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Remembered Today:

Leeds Rifles Museum


dundeesown

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I see that ebay has a lot from the Leeds Rifles Museum up for sale,no names or numbers but a few medals are up for sale may be worth dropping seller a line if anyone is looking for medals for a relative from the Regiment.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Box-50-loose-medals-Former-Leeds-Rifles-Museum-Items-/190569377638?pt=UK_Collectables_Militaria_LE&hash=item2c5ed1ef66

All the best Gary.

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Is it just me, but I find it a little disconcerting to see "Trustees" selling off medals which were donated to a museum.

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No, its not just you.

I suppose that can understand that they may have some medals that they cannot display, or that are outside their area of interest, but I find it a bit difficult that they are just offered as an anonymous collection. Each of those medals related to a serviceman, even if not one of the Leeds Rifles, and if they had to go, it would not have taken long to list those that have a known recipient. I find that quite sad.

Keith

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No, its not just you.

I suppose that can understand that they may have some medals that they cannot display, or that are outside their area of interest, but I find it a bit difficult that they are just offered as an anonymous collection. Each of those medals related to a serviceman, even if not one of the Leeds Rifles, and if they had to go, it would not have taken long to list those that have a known recipient. I find that quite sad.

Keith

I find it odd that medals that can be reconstituted as 'sets' are not advertised as sets, unless they mean that one anonymous medal can be grouped artificially with another but I think most of these will be named. I was not clear that these were actually 'Leeds Rifles' medals. Still, the job lot approach on Fleabay is odd and more information in the detail would have been useful (if not arguably essential to ethical disposal).

I can understand some of the problems facing the Leeds Rifles Trustees, especially since their museum is now subsumed into another. I am currently in the long process of dispersing quite a large collection of a previously registered museum (as an unpaid volunteer). I say 'currently' but this has occupied the last two years and will probably occupy the next three at some considerable effect on my personal and family life as well as impacting on the aims that I set myself on retirement (and the same is true of fellow trustees). We have worked very hard to ensure that all medal groups reach an appropriate home or are returned to donors as well as photographing and documenting them all for future reference.

There will, however, be a rump of some groups and individual medals that were acquistioned over the years that had no link with our collection and which are proving difficult to 'rehome'. In the end, these may be offered for sale with the proceeds devoted solely to the conservation of the remainder of the collection and digitisation of the archive. This is within the professional ethical guidelines for disposal but I recognise that medals have a a particular and deserved sensitivity in disposal. Trustees already meet substantial costs from their own pockets. Properly registered museums today should accept objects only in line with their defined acquisition policy. This may mean that the Museum of the Blankshire Regiment will not accept the the hundreth example of a BWM and AVM group, even if named to the Blankshires. The reality is that the walls of storage rooms and cabinets are not elastic, conservation and curation costs money that is in short supply and many museums would never be able to display all the medals that they have (although I know some try). One moves into the semantics of whether a museum is there to commemorate or educate. We tried to display the lot but a lot cannot. Are medals better off in these circumstances with collectors who will do the research than with a museum that may not be able to scratch the surface? I know of collectors in my own regimental field of interest who have added a huge amount to the knowledge surrounding the groups they own. If published, a huge service is done to the memory of those soldiers by such research.

The problem is not confined to medals. What am I to do (responsibly) with the piece of black bread preserved from the German POW camp in WW1 (with provenance), the twenty-five silk postcards showing divisional insignia or 'the flags of the Allies' or a lace baby's bib flogged to a named Tommy in Poperinghe anxious to find a present for home? Decisions on things like this can be quite difficult knowing what it meant to a particular soldier to send that item home to a family he may not have seen for some time and might never see again (which is why some steely professional should be doing it and not me).

I find this an odd approach but do not know the whole circumstances. Neither collection management nor disposal are entirely straightforward.

Ian

Edited by Ian Riley
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I would take it that the trustees made some attempt to return unwanted items to donors, and that in respect of these medals they failed, or had no records.

Keith

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That would I assume to be the situation Keith, if so then I cannot really see any problem with the museum disposing of the medals which will no doulbt end up in the hands of those who will appreciate them. I have no evidence that the opposite happens, that is the sale of donated artifacts without ant attempt to obtain the approval of the original donor. If that does occur then it would seem to me to negate the reason why such artifacts were donated in the first place plus it could lead to important collections / items being sold on the open market to the detriment of both local and national museums.

Regards

Norman

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  • 2 weeks later...

That would I assume to be the situation Keith, if so then I cannot really see any problem with the museum disposing of the medals which will no doulbt end up in the hands of those who will appreciate them. I have no evidence that the opposite happens, that is the sale of donated artifacts without ant attempt to obtain the approval of the original donor. If that does occur then it would seem to me to negate the reason why such artifacts were donated in the first place plus it could lead to important collections / items being sold on the open market to the detriment of both local and national museums.

Regards

Norman

Norman,

It is my understanding that a properly constituted disposal policy in line with best practice (having tried to write one) should involve offering them to other museums likley to be interested in the first instance, although not necessarily as a gift and that any sums raised should be devoted exclusively to the maintenance and conservation of the main collection. A museum professional might like to comment

I see this Leeds Rifles assortment has sold at around £2200. A note on the sale site says that they were mainly 'Leeds Rifles' attributable (I did contact the vendor to ask) with some 'strangers' and a couple unattributable. I hope it is the museum itself that has benefitted by this amount.

Ian

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I would take it that the trustees made some attempt to return unwanted items to donors, and that in respect of these medals they failed, or had no records.

Keith

Why?

Being Devil's Advocate here, what right does the donor have in this? I recently gave a postcard to a regimental collection (via the Forum). I signed a piece of paper handing the postcard over. Now, whereas I would hope that the p/c is used and kept by the museum, realistically I have no reason to object to the museum doing whatever it sees fit to do with said item. If the museum sold the p/c to help raise funds for the rest of the collection (on the basis that they already have dozens of p/cs of GW uniforms), then I'd actually be quite happy.

Sorry, but I'd rather the medals were sold to collectors to 'cherish' rather than sit and moulder in a box because the museum has nowhere to display yet another BWM/VM pair.

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I tend to agree with Steve, but also hope that museums would point out to donors that gifts of medals may be sold, under certain circumstances, in the future. I imagine that some families that hold a relative's medals and have no-one interested to pass them on to, but would not dream of selling them, would think that donating them to a local or regimental museum will ensure their safekeeping 'in perpetuity'.

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