Volume 37, Number 2, February 1999
HAVING attended the very successful annual convention of the Orders and Medals Society of America (OMSA) in Chicago last August, the MEDAL NEWS team were struck by the massive interest in American and other world medals and honours. Being British-based we often forget that there is another world apart from our own campaign and gallantry collections. However, as we toured the bourse one question kept cropping up-just why are these items so popular? With the American medals one can understand their popularity on home territory but even they have one apparent "drawback" when compared with medals found on this side of the Atlantic- the majority, of course, are not named. You only have to visit the PRO or check any dealers'tray with its carefully labelled groups to see that the appeal of the majority of British and Empire medals lies in the fact that most have a specific, researchable, history. Many collectors seek awards to certain regiments, others collect to a particular family name; such things are not possible with unnamed medals. Readers will have taken note of the article in the December/January edition by American contributor Bob Ruckman, who put a very strong case in favour of collecting medals numismatically rather than adopting what he termed the "specialist/researcher" approach, thus reinforcing the MEDAL NEWS team's experience at OMSA. This has already stimulated a spirited response from at least one MEDAL NEWS reader (see the "Letters" page), and the majority of collectors of British campaign medals would probably agree with him. However, MEDAL NEWS is an international publication, and the team is very keen to ensure that the collecting interests of all our readers are covered. Obviously, all collectors need to know the background and history of the medals they collect, if only for identification purposes, whether they research individual recipients or not. Additionally, unnamed honours and decorations can have very complicated and intriguing stories behind their evolution. MEDAL NEWS therefore intends to publish articles on these subjects from time to time (as long as our contributors provide the material). Now, on the subject of responses to the MEDAL NEWS reader survey: thank you to all readers who have sent in their completed questionnaires from the October issue. The results are still being analysed, but the overwhelming feeling amongst you seems to be that we have got the balance right and that "if it ain't broke we don't need to fix it". That said, there were some interesting comments regarding our mix of articles, with an overwhelming number of readers wanting to see more "Man Behind the Medal" articles, and more medal rolls. We hope to oblige in the coming months, but what we publish does rely totally on what our contributors send us. The full survey results will be published in a forthcoming issue, and there is still time to get those questionnaires in to us and help shape the magazine of the future.
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