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Alternative Investment: Medal Collecting Market Tips

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By Marcus Selmon

In this world of economic uncertainty, what were considered stable investment options, stocks, property; ISA's are now deemed as risky as they ever have been since the Great Depression. It's time to go off the beaten track and find a new investment vehicle and we believe collecting medals, specifically war medals is as good as any to see a good return. One simple fact helps, The Victoria Cross, the highest award for bravery in the UK armed forces, has only been awarded 1,356 times in 155 years. They have gone for as much as 400,000 at auction.

Obviously with Victoria Crosses, scarcity is what drives the price, the same is true for other medal types such as the Military Cross, George Cross and Burma Star. They were only given to those who went above and beyond their duty, what many don't understand is that it's also the story behind these medals that is valuable and will increase the value of the medal is you can piece it together.

When you're new to the subject, it can seem obtuse on how to start, most people start as they have inherited or found a medal, so we'll start from this angle. Start your research with the campaign the medal was awarded in, do some background not just to add value, but you will also learn how to spot copies and fake medals, lessening your chances of being swindled.

What is considered the bible of UK medal collecting is published by HM Stationary Office, they publish a comprehensive catalogue of every past and present military award commissioned, not just medals but also ribbons, citations, clasps etc. You wouldn't buy a house after a quick walk around the outside, you need to know as much as possible, the same applies to medal collecting if you want to profit from it.

Where is the best place to buy medals? You can go to official dealers who will authenticate their goods and hopefully not try and pass off false medals to the public. But you probably will not get the best bargains from them. These may be found at sites like Ebay and other online marketplaces. But remember the saying "Buyer Beware" because there are forgeries out there than can trap the inexperienced. That is where your knowledge is so important.

In addition, there are medal fairs that will take place all across Britain at some point, the easiest way of finding these events is to check collectors magazines and websites, it's worth going along before you even begin collecting to know who are reputable dealers, make contacts and pick up some detailed knowledge on collecting and what makes the best investment.

Never buy a medal without seeing it first in person. Check the details on the medal. Then if possible take the time to cross reference those details with the records available. This is where your various sources of research are so important. Look for the name and number of the person to whom the medal was awarded. Find out what the seller knows about the history behind the award of the medal Perhaps the seller is a family member of the person who the medal was given to.

If the National Archives only give you the basics, you can add meat to your research by accessing the records of other organisations such as the War Graves Commission or the Order, Medals and Research Society. There is also the British Medal Society, which you can pay an annual membership to, between these three institutions, the wealth of knowledge and expertise you have access to as an amateur will expand your knowledge base considerably.

As your knowledge develops you will start to know where the real value is to be found in the areas you make your own You will discover why some medals have stories that continue to be of interest so that the medals increase in value. You will discover those medals in short supply and those which attract buyers. Medals for Officers for example are often more highly valued than those for other ranks.

The opportunities for investing in medals can really be summarized as follows. The interest they can provide as you develop your expertise. The relatively small amounts of money you require to begin investing. The possible returns on those investments as a percentage of the amount you spend against what you can later sell for.

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