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Vol 47 No.5
You are not alone…
FIRST things first — a big thank you to all dealers and collectors who made it to a very successful inaugural MEDAL NEWS Britannia show on March 29. We had over 300 people there throughout the day and I think everyone who attended were pleased with the result. We’ve already had a raft of bookings for the next fair (November 22) both from dealers who came along this time and others who hadn’t stalled out but were keen to “get in on the action” next time around. Comments from attendees such as “just like the good old days” and “I haven’t been elbowed like that since the 80s” show that the collectors were impressed too!
That all said the point of this Comment isn’t just one of self-praise — yes, the fair was a great success, yes, we’ll be doing it again and yes, we are very glad that we have been instrumental in keeping a medal fair in the Capital — especially now the OMRS Convention has taken a different route and the “public” per se won’t be able to attend (see MEDAL NEWS, April 2009 for more details of that). However, there was more to Britannia than simply a very good medal fair — indeed a number of the most positive comments have come not from dealers or successful buyers (although both groups also declared themselves well satisfied) but rather from collectors who actually didn’t buy very much at all — if anything. It seemed that those who came to look, to chat to fellow collectors to be “part of something” enjoyed the day just as much as those who walked away with a treasured addition to their collection and the acquisition of yet another group was not the sole motivation behind attending.
One thing those of us who attend the fairs regularly tend to forget is that for many this hobby is a solitary one, we aren’t part of a team, we don’t attend huge “swap meets”, don’t share our passion with our mates down the pub and don’t tend to share our interests that much with our families. The reasons for all this are obvious — there simply aren’t that many collectors around for huge meetings to ever happen, we don’t want to start talking about our expensive collections to all and sundry (who knows who may be listening) and let’s be honest we’d be horrified if our better halves did take too much of an interest — they’d know how much we were spending then! Continue Reading »
Vol 46 No. 5
AS we go to press another report on the prevalence of fake £1 coins in circulation has come to light. The findings of the report, this time coming from Willings, a company which makes machines to check coins for businesses and other organisations, apparently show that upwards of £73 million worth of forgeries could be out there. According to the BBC story into the report, car parking firms, vending machine operators, etc., have been sending coins to the company for checking and they have discovered that the percentage of fakes is far higher than, in fact over double, the Royal Mint’s estimate of last year.
In the last quarter of 2008 the Mint removed some 270,000 from circulation and it was estimated, from that, that 1 in 50 of the £1 coins in circulation was a forgery (see COIN NEWS, Editor’s Comment, November 2008). Now apparently Willings are claiming that as many as 5 per cent, that’s 1 in 20, are “wrong ’uns” and hysteria has once again broken out amongst the media who are claiming that “something must be done” and that with such a huge amount of money in fact not money at all, the country’s economy is in far worse shape than was ever suspected. Of course this is all sensationalism and it will die down very quickly, but numismatically the issue still remains—there are a great number of fake £1 coins out there and something really should be done.
Just how many fakes are in circulation will never be known, everyone’s just guessing, it’s the only way. But the fact that a company that specialises in checking coins for car parks and vending machine companies has estimated the number higher than the Royal Mint should come as no surprise. Continue Reading »
Vol 46 No. 4
Counting down with coins
WHILST the news is depressing us daily with talk of doom and gloom in recessionary Britain, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that it was only four years ago that the country was riding on a high of optimism following the announcement that London was to host the 2012 Olympics. It’s a trifle worrying, here in 2009, that we’ll be holding a traditionally mind-blowingly expensive event on the back of the biggest economic downturn for decades. But no matter, host it we will and hopefully we’ll get it right. Of course in the UK we always seem to leave things to the last minute—look at the Wembley Stadium debacle or the Millennium Dome—we’d only known for 2,000 years that the Year 2000 would be upon us one day, so the fact that it seemed to come as a surprise to those organising the celebrations was a surprise in itself. We all know that come 2011, indeed early 2012, the papers will be full of stories about stadia being unfinished, transport links behind schedule and planned regeneration projects on the back burner—it’s the way we seem to do things and so it is a nice surprise to find the Royal Mint actually ahead of the game with their Olympic coin programme. Olympic coinage has a long history and the host nation is always expected to lead the way, a challenge the Mint has risen to a very un-British three years before the Games.
