Medal News

Volume 53, Number 2, February 2015

Dambuster at auction

Volume 53, Number 2, February 2015

For posterity With the death of John Tamplin (see News and Views) another of the “Old Guard” has left us and with his passing one of the most knowledgeable minds in medals is lost to our hobby. Fortunately for us collectors much of John’s knowledge was shared with the wider community in the form of the books that he authored, not least the indispensable 'British Gallantry Medals', his works on the Royal Victorian Order and his smaller “booklets” on medals such as that on the Special Reserve LS&GC. Books like these have become staples of any collector’s shelves and in them John’s memory will live on. John, and others like him, have advanced our hobby in incalculable ways, by researching and then publishing their findings to help others further their own understanding. The names of others who have done similar come to mind; some are no longer with us—Major Gordon of 'British Battles and Medals' fame, Captain Douglas-Morris, the acclaimed Naval collector, Lt-Col Ashley Tinson, author of 'Medals will be Worn', but others are very much still researching—David Biggins author of the continuing series on Boer war battles and medals and Michael Maton author of the acclaimed “honour” series to name but two. Of course, in this day and age writing books is considered by some to be “old hat”, with blogs and websites taking the place of the printed word and there are many who ask us why we don’t publish books such as the huge “honour” tomes on CD, as downloads or just on a website. Indeed the next project of Michael’s, the three volume work on World War I Mentions in Despatches (yes all of them—due out later this year) would seem to cry out for a digital format. We don’t disagree and already a large number of our books are available from our website as downloads, with plans for more in the future. however, would we ever want to see great works of research solely made available in such a format? Absolutely not. The great thing about the books John Tamplin and the others have left behind is that they are still “there”, still available in physical form, and even those “out of print” can still be picked up at the excellent second hand stalls that can be found at most medal fairs. Now, of course, websites can be bookmarked and cached, copies can be made of rolls and downloaded books can be kept on devices; but take the scenario where one collector publishes on-line everything he knows about the Territorial Force War Medal. His website is an excellent resource and it is the talk of the World War I medal collecting community, it becomes a go-to point of reference. Sadly that collector passes away and the executors of his estate don’t know anything about his work or his website, in time the domain name comes up for renewal, or perhaps his hosting company goes bust, what then happens to that research? What happens to all that work he has put in? When the bookmark you have on your computer points to a site that no longer exists what do you do? It’s the same with ebooks—we have them on our tablets, on our phones and laptops, and if something happens to the hardware we can download them again—but not if the company providing them originally is no longer around! As for CDs well who knows what hardware will be around in ten years’ time to play them—take the example of VHS—you try finding a video recorder in this day and age…! had that research been published in hardcopy form, had there been a couple of hundred copies of a book floating around then it would be there forever and generations of collectors to come will be able to enjoy it. It’s the same with auction catalogues—the news this month that DNW are going to concentrate more on their on-line activities comes as no surprise but we were so pleased to learn that they will still be producing hardcopy catalogues for those who want them. Catalogues of the big collections (Douglas-Morris, Tim Ash, et al) have become research tools in their own right and are eagerly sought after by collectors today and whilst the information is on-line (DNW and many of the other auction houses are to be commended that their on-line write ups are as comprehensive as their catalogue ones) will it stay there forever? The internet is an amazing tool and I am immensely grateful to all those who have published their research on-line for the benefit of others. However, may I urge each and every one of you who have spent hours uploading information to your site or blog to consider either putting it into hardcopy form for publication or ensure there is provision for your website to be hosted and kept live long after you have gone. John Tamplin’s memory will live on through his selfless work—will yours?

Order Back Issue

You can order this item as a back issue, simply click the button below to add it to your shopping basket.