News & Blog

Record Price

Posted on Fri, 29 July 2011 by Phil Mussell - Medal News

Guide Lines

THE 2012 edition of the much acclaimed MEDAL YEARBOOK will be launched, as ever, at the OMRS convention in September (September 24–25 at the British Medical Association, London) and once again we hope it will be a book to treasure. We’ve added in as many of the new medals as we know about (the design for the Diamond Jubilee Medal being announced just in time—it would have been a shame not to be able to include it in the 2012 book) and, of course, all prices have been revised in line with the current market which, although not as manically buoyant as it was say five years ago, remains strong even in the face of the recent credit crunch and subsequent recession. The prices are the central point of the book, yes it is an exceptionally useful tome for reference and identification but the pricing is what makes it unique and every year we are asked how we price the YEARBOOK medals and what criteria we use when doing so.

To put it simply we enlist the help of a number of dealers/collectors associations when pricing medals and take an average of their prices, along with those on other selected dealers’ lists and an average of those fetched at auction. That said, auction prices are notoriously difficult to factor in because a single sale where two bidders are fighting for a particular medal may skew the final figures and may not be a true reflection of market prices, so they have to be examined very carefully. This is particularly true with on-line auction prices where true market values often have no influence on the bidding. It is all very well to say something is worth what someone is prepared to pay for it but when you have the case of a British War Medal fetching over £100 because two people with the same surname are fighting over it and when the next one with the same surname comes up it fetches the standard price because person A already has one and so doesn’t need to bid against person B you will see why that adage doesn’t always ring true. All prices are based on the medals being awarded, unless otherwise stated, to an “ordinary” ranked recipient, e.g. a Private Soldier, in a “standard” line regiment (or equivalent), i.e. not one involved in a particular action for which the regiment is famous (for example, the Light Brigade at Balaclava, the 24th Foot at Isandlwana or the “Glorious Glosters” at Imjin River). That recipient will be male unless the medal is usually awarded to women (Suffragette Medal, various nursing medals, etc.) and will not be a casualty (wounded or killed). In other words the price quoted is a starting point, other factors will, as a rule, only increase the value of a medal. We don’t include different price points for different “grades” of medal as generally speaking condition doesn’t affect value overmuch. In this respect medals are utterly unlike many other collectables (particularly coins) where condition is everything and the price of an “EF” example can be many times that of one in average condition. Yes, it is true that a particularly worn or battered medal may fetch less than a shinier counterpart (particularly if the naming is damaged or illegible in places) but that isn’t always the case, indeed some collectors actively welcome polished or worn medals as they show they were worn with pride by the recipient themselves—all adding to the story.

We are sometimes asked why we don’t value groups in the same way as “singles”—we do value the more commonly found groups—such as the World War I Trio—but to go further would be to open up a can of worms (we would inevitably omit some that collectors considered “common” whilst including others considered rare) and, with the vast permutations available, it would prove nigh on impossible to include everything.

Valuing medals can never be an exact science—the rank of the recipient, their regiment, squadron or ship, the actions they were involved in, what other medals they may have, or may not have, their gender, their age, their service record, their home town, their place of birth or of death all can have a marked effect on a medal’s price and to draw up a definitive list of exactly what something should be worth would be impossible, and slightly pointless. The only true value of a medal or group is in what you as a collector are prepared to pay for it, and having done so whether you are happy with the deal. If you find a group to a recipient who shares your surname, fought with your old regiment and once lived in your village then to you its value will probably be many times what the book says—but you will, I’m sure be very happy to own it. Always remember—what something costs you and what its true value is can often be very different things. Our MEDAL YEARBOOK is a guide, a useful one I hope but a guide nonetheless, the true worth of your collection can only ever really be known to you. You collect for your own reasons and base your purchases, and the price you’re prepared to pay for them, on your own criteria—that’s one of the very reasons this hobby is so fascinating and so diverse. And one of the main reasons I love being a collector!