Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Splitting Groups - Good business or greed?

For as long as medals have been bought and sold groups of medals have been split up, you just have to browse a few dealer's list to see how many single medals are missing their mates.

The reasons are many; the owner could split them amongst his descendants so they have one each (my Great-Uncle did this), medals get lost (then a singleton is discovered in the back of drawer by the house clearance folk) and there is the deliberate action by collectors and dealers.

Collectors will split a group because they are only interested in one of the medals.

Dealers will split groups for profit. One such dealer who admitted they do this is Liverpool Medals, as I was told by Joshua Rosenberg they buy groups and will separate them to sell them more quickly:

“If what you are asking is that we list them as one, It would make it much
more difficult to sell as a group, and it is not even clear if it is the
same person due to difference in service numbers and units, the two groups
appeal to different collectors.”

They also do this to increase profit - or try to.

A recent example from Liverpool Medals is the splendid group to Colonel FH Chapman Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry: MVO, IGS, QSA and Union of South Africa Commemoration Medal.


The group was sold by the Truro Auction Centre in August  2014 for £1600.

It appeared on Liverpool Medals' website the next month in two parts; the three campaign medals for £1395 and the Union medal for £995. You can easily tell it is the same Union medal by a pin hole in the top centre of the blue stripe on the ribbon.





The two lots remain unsold.

This is a huge shame as the Union medal is rare and is issued unnamed. Colonel Chapman's entitlement is verified. If the group remains separated then in the future Colonel Chapman's entitlement to the Union medal could be lost. This is an important point relevant to all split groups; how many sources does a collector search in the hope someone was entitled to a rare or unusual medal?

The Register is recording as many QSA and KSAs it can that are offered for sale or known to exist in private collections. In this way groups such as Colonel Chapman's are being recorded for posterity. Unfortunately The Register can't afford to reunite such groups - or more importantly refuses to feed the greed of Liverpool Medals.

The split that prompted my conversation with Liverpool Medals over their policy concerned the medals to Pte 6270 JJ Jackson Northumberland Fusiliers: QSA, KSA, 1914-15 Star trio (RAMC & CAHTC) and Silver War Badge. Sold by Alec Kaplan & Sons, Johannesburg in May 2013. Liverpool Medals bought it and split the QSA and KSA from the WW1 medals (the SWB was not with the group sold by Kaplans), because they could sell the QSA & KSA to a Northumberland's collector quickly and they didn't believe it was to the same man. Jackson was discharged in South Africa so could easily have earned the WW1 medals. Most dealers would not split the group together and leave it to a keen collector to prove the group.

Jackson's QSA & KSA were sold quickly, the WW1 trio languish on the website.



Collectors strip out (or lose) medals.

The QSA, Kimberley Star pair to Cpl 86 J Laskey Kimberley Light Horse have been sold in 2011 and 2014. In February the QSA only turns up with London Medals, a discussion with them indicates they only bought the QSA, not having seen the Kimberley Star. This is annoying but not disastrous, the Kimberley Star was issued unnamed to all defenders of Kimberley and there is no roll. Unlike the examples above, one can easily tell if a man was eligible for the Kimberley Star. Laskey's missing Star is unfortunate but not irretrievable.

In the upcoming Bene Merenti Auktionen sale they are offering the group to Lt-Colonel S Bogle-Smith 2nd Dragoon Guards and Remounts. This group was sold in 1962 and 2014, now it is missing and Austrian Order of the Iron Crown. Why? I don't know, I just hope the Order has not been stripped out for a collection or for profit.

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