This market is now worth £20m ($33m) per annum
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 isn’t 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.

There’s 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 Chavasse’s medal given that it’s 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.

+44 (0) 117 933 9503


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