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Remembered Today:

Collection of the Soldiers of the Oxfordshire Battalion Medals up for sale.


RitchiebytheC

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RitchiebytheC

Good morning folks, I have just seen this post on Facebook and thought that I would share on here. Apologies if this has already been posted.

It was posted by Tom Andrews on the "Medals LOST< STOLEN or FOUND page. i must admit that this filled me with both sadness and anger at the same time.

 

"You may be interested to know that the Soldiers of Oxfordshire museum is selling off a large amount of its' medal collection. The link may be found here:
I've posted this to demonstrate a couple of things: The first is that museums sell their medal collections, so that the idea that giving medals to a museum will lead to their being displayed there (or even actually wanted by the museum). The second, which links to the first, is that collectors are often the people who look actually after and treasure these items."
 
There appears to be over 100 lots so hopefully there will be someone out there that can be reunited with their family medals.
The auction is on the 14th of April. I have attached a small screenshot.
This is such a shame as many people appear to give medals to museums in the hope that they will always be on permanent display..
Just in case the link in the quote doesn't work, here is the link; Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (14 April 2021) Lots | Dix Noonan Webb (dnw.co.uk)
 
Regards
RitchiebytheC

Oxfords Auction.JPG

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I think you will find that the rules on donated museum objects are that before a museum can dispose of them they have to be offered back to the donator and if they dont want them they have to offer them to any other museum .These medals could have been bought by the museum

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4 minutes ago, GROBBY said:

I think you will find that the rules on donated museum objects are that before a museum can dispose of them they have to be offered back to the donator and if they dont want them they have to offer them to any other museum .These medals could have been bought by the museum

 

I doubt that any museum would buy WW1 Trios, or keep records of who donated them.

 

BillyH.

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Moonraker

Arts Council guidance

 

Last autumn there was a flurry of media coverage about museums (mostly in the US) talking of selling off items because of the shortfall in income caused by Covid. And in the last couple of days I've seen an article on the same theme in a British paper. (I can't recall which one, but it would only be available behind a paywall.)

 

Several times we've discussed museums and libraries selling off items (eg IWM and books), as well as the former being given multiple sets of similar medals . There's a limit to how many medals, however gallantly won, visitors want to see, and many are stored away.

 

We've also discussed the fate of other forms of collections and notes after we pass on and somewhere there's a thread I started about my postcard collection and six large files of notes. When I approached possible recipients, I got a slightly sniffy rejection from the IWM, a couple didn't bother to reply, and one was enthusiastic.

 

Recently I revised my will and stipulated that any organisation bequeathed my postcards could sell them after they'd copied them (which would take it quite a bit of time and resources), with a fallback position for my executors that they could arrange for the collection to be sold to a dealer or auctioned off. It would be a shame to split the collection up but would provide a bonanza for collectors of the same theme. (Nowadays there's a paucity of good material on eBay.)

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Dai Bach y Sowldiwr

Very interesting thoughts and plans Moonraker, I suppose that nicely illustrates the joys and pitfalls of collecting.

It's always going to be cyclical isn't it?

A collection will start off small, gradually grow and become specialized and large, until the time comes for the baton to be passed to the next generation, by which time, it's too large and expensive for a beginner to take over.

There is then no realistic alternative in most cases but to break a collection up so that the items can be cared for.

Yes it's a shame if an individual's medals are split up, but collections? Say from one regiment, or one battalion? Not really.

As long as the items still exist afterwards and are not destroyed. 

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I agree with you Billy about buying .I have just checked with someone who knows about donation acceptance and what I put before is realy Best accepted practice  or if the museum is accredited. The museum I volunteer for has a very strict acceptance pollicy and all objects accepted have to be logged in ,in triplicate one sheet going to the donator one going with the object in storage and one going in records .I do not like to see museums selling objects as this puts off anyone donating relatives or there own stuff.

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Moonraker
5 minutes ago, Dai Bach y Sowldiwr said:

... Yes it's a shame if an individual's medals are split up, but collections? Say from one regiment, or one battalion? Not really...

