KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON WELL we made it, we finally got to the end of a full year without any Covid-related lockdowns! Certainly, things aren’t “back to normal” completely, Covid is still around, and it sometimes feels as if we’re “waiting for the other shoe to drop” and living permanently under the threat of another nationwide shutdown. Of course, now that we are feeling the after-effects of furlough and printing the money to pay for it, the appetite for further measures may be less than it once was. As a hobby, we have escaped somewhat unscathed from the past nearly three years; some auction houses were able to carry on on-line only so that helped and dealers, too, were happy trading via their websites. The shows suffered, they were always going to, and even after lockdown ended there was still a marked hesitancy on the part of many to be in an enclosed space with so many others but, thankfully, a year later we are seeing an upturn in numbers once again and whilst masks may still be in evidence, for some that’s fine, whatever makes people feel safe as long as they come along! That isn’t to say there haven’t been some major changes in terms of fairs since Covid, not least the fact that the Aldershot show no longer exists, the venue having decided there is more money in other events and they are, apparently, actively discouraging fairs like Mark Carter’s even though he’d been a long-standing customer of theirs. Mark’s Stratford show has had to move rooms (it’s still in the Leisure Centre, just in a different space) and the first Yate show of the year in 2023 is a month later, but thankfully those are the only other changes we have to report with most other fairs carrying on where they left off. Auctions are a different kettle of fish though, and we have to ask if numbers actually present in the room on the day will ever get back to what they were pre-2020. Even then, numbers were vastly down on where they used to be, but that’s hardly surprising. Nowadays, if you can’t be in the room and don’t want to leave an absentee bid (the usual recourse for those unable to make it on the day) you don’t need to have someone bidding for you or even have a phone line booked, as you can simply sit behind your desk/in your study/in bed/wherever and follow the sale online. Some auctioneers have their own bidding platforms to facilitate this, others use third parties like Easy Live or the Saleroom. These were around pre-Covid, of course, but the pandemic pushed more people into using them and it seems unlikely they’ll go back. That’s fine, but there’s always the danger when you go online-only both for the catalogue or for bidding on the lot you specifically want, that you’ll miss those wonderful little oddities that make our hobby so interesting. If you only search for your theme, be it surname, town, regiment or whatever and only head onto the bidding platform when those lots are due, then who’s to say what you’ll miss out on. There’s many an auction I’ve been to where I have walked out the proud owner of something dramatically off theme that I’d never normally have bought because it caught my eye, I would have missed it had I not been there bidding when it came up or not searched the catalogue fully beforehand—if you have started buying at auctions via an online platform and aren’t able to sit through the whole sale, or have perhaps stopped getting paper catalogues (maybe the auctioneer isn’t even printing them anymore), then it’s worth taking a little time to go through everything and not just search your usual criteria—that’s how really interesting collections grow. You’ll thank me, I promise you! Now, whilst the Covid aftermath and trying to navigate our way in this post-Coronavirus world is perhaps the biggest “story” for our hobby this last year, the passing of Her Majesty and the accession of King Charles III runs it a very close second. For the last two months, I’ve spoken both here and in the news pages about what comes next for medals (whether that’s renames, redesigns or brand-new medals altogether) and this next year promises to be very interesting indeed—not least because we’ll have a brand-new Coronation Medal. This will mean we’re soon likely to see groups containing Diamond and Platinum Jubilee Medals and Coronation Medals. It will be a while before such things come onto the collectors’ market, I’m sure, but just knowing they are there is enough to whet the appetite! These past three years have been very strange indeed, and it seems likely that with rampant inflation, war in Ukraine and other factors outside of our control, the next 12 months isn’t going to be “normal” either, but we’ve got this far and I’m confident we can carry on and push through. We, and our hobby, are going to be OK!