Portrait of a Lady

Posted on Thurs, 7 September 2017 by Phil Mussell
Posted in: Medal News
Portrait of a Lady Pastures new

FOLLOWING the Editorial in the June/July issue the bullet has been bitten, the mind made up—it’s time for a new theme . . . ! I have, for some time now been at something of a crossroads with my collecting. I am, at heart, a true collector, an accumulator and it is the thrill of the hunt, the joy of the find, that makes the hobby so much fun for me and whilst I also enjoy the research aspects (particularly discovering something no one else knew about), when I realise that I haven’t added anything to the collection for a year and those items that do come up are well out of my budget, I begin to get a little despondent.

So it is that my main collection comes up for sale shortly (all except those few bits I’ve promised to others over the years) and I prepare to start again. I have no intention of giving up the hobby, I love it too much, but what to collect next? I have been seeking advice from numerous collectors recently and have found that many have done exactly what I’m doing now : started completely afresh. Some kept their first collection and simply moved on to pastures new, whilst others decided to start from scratch lest they be tempted to run two themes and themselves into the financial ground in the process. I’m very much in that latter camp—I tried having two themes when I first started (Notts and Derby Regiment World War I and Devon Regiment, Boer War onwards to their amalgamation with the Dorsets in 1958). But it didn’t work out well and I ended up with two half-assed collections that didn’t really inspire me at all. My “Chaplains” collection, on the other hand, was far more complete and comprised groups and singles from across history. Of course, I knew that I would never be able to find “one of everything”, but I most certainly had fun trying.

What I would like to do now is something similar, but I just don’t know what. I have no military background myself so cannot collect to my old regiment or ship. I wasn’t in the police or fire service and whilst life-saving awards fascinate me (there are one or two in the Chaplains collection), I must say that I personally prefer military campaign and gallantry medal s and the stories that go with them. I had considered inter-allied Victory medals until I saw the stunning display at OMSA and realised that I could never compete. I had also thought about groups with foreign awards until I realised that my budget can’t go much beyond a croix de guerre or two. Ideally I would, perhaps, want to try to acquire “signature” groups—an Islandwhana casualty, a Light Brigade Charger, a Korea group to the Glosters, but then wouldn’t we all? If I were to go down that route I fear I will soon be back where I am now— with items coming up only rarely and even then selling at well beyond my budget. “Mussell” groups are no good—they come up less often than Chargers—and local groups don’t really appeal, as whilst we are based in Exeter that wasn’t where I was born or raised.

So it is that I am at something of an impasse. The really difficult decision has been made, so unless I win the lottery this Saturday and can afford two themes (and those hitherto elusive groups that have only been pipe dreams up until now), I’m starting off anew, I just don’t know in which direction. What, I wonder, made you collect what you do? Surnames are obvious, as indeed are home towns or old regiments, but what of you with more eclectic tastes? What prompted you to take up your particular theme? I really would love to know! I wonder if your answers will be as straightforward as that given by a well-respected collector recently when I asked him why he collected medals to women. “Why, that’s simple,” he replied, “ I love women”.

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