RAF 100 Inspiration
Volume 56, Number 7, August 2018
Rule Britannia! FOR some of you the news that the Britannia Medal Fair has been taken over by auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb will be greeted with much delight. The event has become something of an institution in the medal world and knowing that its future is now secure will have been as welcomed as warmly by you as it was in the Token Publishing offices when we first heard. There is no doubt that our hobby, at least for a great number of us, wouldbe poorer without Britannia—that is why we at MEDAL NEWS took it over some years ago—solely in order to prevent it disappearing when former organisers Jeannie Robinson and Fred Walland decided to call it a day. We had never wanted to be fair organisers, however, and so when we had the option to let a “proper” organiser run itwe jumped at the chance; they had successfully run a number of coin shows and felt that medals were their next logical move but, in turn, they decided the event would be better served by handing it over to someone with more contacts in the hobby and more experience with medal fairs so Mark Carter duly stepped forward, running Britannia very successfully for two years. Unfortunately market forces were against him and the venue’s price increases this year had led to him looking around for another place to hold the much loved event, with the last one in March 2018 scheduled to be the final one in Seymour Street. Now though DNW have stepped in, offering to fund the show to allow it to stay in the Victory Services Club, its home for nearly three decades, Mark Carter will still continue to run the show on a logistical level, bringing all his experience to the operation, but it will be DNW who are footing the bill for the venue. Not only that but they have also generously offered not to charge stall holders for their tables and to let the collectors come in for nothing! We have always felt this was the best way to encourage the public to attend shows and we never charged an entry fee but, of course, both the previous two fair organisers were running Britannia as a business venture and so we can’t blame them for charging to get in—DNW, however, have said collectors won’t have to pay a penny and they are to be heartily applauded for their generosity. I said earlier that “some” of you would greet this news with delight as, for others, it won’t make a blind bit of difference. For you whether Britannia, or indeed any show, folds or carries on is of no consequence at all to your hobby. It’s not that you wish any ill will towards the organisers or the stallholders who take part in the fairs it’s just that you never go to them, probably never have, you collect solely from home, perusing lists and websites to find your latest acquisitions, maybe bidding at auctions on-line or over the phone, but never do you get up early on a Sunday, queue up for hours and then, when the doors do finally open, rush headlong in to a room trying to spot that elusive bargain before your fellow collectors get to it. That kind of thing just isn’t your scene. Or perhaps it was once, in the days when the only way to look at new stock was to go to a show and see what the dealer had on his table, but now, in the days of the internet you know that you can see everything on line, so why bother wasting a Sunday when you can look at it anytime from the comfort of your own home? I get it, I really do, time is precious these days so why spend it in an airless, windowless room gazing at what you’ve already seen on a website? Why? Quite simply because peering at website stock behind a glass case is only a very, very small part of what shows are —granted in the past buying might have been their primary reason for being but today they’ve changed and it might be worth finding out how and why. In the past a good day at a fair was one where you either found a bargain or managed to add something to your collection that you had been searching for for ages, that’s still the case, of course it is, everybody loves it when they get that group cheaply or when they track down that rarity, but these days you are just as likely to hear a collector say “well I didn’t buy anything but I had a great day”. They might not have bought anything no, but maybe they met up with some friends, maybe spoke to someone else who shares their theme and got some useful info, maybe they sold something or managed to look at a VC or an Army Gold Medal that an auction house had on display to promote their next sale or maybe, just maybe, they spent an hour or two just taking it all in, surrounding themselves with medals, and with like-minded people sharing the experience of being a collector. I’ve said this before, many times I know but collecting from behind a computer can be a lonely business and there is something quite therapeutic about getting out there and sharing your hobby with others—give it a go, you won’t be disappointed I promise you. The next Britannia Fair is on Sunday, November 18, at the Victory Services Club, Seymour Street, London. We’ll see you there!
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