Monday, July 4, 2011

Collecting Medals as an Investment

Commonwealth War Graves CommissionImage via Wikipedia

If you are a keen amateur military historian and you are looking for a good way to invest money, medal collecting might be an ideal place to start. Think for a moment about the economics of it; most of us will never win, let alone own a Victoria Cross, only 1356 have ever been awarded.

This means scarcity, Victoria Crosses, George Crosses, Burma Stars and Military Crosses are rare, they weren't handed out during wartime for anything other than acts of supreme courage and sacrifice, and their rarity is the key to their value. If you add this to the fact that many of the medals tell a story of their own, this is another reason they are sought after. A medal can often tell a piece of history and if the details of who it was awarded to and why are known it becomes more valuable.

How does one become a medal collector? Well firstly make sure you know all about the campaign it was awarded in, you might want to focus on a particular part of military history such as the Italian Campaign during World War Two. The more you know, the more likely you will be to spot a potential fake, and to be able to judge the medal's worth.

The HM Stationary Office has published a guide to medals, stars and crosses, and in fairness the different medals, clasps and ribbons that are awarded are quite complex. Getting hold of this guide is a very important place to start, you will not stand a chance of profiting from collecting unless you are absolutely clear about what you are buying.

The next thing to look at is finding a place to buy medals from. There are registered dealers of militaria, normally based in London but sometimes also in large army towns as well. The internet is a good place to look as well, however be careful to make sure you can verify what you are buying, EBay might be a convenient marketplace but there is nothing to stop anyone from selling counterfeit or stolen medals.

There are medals fairs that take place across the country, you can find out about them in medal collecting magazines and on medal collecting websites online, you are more likely to find reputable dealers at such events, but the following precautions should prevent you from being hoodwinked.

If you can make sure you can look at the medal in person before you pay for it. On the rim should be the name and service number of the man who it was awarded to. The National Archives has a register of medals and you can cross check the medal and the service number which should tell you whether you have a fake or not, and what the story of the medal is.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the Orders, Medals and Research Society and the National Archives are all excellent places to start your research, many collectors limit their enquiries to one particular regiment or division, once again, to build up a degree of expertise. Membership of the British Medal Society is also a good idea, you will have access to a wealth of expertise and knowledge and once again be able to access reputable dealers.

If you buy a medal and you find out who it was issued to and why this will affect the price. Medals given to officers are generally more valuable than ones awarded to private soldiers. Equally medals given to front line regiments have more value than those issued to corps regiments. Being as thorough as possible will add significantly to the value of your investment.

In some instances the service records and service histories of medal recipients has been more valuable to museums and to collectors than the medals themselves, so a little investigative work could indeed go a long way, which is the best kind of investment of all; there is nothing quite as satisfying as adding value to an asset through your own efforts and hard work.

James McHeggins is the content writer at a UK website which tracks down all the latest remortgage rates and remortgage deals so our customers don't have to.

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