By Royal Appointment
Volume 57, Number 8, September 2019
OMSA and the numbers game I MUST CONFESS, I was wrong. Last month I said that I could probably list all the attendees at the forthcoming OMSA Convention were I to put my mind to it. Having just finished at the event I can confirm that whilst many of those in attendance were familiar faces and would have been on my list (you know who you are—it was, once again, a real pleasure to see you all), there were new faces around the room too. We had all expected new faces on the Saturday (the day the general public are allowed in) and indeed had a fairly decent crowd turn up (it’s not like an English shows, there’s never a huge rush), but what I hadn’t expected was the number of new Convention attendees on the other days, in other words people who had preregistered and turned up for more than just one day, some coming for the very first time, and at least two of those because of this editorial from last month—so thank you for that. There were also new “dealers” there, most notably the German auction house Kunker with Michael Autengruber and Inja MacClure attending their very first OMSA! It wasn’t a desperately busy Convention, no point in pretending it was, but it was certainly a good one. It was well organised, the venue was excellent and the location, in a green and lush suburb of Houston, was beautiful— only the weather preventing us all from enjoying it more (it was 34ºC/93ºF and very humid, not ideal for exploring I assure you). The seminars were excellent, the social side was as enjoyable as ever (more so actually—the days of the OMSA delegates “closing the bar” had returned), the Thursday drinks party and auction (sponsored by Kunker) was well attended as was the Saturday banquet where delegates got to enjoy a good meal, good wine (sponsored by DNW) and listen to David Erskine-Hill give very good after dinner speech on his role as curator of the Ashcroft Collection and what the collection itself now comprised. There was the annual prize giving for meritorious and distinguished service as well as for the exhibits and the announcement of the new Dick Flory Medal honouring the best British exhibit at the show (see “News and Views” on page 6). It was, on the whole, a success. It just wasn’t the same as it used to be. Why? Simply because there were fewer people there to enjoy it all. There was less than half the number registered for this Houston event than when the Convention was last held at the Woodlands venue in 2007; many old friends from back then are no longer with us, still more were either too ill or too infirm to attend and, sadly, the numbers coming in to OMSA just aren’t making up the shortfall. And that is the problem. When OMSA was last in Houston there were twice the number of people in the society as there are today and we worked it out that pro rata as many people are coming to Convention as they always have—there was always an attendance of between 10 and 15 per cent of members at the August event and that remains the same today—it’s just that it is now 10–15 per cent of a much smaller number. So my “Comment” this month is a plea to all of our readers across the pond, as well as those over here who have an interest in US and world orders, decorations and medals (OMSA caters for a broader audience than the OMRS which focuses mainly on British and Empire/Commonwealth awards), please join the society, or at least check out their website (www.omsa.org). There’s a wealth of information available through them, they’re a friendly bunch and the membership is well worth it I assure you. And for those of you who are already OMSA members don’t think you can escape so easily: my plea to you is to encourage as many fellow collectors in your city or county to join up as you can, and if you don’t know any fellow collectors in your city or county then I task you with going even further—how about trying to find some, and maybe starting up your own little local medal club? The local branches of the OMRS in the UK and abroad have been a great success and a boost to the larger society, so how about setting up a local OMSA branch—the society doesn’t actually have local branches at the moment but I’m pretty sure if you asked them for their support to set one up they wouldn’t turn you away. I’ll stop there, aware I’m verging on another rant and I promised last month I wouldn’t do that for another year —seems I was wrong about that too!
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