Billed as “Britain’s biggest ever commemorative coin programme in honour of the momentous 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games” there are actually three strings to this particular bow. The first is the Countdown to London 2012—a series of four £5 coins issued in limited numbers in gold, silver and cupro-nickel at a rate of one design a year for the next four years. The first depicts a rather stylised pair of swimmers with the number 3 superimposed upon them; one assumes that next year’s coin will feature another sport and a number 2; 2011 will feature a different sport and a “1” and that the coin for 2012 will either have large “0”, the word “go” written upon it or depict a starting pistol or similar—hence the “countdown” of the programme’s title. The consensus in the COIN NEWS office is that whilst the idea is a sound one the design is a little too “radical” for our tastes—but that’s just us, we’ll leave our reader ’s to make up their own minds. Continue Reading »
Vol 47 No.4
All change for the OMRS in 2009
The annual Convention of the Orders and Medals Research Society has, for th last 31 years, been a highlight of the medal enthusiasts’ year. Apparently, however, this year things wil l be slightly different!
Back in the late 1970s, Convention was launched with the aim of allowing members to meet, dealers to sell and the Society to benefit from the income generated, but recently a declining level of members attending convention , a reduction in the number of dealers and a spiraling level of costs has resulted in the event becoming a cost to the society as opposed to an income generator. It has therefore decided that something had to change. As a not-for-profit organisation, but fortunately with a reserve of funds, the OMRS Executive was able to look at three options: either to continue as present thereby allowing Convention to die on the vine, to cease running altogether, or to invest and radically change. Fortunately for the society and the hobby, the latter option has been decided upon!
The most obvious change was the venue, especially with the financial troubles the New Connaught Rooms are now facing. A change was perhaps long overdue, but the survey conducted for the Society’s Diamond Jubilee clearly indicated that London as a location should continue and this is supported by the demographics of the membership, the dealers and the strong support received from overseas members. In all, six major venues were identified, with cost, facilities available and location being taken into consideration, with BMA House in Tavistock Square, London WC2 quickly becoming the preferred venue . However, to simply continue with a “medal fair” no matter how good, was not deemed to be sufficient. To cater for the widest number of members’ needs the society felt it necessary to offer a “comprehensive medallic programme”. Peter Helmore, the General Secretary of the Society, explained to us that the real dilemma was how to present this in a manner which did not conflict with the medal fair. It was felt that both could not be conducted simultaneously and a two day event would be required. Continue Reading »
Vol 46 No. 3
Every cloud . . .
WELL that’s it then, global meltdown, the end of capitalism, society is on the brink and the world as we know it is about to be swept aside. As we go to press with this edition in mid February 2009 we know that most of the “developed” world is in recession and most of the developing world is struggling to cope now that their own mini-booms are over. This was of course inevitable—ever since the seven fat cows and seven thin cows of the Joseph and his Technicolour dream-coat story in the Old Testament the world has experienced cycles of boom and bust, of good times and bad—despite any politicians insisting they’ve made such scenarios a thing of the past! Look back down the years and you’ll see a pattern emerging, of prosperity followed by paucity. This particular recession is just history repeating itself and anyone with an ounce of economic sense could have told you that it, or something like it, was the logical conclusion to a decade or more of unprecedented expansion. The media, of course, are making it worse, in this age of 24 hour global communications the slightest bit of bad news is jumped upon almost gleefully by the news agencies and made ten times worse by sensationalist reporting, making us all feel that this particular downturn is affecting us far harder and deeper than any before it. Any piece of good news is conveniently Continue Reading »
Vol. 47 No. 3
All the fun of the fair
YOU will forgive me, I hope, if I use this “comment” to once again plug the forthcoming Britannia Medal Fair on March 29. I realise there are other medal related things going on and they do deserve a mention, but just for this month please indulge me because we truly believe that this is quite important!
After I had announced in the February issue that we at MEDAL NEWS were taking over the Britannia Medal Fair we had a flood of emails, letters and ‘phone calls from dealers and collectors alike all wishing us the best of luck, pledging their support and promising they would attend. The dealers have been as good as their word and as you will see from the feature on pages 28–29 we have a full house for our inaugural show—and I am sure that all the readers who have promised to come along will honour their pledges too—it should be a good day!
Of course, the vast majority of correspondence came from those who had visited the Britannia Fair in the past—they were all keen that the event should continue so that Continue Reading »