I think that most of us here deprecate the splitting up of an individual's medals and I've winced when a group of postcards or letters from /to the same person is offered card by card on eBay. On the other hand I would be only interested in cards relating to Wiltshire, whereas a serviceman would have been based in many other locations. A year of two ago a collection of Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry cards sent by one man and showing his pre-WWI summer camps was split up. Some scenes were anonymous, others were outside Wiltshire, a few were bland, but I was gagging after a couple that featured Shepherds Shore on the Devizes-Beckhampton road.

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Moonraker
5 minutes ago, GROBBY said:

...I do not like to see museums selling objects as this puts off anyone donating relatives or there own stuff.

But what's the point if the stuff ends up in a storeroom, never to be seen again?

 

Congratulations to your museum, Grobby, for keeping records. And it's important that the recipient organisation makes its policy clear on its website or on its premises, pointing out that it cannot possibly display all donations and reserves the right to dispose of them.

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Normaly the museum will not accept the object if it cant display it then or in the near future or if its not relevant to the museum .some objects are in the stores as we dont have enough display space but rotate the displays around and when more display space is built then it goes on display .My museum is working towards accreditation and has to keep imaculate records otherwise we will not be accredited

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Donating or loaning medals(or for that matter badges also) has always, & likely always will be, a point of contention among collectors.

Museums are a very controversial topic.

You are either supportive of one or another or completely not in favour it.

 

Thanks,

Bryan

 

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Working for a museum you could say im in favour of them but what I am not in favour of is bad practice by some and very bad attitude by some of the very large ones.I have had a couple of bad runnins with a couple of large ones who thought they knew all and were very condicending to me,As for selling objects off im not in favour of it

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Kevin Tobin

The medals were donated to the SOFO museum as part of a will. The museum even got solicitors involved to stop relatives of the deceased selling bits off and not complying with the wishes that all go to SOFO.

 

This is the second batch of 100 from the same acquisition.

 

It has been queried with the relevant authorities but sadly lack of funds overrides any decency to treasure the medals donated.  

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stiletto_33853

Can I respectfully suggest that before everyone gets on their high horse regarding this matter, did anyone even bother to read the written material on the collection up for sale??? or just jump on the indignation side of the matter??

 

 "the vast majority of these medals were purchased on the open market"

 

If this is the case, that these groups had been purchased on the open market, then one would imagine it is the museums choice as to their sale??

 

Andy

Screenshot 2021-03-31 at 17.38.10.png

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Yes, I did read the preamble, & I agree - Museums have the right to sell what they have purchased.

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Kevin Tobin
51 minutes ago, stiletto_33853 said:

Can I respectfully suggest that before everyone gets on their high horse regarding this matter, did anyone even bother to read the written material on the collection up for sale??? or just jump on the indignation side of the matter??

 

 "the vast majority of these medals were purchased on the open market"

 

If this is the case, that these groups had been purchased on the open market, then one would imagine it is the museums choice as to their sale??

 

Andy

Screenshot 2021-03-31 at 17.38.10.png

I am afraid to say I have proof that this is incorrect. I actually collected the medals from the family and catalogued them. All the medals were donated and not bought!

I have not been a volunteer at the museum for some time. This sale was due to take place in February but was stopped, until the lots could be sold and not be in contravention of any rules.

Edited by Kevin Tobin
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stiletto_33853

Sorry to hear that Kevin, in that case it would seem that the museum has misled DNW. I can only go by DNW's account of the collection for sale without the knowledge you have.

 

Andy

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Kevin Tobin

It has been very controversial. The museum volunteers got the February sales stopped as they did not agree with it. But as I mentioned above the museum trustees have checked they can lawfully sell them. (Some issues as to whether they were actually ever taken on to the museum catalogue.)

 

It is all very disappointing but if they have no money to keep going then as someone said before I suppose everything will end up for sale.

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Moonraker
53 minutes ago, stiletto_33853 said:

Museum statement: "the vast majority of these medals were purchased on the open market".

 

29 minutes ago, Kevin Tobin said:

I am afraid to say I have proof that this is incorrect.. I actually collected the medals from the family and catalogued them.

