Volume 60, Number 2, February 2022
New Year, new theme BACK in November, I was alerted to a Special Constabulary Medal on offer at Noble’s auction in Australia. There was nothing unusual about it, it was a standard George V Special Constabulary Medal like any other you’d see at a medal fair or on a dealer’s list, but I bid on it nonetheless, well I sort of had to—it was named to one Arthur G. Mussell! As you might have realised Mussell is not a common name so whenever I see a medal thus named I have to go for it. I have quite a decent collection really, some 25 or so medals: from a Fenian Raid Canada General Service Medal to a Gulf War/Northern Ireland GSM pair and myriad World War I medals in the middle (a large number of them have appeared on the front cover of the MEDAL YEARBOOK over the years), but the scarcity of such naming means that I’ve never considered the “Mussell” collection a “theme” per se. However, as I put my latest acquisition in my medal cabinet (after shipping, exchange rates etc. I paid over the odds, but it was worth it) I decided to take the time to sort out a few of the bits and pieces that were already there. I had a few pairs and singles to Chaplains still—there had been no point in putting them in the original auction where I sold my collection, they would have been lost amongst the choicer items, so I’d held on to them, but there were other medals nestled in there too. There were a few QSAs and KSAs, including a six clasp QSA with a bronze 1902 Coronation Medal to a man who’d served in no fewer than four Colonial regiments and who felt he deserved more clasps than he actually got (his paperwork includes his own handwritten account of which battles he fought in). There were a dozen or so World War I pairs, as many trios, a handful of Memorial Plaques (including one to a Conductor in the East African Transport Corps, another, with scroll, that appears in the MEDAL YEARBOOK purchased when I was collecting Sherwood Foresters’ medals and another, to a lieutenant in the Devons that came with a splendid archive of photographs documenting his time in Egypt and the Middle East). There were a couple of MSMs and assorted “extras” too. It’s not a huge collection, probably half as many again as the “Mussell” medals, but it is a collection nonetheless because all of these medals and plaques have one thing in common—they were all awarded to men, or the next of kin of men, who were born and lived in Exeter, the city that I, and MEDAL NEWS, call home. They aren’t just random medals of Exeter men in my collection though, far from it, every one is from “my side” of the river Exe, every one lived in a road I am familiar with (the Sherwood Forester, Henry Shermer, lived 50 yards from my old house) and I have, over the years, often visited those roads, sat outside the houses where those men lived, and told them across the years that they are not forgotten. As I sorted through those medals I realised something very important, I had been collecting them almost haphazardly over the years, searching online catalogues for “Exeter” and bidding if the medal fitted my criteria, but without the same gusto with which I’d collected medals to Chaplains, thus I’d never really considered the “Exeter” groups as anything more than a diversion. But with 40+ local men represented it isn’t just a diversion at all, it’s a proper collection, and whilst I’ve been bemoaning my lack of a “theme” since selling off the Chaplains, in fact I had one all along! My Exeter collection has been slowly growing over the years without me realising it and now I have decided that it deserves more of my time and effort. So it is that I start 2022 with (at long last) a new theme, that’s really an old theme, a tried and tested one that many collectors share—medals to recipients from my home town (well my adopted home town, but I have been here 25 years so it counts) or at least medals to recipients north of the river in my home town. I’m not going south, it’s scary down there! I’ll still keep up with the “Mussell” medals, of course, but I’m hoping the “Exeter” theme will be more rewarding—I’ll let you know. By the way if anyone knows the whereabouts of the trio and plaque to one Private Alfred Charles Hurved of the Welsh Regiment, killed in action on May 25, 1915, do please drop me a line, that one would be a real coup, he used to live in my previous house!
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