This market is now worth £20m ($33m) per annum
This market is now worth 20m ($33m) per annum
Why are more and more people collecting rare medals?
2009 was a remarkable year for medals collectors.
A world record was set for the sale of a single Victoria Cross at 348,000
Lord Ashcroft (whose collection of VCs we recently focussed on in our newsletter) bought one of only three ever VC-and-bars (a double award of the VC, in this case to Noel Chavasse) for 1.5m.
But medal collecting is not as well known as some other areas, perhaps because those who specialise in medal collection are most impressed with the quiet courage which many gallantry medal winners possess.
Ostentatious display just isnt as appropriate as it might be for a work of art.
Nevertheless, the medals market has been estimated by Oliver Pepys, medal expert at Spink auctioneers, as worth 20m per year, and it has proved a very reliable market.
Theres no doubt that the number of people collecting medals as an investment has increased in recent times due to this solidity, and sometimes the awards achieve far more than expected, such as a DCM which doubled its top estimate to sell for 120,000.
Most collectors however have a particular interest which they wish to satisfy.
Lord Ashcroft, for example was quite happy to pay over the odds for Noel Chavasses medal given that its extremely unlikely a similar chance will come again in the foreseeable future.
Russian collectors often favour Nazi decorations and other memorabilia.
Whilst this is unusual in the UK, and illegal in Germany, Russians often treasure the trappings of the enemy they fought in battles they look back on with pride, notably the defence of Stalingrad.
In general, it is the combination of moments of very personal bravery in the context of a significant events in history such as the Napoleonic wars and WW1 that drive the market, and there can be no new supply of medals from any of these wars.
Even before its schedule of medals auctions for the year has been put forward, Bonhams has announced that it intends to sell a set of First World War medals for 200,000.
If you are interested in buying rare medals please feel free to contact us for impartial advice.
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