Medal News

Volume 55, Number 2, February 2017

Malta Police

Volume 55, Number 2, February 2017

The personal touch IT IS with sadness that we hear of the passing of Phil Burman (see “News and Views”, page 6) one of the “Old Guard” of the medal hobby—a familiar face to those of us who have attended medal shows in the past few decades and a true gentleman in the best possible sense of the word. Phil would have seen a great number of changes in his years as a dealer, not least the advent of the internet; the new technology was something he embraced fully with his own dedicated website but never at the expense of the personal touch. Although the inevitability of aging slowed Phil down a little, and in recent years he simply couldn’t get to as many medal fairs as he used to, he always made an effort to attend at least the two Britannias and the OMRS Convention every year and I remember him telling me how important he felt it was to engage directly with his customers and how much he enjoyed it. He never shied away from new technology (even if he wasn’t directly responsible for its implementation in his business himself) but he never saw it as a complete alternative to dealing with his customers direct. He knew how important it was to “get out there” and keep his profile high amongst collectors and in the hobby at large and he viewed the internet as complementary to rather than in conflict with that aim. It is because of this attitude that he was a real person, someone we knew and respected, someone we saw at shows, chatted with and who felt was our friend—and it is why he will be missed by many of us. I do hope that he, and the others of the “Old Guard” aren’t the only ones who will be missed in the future, it worries me sometimes that as medal shops go, as fairs become fewer and more and more business moves on-line that we (indeed every hobby) is in danger of becoming impersonal, faceless and soon, when somebody “well known” in the hobby finally fades away, they won’t be that missed or mourned simply because they weren’t actually that well known at all, at least not by anything other than a funny user name or by their website address, as all their collecting/dealing and other interaction was done from behind a PC or tablet and never in person. I don’t want to be maudlin for the first “Comment” of 2017 but I do want to try, once again, to encourage all of you out there to look beyond your computer screens and look at the hobby at large—Mark Carter is just about to take over London’s only medal fair, Britannia, so why not go along and visit? Or if you don’t want to head into the West End then go to the Bromley Fair on February 26 (you could do both of course!). If you can’t make it to London at all then get to Stratford in March or Aldershot in April. Not in the Midlands or the South? No problem! What about Andrew Jukes’ Outwood (Wakefield) show on the first Sunday of every month or the one at Bowburn on March 26? And don’t just restrict yourself to fairs—there are some wonderful medal shops out there still too—the Medal Centre in Hexham, DCM Medals in Shrewsbury, The London Medal Company in, er, London and a host of others. Maybe auctions are your thing, that’s great too but why not go along in person one of these days? Why not actually handle the lot you intend to bid on rather than just rely on a photograph? And then there are medal clubs and societies—don’t rely just on chat rooms to talk medals, go along to a meeting, go and hear some speakers talk to likeminded collectors in person! Now I’m not, for one second, suggesting you shy away from on-line activities altogether (at least medal related ones!), far from it—I myself go on the medal forums, buy from on-line auctions, regularly check medal dealers’ websites etc., my hobby has been greatly enhanced by the internet but I am determined not to make it all about the computer—I know I’ve said this before, and I know I’ll say it again but I love this hobby, I really do, and for me it isn’t just about the acquisition of medals and the research that follows, it’s about the people, the fellow collectors, the friends I’ve made over the years—people I will miss greatly when they are gone. We always say we medal collectors differ from our numismatist counterparts in that we don’t just collect bits of metal but people and their stories—we would do well to remember that there are also people and stories all around us in the hobby today, let’s not lose sight of that, or them, just because it’s easier to stay at home and stare at a screen.

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