Connecting Up FOLLOWING my announcement in February that my official “new theme” was medals to recipients from Exeter (specifically “my side” of Exeter, north of the river), I was rather chuffed to find that a number of you had actually read this “Comment” and, not only that, but you had remembered enough to alert me to a Memorial Plaque coming up at a local auction house (see News and Views on page 8). As it happened, the gentleman whose Plaque it was had actually lived on the “dark side” of the city (there be dragons!) but, being a collector and thus having no self-control when it comes to things even vaguely connected with my main theme, I decided to have a go anyway and duly bid. As the Plaque (to Private John Edwin Voysey of the 7th Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, killed in action on the second day of the Battle of Cambrai in November 1917, born in Ide, Devon, and living with his wife Edith in St Thomas, Exeter) didn’t fit my criteria exactly, I wasn’t overly fussed when I wasn’t successful and the lot hammered at £75; but then I started wondering how much it might have gone for had I carried on. After all, with the “bits”, this Plaque cost the successful bidder nearly £100—which seems quite a lot for an item that has no particular historical significance beyond any other Memorial Plaque. John wasn’t a gallantry award winner, wasn’t a high ranker, didn’t die on the first day of the battle or have anything else about him that would set him apart from any of the thousands killed during World War I and for whom a Plaque, some medals and maybe an old photograph in uniform would have been all the next of kin had to remember their service. Yet at least two of us were prepared to bid on this Plaque to get it up to nearly £100 in total. Now, of course, the successful bidder may well have been a “name” collector and, as Voysey isn’t overly common, they may well have been prepared to go far higher. They may have been a descendant of John’s and were happy to pay whatever it took. They may have had John’s medals (he was entitled to the pair) or, like me, they may have been interested in local history; after all, it was a local auction house and the medals were sold to the room. And that got me thinking still further. What if, out there amongst the 130,000 or so people in Exeter (probably far more now—like everywhere, we have become a huge building site in recent years with houses going up all over the place), there are other medal collectors interested in Exeter recipients? What if out there are other collectors with the medals that go with the Plaques I have? What if there are collectors with that key piece of research I’m missing? And they don’t have to be in Exeter of course, they could be in Sunderland, Dallas or Sydney (quite why they’d be collecting to the Devon capital is their affair!). Are there such people? Well yes, there are bound to be, I concede that there won’t be many “Mussell” medal collectors in the world, but there are going to be plenty of people in the world who have Exeter medals in their collections even if recipients from the city isn’t something they’d consider as their “theme”. Now, I fully appreciate that these people may well not wish to part with their medals so that I can add to my collection (I wouldn’t), but I’d still like to know about them, still like to get in touch with them, if only to share research or, indeed, to know what is extant. I mentioned in February how I would love to find the medals and Plaque of Alfred Hurved of the Welsh Regiment because he once lived in the house I’d owned for some 16 years; but I wouldn’t mind if a Welsh regiment collector or a member of the Hurved family had them, I’d not try to convince them to part with the group (indeed if it were a member of the family who has them I’d offer up the MSM awarded to Alfred’s cousin that currently resides in my cabinet) but I’d still like to know where they were. I might be able to add to their story. To this end we will, in the next few months, be introducing a service that enables collectors with similar interests to connect with each other. I appreciate on-line forums allow this to happen, and I myself have been in touch with people that way, but not everyone goes on-line all the time and this new service will be very easy to use—just send us your name (doesn’t have to be a full name), a list of your interests and your contact details. It’s up to you whether it’s a phone number or email address; we won’t print addresses so there will be no security issues. It will be a bit like the free classified advertising but will be aimed specifically at those looking to connect with others who share their interests. And no, it’s not a dating service (we won’t be adding “pina coladas” or “getting caught in the rain” under anyone’s list of interests so please don’t ask) although what you get up to once you make contact is entirely your business! Look out next month for more details...!