Pedantically one might infer that the museum is conceding that a small minority of its medals for sale were donated to it. Which does raise the question about what criteria were used when it came to choosing which donated items should be sold.

 

IIRC some years ago we had a thread or threads mournfully recording the closures and amalgamations of military museums, dependence on volunteers and limited ability to respond to researchers' queries.

 

Who can deny that the situation must have worsened considerably in the last year?

 

What would happen to all the medals, other artefacts and printed material were the SOFO be forced to close or amalgamate?

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adrian 1008

Tomorrow is the 103 rd Anniversary of one of the heaviest losses the Queens Own Oxford Hussars suffered in WW1 (Rifle Wood)

 

I appreciate times are difficult, but to sell medals won my the men and women of Oxfordshire is a poor reflection on those who run this museum. 

 

Surplus to requirements suggests a very poor finance strategy, or a cynical eye towards profit.

 

This is the second sale, are there more to come ? I wonder if the people of Oxford, and surrounding counties are aware of sale of their history ?

 

My Great Uncle died at Rifle Wood, and a member of the family has done a great deal to recognise the sacrifice of the soldiers of Oxford

 

To see these medals for sale  from the museum is very disappointing

 

 

 

 

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Moonraker
9 hours ago, adrian 1008 said:

 ... Surplus to requirements suggests a very poor finance strategy, or a cynical eye towards profit...

 

To see these medals for sale  from the museum is very disappointing

Most would agree with your latter statement, but as to your first ...

 

The finance strategies  of the vast majority of the world's organisations have been affected by Covid. TBH I can't recall if and for how long SOFO was allowed to open in the last year and I'm guessing that it won't be allowed to re-open until May - for how long?

 

Many people anticipate further restrictions on activities this coming winter and even if there aren't, some potential visitors may elect to be cautious and stay away.

 

SOFU statement:

 

"In the current climate of Covid-19, Museums and Galleries have seen a reduction in footfall and donations, and are having to find alternative ways to generate income. Here at The Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock, in the shadow of Blenheim Palace, we are having to make tough decisions to enable the museum to remain open.

Fortunately for our museum we have a number of medals, that are surplus to our core collection, and it is these that we have reluctantly decided to sell in order to help see us through these difficult times. The vast majority of these medals were purchased on the open market, and now a new generation of collectors will have the opportunity to acquire these for their collections and become their new custodians.

The money we generate will be used to support the Museum as it cares for the collections and provide resources for new exhibitions, as well as providing funds for curatorial expenses and conservation needs. As an independent museum, we rely on generating our own income and the next five years are critical for us to find our way in a post Covid-19 world."

 

Rather than the Museum's action suggesting "a cynical eye towards profit" it is more a pragmatic way towards survival.

 

How else should/could it raise money to fund its existence?

 

 

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caulkheader

This is the reason why I always advise people to think VERY carefully before donating anything to a museum, and it stipulates in my will that everything is to be sold (unless a family connection) so that my family members and not a ‘suit’ benefits.

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Moonraker

I'm breaking off from putting my latest postcard acquisitions in albums (which includes researching and writing up some of them) to reflect that were my collection to end up in a museum it might prove useful and give pleasure to a handful (if that) of people each year. - and they would be unlikely to want to plough through 15 albums. Whereas were it to be sold it would provide satisfaction (albeit of a commercial nature) to auctioneers and dealers and to a larger number of collectors. Though, inevitably, it includes a lot of common stuff, there are some very desirable and unique items in it.

 

(I acknowledge that different sentiments might apply to gallantry medals won by grandad or great grandad, perhaps at the expense of his life.)

 

Further reflection as a postscript: not that I'll be around to worry (unless I sell off the collection before my demise), but I would be a bit miffed if dealers selling  my cards individually discarded my write-ups based on years of research and experience. (Some GWF members will be aware that some/many of my queries relate to "a card that I've just acquired".)

