Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum Medals Sold.

Discussion in 'WW2 Militaria' started by von Poop, Mar 31, 2021.

  1. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

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  2. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

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  3. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles



    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. We need to ensure that we can still provide content and experiences that are relevant for all generations to enjoy; whether through digital methods or by curating new and exciting exhibitions that entice people back into our galleries.

    Medals from the Collection of the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum - Foreword | Dix Noonan Webb

    I don't care for their justification.

    They should be allowed only to sell or donate their collections to other publicly accessible institutions. If I had something worthy of donating, I'd have a lawyer draw up a watertight contract that they could accept or refuse. Alas, most of the objects they are nominally caring for will have been donated in an era when the bottom line was not the top consideration.

    Close the museum down, turn of the lights and re-open when this global mess is over; everybody's going through this at the moment. You do not get special dispensation to behave like barbarians because there's a pandemic on.

    I'm sure that museum 'trustees' carry out lots of unrecognised and unrewarded work behind the scenes, but when I read that title in an article, it's 90% certain to be with a description of them acting in a despicable fashion.

    Edit: 'the vast majority'. How many and which ones?
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2021
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  4. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    According to the Auctioneers blurb, most (I'll come back to that in a minute) of the medals were bought on the open market. That means they were 'Surplus to family requirements' as they had presumably decided to sell them anyway. If that is the case, I see no great problem in disposing them back onto the open market so they can be enjoyed by other Museums or collectors. What goes around comes around.

    Note: 'most' by definition does not mean 'all'. Provided they kept to any agreement struck with the owners of the remainder of the medals and/or used their best endeavours to contact the donors to clear any grey areas, then I also see no great problem.

    This is certainly a situation of extremes from 'dispose nothing' (do we all really want to live in a museum or rather visit them) to 'dispose everything' (in which case there is, eventually, no history or record). The 'truth' or 'balance' or whatever you want to call it, is, of course, somewhere in between.
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  5. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I'm slightly in two minds about this. Sorry to see museums selling and troubled if it concerns cherished donated items. I can imagine though that during the post-war years they frequently received donations from ex-officers and men that they could use to buy gallantry groups.

    I do wonder though how long the sort of detailed obsessives' military museums will have a place. I recall wandering round county regimental museums with father and grandfather reading every caption from top to's the stories that are interesting as the medals themselves are indistinguishable once in a display case but in those days, there were still thousands alive who had served.

    As these county regiments and to some extent also their successors fade in to history, will there still be an interest ?

    I hope the museum has documented their disposals and the stories behind the medals well.
  6. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    I read that, SDP, but I'm still very suspicious.

    If I were employed to spin this, I'd ensure that a lot of relatively common and low-financial-value medals were flogged (the vast majority) so that a few extremely valuable donated ones could be sold for high prices.

    The other thing--and I'm not arguing against you here, just pointing out--is that most of the objects donated to my local museum (for example) were donated a century ago or more. There likely was no formal agreement with the owners to violate, just a reliance on a shared sense of ethics.
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  7. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    I, of course, can only agree with your very logical and reasonable construct - let's hope the Museum is not being disingenuous (?.....ummmm?).
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  8. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    A search at Companies House brings up notice from the SOFO museum of recent conversion from a charitable company limited by guarantee to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, but the Charity Commission website is down at the moment. Fairly standard stuff these days.

    There is a long explanation concerning lack of funds in the accounts for 2018 to 2019 which is worth a look. Not enough visitors, leaking roof, etc., but details of then recent exhibitions.

    As VP says, think very hard before giving anything to a museum.

    Policy on disposals can be found for the IWM and the Arts Council at links below but clarity is not to the forefront.

    Frequently-asked questions – Collections Trust
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