brought heroism, medals and medal collecting far more into the public’s consciousness than even MEDAL NEWS can do! Indeed in the Channel Five programmes he is introduced to the viewers not as a politician, nor a businessman, but rather as a military historian and medal collector—showing everyone how those little bits of metal and silk are an intrinsic part of the story of the heroes whose actions amaze us all. So as a collector I’m certainly not jealous—I may envy his buying power and his collection, but certainly nothing more negative than that!
Interestingly though there are some in our hobby who believe that what Lord Ashcroft has done—essentially buying up a very large number of the “better” groups and now, with his plans to exhibit them and not sell them on, not give anyone else a “chance” to own them—is actually a hindrance and that he has in some way damaged the hobby. I don’t believe that their attitude is sparked by jealousy— none of those who I have been in contact with exhibit that trait at all, but rather from a sense that we should all get a chance to own such gems and now, as they are all in the Ashcroft Collection, with the possibility of even more being added in the future, we never will.
I can understand their thinking to a certain extent, as a collector myself I would dearly love to own a Victoria Cross, indeed any particularly exceptional group, to “my” regiment (or any regiment come to that!) but often that simply isn’t possible as they are either in a museum or in the collection of a fellow enthusiast (did I hear you say rival...?). At least with the latter I know there’s an offside chance he may one day sell but with the museum, and now with the Ashcroft Collection, I know that my hopes of owning such a group are dashed forever. But let me put it to you like this—if I, or indeed any of you reading this were ever lucky enough to own a VC group, or an exceptional Special Forces group, what would we do with it? How many people would know about it? Get to see it? Very few of course, we’d all be terrified that one day the wrong person would get to hear of it and we’d be burgled, losing it forever—so we would probably opt to keep it in the bank, never to see the light of day until the time came for us to sell it on to the next custodian who would surely do the same. We wouldn’t want to loan it to a museum for many of them too, as fearful of crime as we, would most likely put a copy on display and again leave the real one in the vault, hardly ideal. What Lord Ashcroft is doing with his VCs and, it now transpires with his Special Forces groups is, in the fullness of time, to allow us all,