Edited by Moonraker
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   The Museums Association guidelines on disposals make interesting reading- especially the first part regarding justification. The link is here:

 

https://ma-production.ams3.digitaloceanspaces.com/app/uploads/2020/06/18145447/31032014-disposal-toolkit-8.pdf

 

A few random points:

 

1)  Museums attract clutter as well as treasure. But with Oxford, there seems to have been a sea change of what to do.  To say "the vast majority" were acquired on the open market suggests that at some point-over quite a long period- it was deliberate policy to acquire by purchase.  It would be good if the Trustees of Oxford actually spelled out what their acquisition parameters were from now on.

 

2)  The notion that the "vast majority" were bought in the open market is not quite as cuddly as it seems. Many institutions have donors who provide money for specific purchases. Often, a donation by an individual or,particularly, corporate  donor looks like a straight donation but is actually the institution soliciting funds from a donor of goodwill for a particular purchase. The institution gets the item, the donor (in the circumstance of being mostly corporate) gets the kudos-but often they have only been asked to sign a cheque. Thus, there is some residual doubt that even items bought in the "open market" may be an abuse if money had been provided  for a particular purchase by a well-intentioned sponsor..

 

3)  An obvious point with Oxford- if it aint financially viable, COVID or not, then that's that.  As Harold Macmillan famously said, what do you when you have flogged off the family silver?   The whole question of the plethora "regimental" museums turning up their toes is one that has to be addressed on a national basis.  Given the large amalgamations and disbandments of the Cardwell-Haldane system of regiments from the late 1950s, then the territorial connection has diminished. Most of the regiments listed for the Great War have few if any men who served in them at any time who are still living. A source of pride to a living veteran has a different perspective to those who come after.  COVID suggests we are in for a large round of cuts in anything remotely public sector. Oxford will not be the only problem. It is just another example of a long-term problem that affects pretty much ALL of the regimental museums.  Just where are they going?  The last time I asked about Essex, I was told all the stuff was in boxes in council offices and unusable for "foreseeable future". As for Middlesex and Royal Fusiliers, well, just a blank.

 

4) I have one friend who collects medals- mostly of a particular battalion of a particular regiment. He tells me that Oxford is somewhat daft in its actions-  a large quantity of medals to one unit at auction tends to mean that "top dollar" is not achieved ( He knowingly utters the word "Guernsey" when explaining this).

 

5)  A longer term consideration is whether the losses outweigh the gains.  Selling stuff off-short-term gain- BUT it tends to spook future donors.

 

6)  A look at Soldiers of Oxfordshire on the Charity Commission is revealing. The reference to COVID is slightly misleading- it has acted as the catalyst but the problem was there well before Boris ordered  shutdowns a year back.   Soldiers of Oxfordshire was/is in long-term trouble.   This from the Charity Commission site:

 

 

image.png.98da4623d7408f8b3943450438c6843e.png

 

    The blue line is gross revenues, the green line is gross expenditure.  The end date is 31/03/2020- thus, COVID is only very,very marginal at the end. The Dickensian maxim of Mr Micawber...."Annual Income.........." must apply.  The sale of medals cuts both ways- one can clearly see that it may be inevitable in current COVID circumstances. But it also shows that in the longer term the museum is not viable in it's current form no matter what gets sold off.

 

(For clarification, the brighter blue line at the bottom is money received from government contracts)

Edited by Guest
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Moonraker

Very good post, Voltaire, though I wonder how much the decline in fortunes reflects there having been a peak of interest and visits in 2014 and 2015 because of the stimulation from the WWI centenary?

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adrian 1008

As previously stated to flood the market will not realise the best price, not to mention the buyers premium payable to the auction house.

 

Being registered with most of the large auction houses, I don't recall seeing any other military museum selling collections of medals as surplus to requirements.

 

Over the years I and others have acted as an unofficial"scout" for this museum letting them know when Oxford related medals came onto the market, believing I was helping on gathering memorabilia preserving and centralising this part of history.

 

This is clearly not the case, perhaps if the museum had a more targeted purchase policy they wouldn't  be in quite such a state. Voltaire makes a very good point,  the future doesn't look good.

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