Medal News

Volume 54, Number 7, August 2016

Island Crisis

Volume 54, Number 7, August 2016

I’m done! So what’s next…? JUST about everybody reading this Editorial will, by the very fact they buy this magazine, be a collector. Yes, one or two of you are researchers pure and simple, still others may be museum curators and the like, but most of you are collectors and thus, by definition, like to buy or acquire new things to add to your collection. That is what collecting is, that is what makes it fun—the acquisition of new items. Few, if any, of us even if we had the money, would want to go out and buy a complete set of anything ready made up—we like the “thrill of the chase”, the buzz of buying, the joy of seeing something new come up at auction or on a list. The searching for items that we don’t already possess is what keeps us going. I don’t know anyone who just acquires whatever he can afford with no rhyme nor reason; yes, there are some who buy “interesting things” with no direct theme as such, but most of us have strict collecting parameters, we will collect by name, battle, regiment, unit, etc., and take great joy in finding something that we don’t already have in our collections. Those parameters fall into two types: the more or less infinite, i.e. those who will collect absolutely anything to “their” regiment or those who collect to men from their home town or who bear their surname, and the finite. In the former camp you know that no matter how hard you try you’ll never acquire every medal that’s out there and so know that your hobby will carry on with you into your dotage. With the latter camp however, there is more rigidity, a specific goal, a goal that one day will be reached. I know readers who are trying to acquire every 1914 trio to those regiments so entitled, the 1914–15 trios to those entitled to that Star and pairs to all those who didn’t qualify for either. I know there are those trying to collect examples of every QSA clasp, others who are trying to get a medal awarded to sailors or marines on every ship present at Jutland, those who seek an AGS 1879 to every Colonial Unit in the Zulu wars and so on. These are all excellent themes and collectors who follow them have the advantage over those who are simply “regimental” collectors in that they do have periods of time when they are unable to add to their collections, making the next purchase all the more sweet. There is, however, one distinct drawback to this type of collecting, we all know that there must one day come a point where the collector has gone as far as he can go with it and that no matter how hard he tries, no matter how deep his pockets, he simply cannot add to this collection (and of course there are those of us without deep pockets who find we cannot go any further because we can’t, or just don’t want to, spend that kind of money on medals—we’d rather eat and pay our mortgage . . . !). What then is a collector to do in such circumstances? What does he do when he finally acquires that Defence of Mafeking clasp, that trio to King Edward’s Horse or whatever it takes to reach the fabled “end”? What does he do when he realises he has every possible medal in his theme that he can realistically afford? Does he give up collecting completely? Does he switch themes? If he does the latter then to what? And what does he do with his existing collection? Sell it off? Keep it (after all it was his “first love”). It is a conundrum to be sure. I’m afraid I don’t have the answer to it myself, indeed I am stuck in something of a similar dilemma having realistically gone as far as I can go without spending an absolute fortune on getting the truly elusive items. Having spoken to a number of collectors I realise I am not alone and that many of you out there are wondering about the very same thing—you’ve been collecting for a few years now and realise you’re “almost there”, so what comes next? I also know that many of you have been in this situation in the past and have had to face the choices I’ve just laid out—if you have, and have any advice for those of us experiencing it now, we would be delighted to hear from you. What did you do when you realised all you were missing from your theme was a Victoria Cross and you just kept getting pipped at auction? What did you do when you stood back and proudly viewed your complete collection of TFWMs only to realise that you still wanted to collect “something” but realised there was no point in duplicating what you already had? I assume by the fact you’re reading this that you didn’t stop collecting, so did you switch themes? If you did then how did you choose what to collect next after having spent so long on your first theme? Was it a drastic switch or somehow related? What did you do with your first collection? Do you still have it? Did you sell it? All of these questions are very real problems for a lot of collectors out there so you really would be helping—at the very least you’ll be helping me with my personal conundrum, so I look forward to hearing from you!

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