News & Blog

Fighter Ace

Posted on Mon, 30 January 2023 by Karen Needs - Medal News

Of interest? I RECEIVED an interesting letter just before Christmas, it was from a gentleman who told us that it was “depressing to read articles every month of people buying items for hundreds of thousands of pounds with limited or no coverage for other collectors like me”. Now, I have to object to at least part of his complaint, we do try our best to cover as much as possible across the collecting spectrum and don’t only talk about the rare groups or medals worth £100,000s and do try to cover medals everyone can relate to with articles about actions or campaigns that appeal across the board. That said, the reader was absolutely correct that we do cover more expensive items—particularly in Auction Highlights and News & Views because those are the things that we believe are the highlights, they are the newsworthy bits! Whilst it’s perhaps more realistic for collectors to read about the lower value items making what they are supposed to, to read about World War I trios fetching £70–80 or “with the rations” MMs selling for a few hundred pounds each, such stories wouldn’t usually be considered “news”. Things worth reporting on, things worthy of the name “highlights” are, by their very nature the unusual items, the expensive items, the attention-grabbing items, the ones with the fabulous citations or the ones unique to the unit, more “ordinary” pieces just aren’t that interesting. Or are they? It is not our job, of course, to report on every single lot sold at auction, each auction house will publish their prices realised and it’s a simple matter of given the auctioneer a call or going online to see what made what. As a rule we haven’t got the room to report on everything and so it seems futile to report on things that make what we all expect them to. Across the world, auction reports are the same, they focus on the big-ticket items, the rarities, the things that make the big bucks—you’ll never see a BBC report on a local artist’s paintings making £100 but when a Picasso makes £100m then that’s news. We have always followed that pattern, not everything we report on makes £100,000s but I fully accept we rarely report on anything that makes just a tenner. I call it the “Top Gear Principle”, when people tune in every week to the motoring show not to see reviews of spark plugs or windscreen wipers, but to see supercars or lumbering luxury SUVs costing a quarter of a million being blasted around a track. Few of us will ever own a such a car but we like watching them, like to think to ourselves “maybe one day” even if we know were we to win the lottery we’d never splash out on something quite as gaudy as the bright green Lamborghini featured on that week’s show. The same goes for property shows—there are a plethora of TV programmes that look at “Grand Designs” or those that concentrate on the multi-million-pound houses with heli-ports, swimming pools and home cinemas. Yes, there are those that concentrate on holiday homes or auction purchases that are “done up” and sold on but few of these programmes bother with the life and times of a suburban semi. The semis, the “ordinary” houses that we live in, don’t make for headlines and I’ve always thought it was the same in the collecting world—that people don’t want to read about the everyday. But am I right? Have I, for years, been kidding myself that MEDAL NEWS readers care about the big-ticket items? Are you really interested in knowing how much a VC sold for? Do you care about the Rorke’s Drift defenders, the Light Brigade chargers, the Falklands gallantry groups et al? For me such things are the very essence of “highlights”. I personally don’t really want to know about the smaller stuff, I can find that information out if I need to, I know that, so I’d rather read about the stuff I can’t afford with that ever hopeful “maybe one day” in the back of my mind, but is that just me? Would you, the readers, rather we didn’t concentrate on the big sellers and instead focused on more realistic items, the items more of you are likely to have in your collections? (I do accept some of you have the bigger ticket items, they’re being bought by somebody after all, but you know what I mean!). Have these more straitened times turned you away from wanting to know about others spending hundreds of thousands when you’re only spending hundreds or less? Have you felt that because you’ll never own such things coverage of them has no relevance to you and so you don’t want to read about them? We know we’ll never please everybody all of the time of course, if we do start reporting more on World War I groups then those who collect only Indian Mutiny Medals will say that isn’t relevant to them and if we concentrate only on QSAs the modern collectors will feel left out, but maybe better that than people who will never own a Victoria Cross (i.e. most of us) feeling neglected. Would you rather the “news” was more relevant to your collecting or are you happy hearing about the World Records? Would you perhaps rather the Auction Highlights included things that you yourself might own or do you feel such things shouldn’t really be considered “highlights” at all? We want to make this magazine enjoyable for all and so if we’re wide of the mark with what you want to read about then do please let us know. Equally if you’re happy with our “Top Gear Principle” and want to read more about the Bentleys and Ferraris of the medal world then please let us know that too! We look forward to hearing from you!