Volume 51, Number 3, March 2013
Getting stuck in THIS month’s comment is, I am afraid, a shameless plug for Britannia—the UK’s only purist medal fair held twice a year at the Victory Services Club, Seymour Street, London, and with the next one coming up on Sunday, March 17, what better time to plug it than the March issue? Now, many of you will know about the fair, many of you will have been attending for years and still more of you will have come along to your first one in more recent times since we took it over and really started pushing it. Those of you who have been attending for years will remember what it was like “back in the day”, and you will also remember what it was like not so long ago when the internet and on-line auction sites made everybody a “dealer” and attendance at fairs started to dwindle. It is no exaggeration when I say that at a typical Britannia fair less than a decade ago there were times when there were more dealers than there were customers. Thankfully those days are gone, and not just because we came along and took over the show but rather because there has been something of a change in attitude recently. We only took over the show because the previous organisers decided it was time to call it a day and we realised that with Britannia’s demise there would be no purist medal show, open to all, anywhere in the country (there are some wonderful fairs, held across the UK on just about every weekend but none are pure medals and of course the OMRS Convention is not a medal fair in the strictest sense and is really for OMRS members only not the general public) and so it was the logical thing for MEDAL NEWS to come to the rescue. We didn’t do it as a money-making venture and we didn’t do it to try to expand our business empire. We took it over purely because we realised something very important—that the medal collecting community is exactly that, a proper community of like-minded people, and those people needed somewhere to get together. The rise of on-line trading, whether through dealers’ websites or auctions, as well as the internet forums has meant that medal collecting has reached a wider audience, and that is excellent news. But as I have said many times before, the internet is a poor substitute for real human interaction. Certainly those who live in the far flung corners of the globe and who simply have no one around them who has a similar interest find on-line chat invaluable—and so it is, bringing together people from all walks of life who can share their passion and allowing them to share their knowledge with each other in a way simply not possible just a few years ago. But such on-line chat cannot, and really should not, take the place of proper one-to-one communication, and certainly on-line trading can never be a proper substitute for actually handling medals, feeling the weight of them, studying the naming and getting a “feel” for what is right and what is not. Now I am in no way trying to play down the importance of the internet in this day and age, many of us have come to this hobby purely because of the research potential the internet provides, and I really do feel it adds a tremendous amount to our hobby, but rather I am trying to encourage those of you who collect purely “from a distance” to become a little more hands on. Come to Britannia on Sunday, March 17 (or Stratford or Camden the week before), join your local OMRS Branch or medal club (all details of Societies and fairs can be found every month in the back of MEDAL NEWS—and if there isn’t something local to you why not think about organising one yourself? We’ll promote it . . .) and actually get involved. Talk to people, handle medals (if you start doing it the other way round you’ll be in trouble) and soon you’ll realise that whilst armchair collecting has its merits, it is no substitute for actually getting out there. More and more people are realising this these days. More and more collectors are getting fed up with being isolated behind their computer screens or smartphones and whilst they realise the world will never be like it was before the internet, they no longer want to rely solely on the on-line world for their collecting and are remembering what it was like to actually get out there in the thick of it. And they are remembering it was a lot of fun. So with that in mind I will see you all on the 17th at the Carisbrooke Hall, Victory Service Club, Seymour Street, London from 9.30am to 2.00pm!
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