, enough for the combination to be widely admired by others to whom he pointed it out. Richard Black of the London Medal Company took his entire staff with him to America this year and one of them, Roan Hackney, was very keen on a pair that everyone at first believed to be Eastern European but which, in fact, turned out to be American. He kept going back to them to time after time, despite everything else on offer around the room, and whilst I’m not certain he actually purchased them in the end, despite his insistence that come the Saturday he certainly would, he nevertheless seemed to enjoy contemplating the prospect. As ever the “natives” were friendly and many a long hour was spent catching up with old friends and making new ones. Arrangements were made to visit the US again and promises to come over to the UK abounded. I do believe Jon Peters of the London Medal Company, for example, has arranged for an exchange student, keen on floristry and eager to learn more about differences between Americans and the British, to come and stay with him for a while, which was a nice touch. Sadly, of course, many of our old friends just don’t come to OMSA any more. Many of those we met in 1998, when we first visited OMSA Convention, are no longer with us and others are just unable to travel the long distances necessary to make every Convention—which, unlike the UK equivalent is held in a different US city every year—and numbers have dwindled. The internet doesn’t help, as people can now sit at home and buy medals without ever needing to leave the comfort of their armchairs. But to do that misses the whole point of an event like the OMSA Convention. These conventions aren’t just about buying medals, they are about meeting fellow collectors, swapping stories, catching up with old friends and meeting new people who will stay friends for life. Yes, you can do that to a certain extent on the internet, but trust me it isn’t the same. The experience we got at OMSA this year can be found on-line but it wouldn’t have been nearly so rewarding, or indeed so much fun. Yes, it is true that the trip to Dallas hadn’t been particularly looked forward to: the heat didn’t appeal (although that wasn’t a problem in the end, the huge thunderstorm on the Wednesday ensuring the air cleared) and the hotel wasn’t in the right place for “seeing the sights”, but none of that eventually mattered. Ultimately it was a good, very enjoyable, show and those who made the effort to attend were glad they did and our thanks must go out to the organisers, in particular John Allgood and Nathan Weiss. So I urge anyone in the US or Canada, or indeed in the UK, who isn’t a member of OMSA and hasn’t been to a Convention, to think about registering and think about going along one year. The 2013 Convention is due to be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which might not be everyone’s ideal destination; but in 2014 it is being held in California, south of LA, and that is definitely an interesting prospect! Whether you visit next year, the year after or the year after that (Atlanta) I can say without fear of contradiction that you’ll remember it fondly. For those Brits attending this year, Dallas will be firmly lodged in their memories for many years to come. Details of OMSA, the Conventions and how to join can be found on page 48.
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