View Full Version : Stranger owns my family's medals!

09-04-09, 18:34
I would appreciate your thoughts on this. A few minutes ago I received an email via Ancestry asking for information on my Great Aunt (who I knew as a child and into my 30's). He stated that he had her medals from WW1 and was "researching" her. As it happens, I have quite a lot of very interesting information on her as well as pictures etc. and another family member has a scrap book of her time as a VAD with lots of photos etc.
Although I keep my tree private on Ancestry, he could actually access some of the photos if he knew how! Maybe the stories and accounts - I'm not sure!

I would really like to have those medals - I suspect they were sold in error when she died. If I give him information, would it make them more valuable?

How much are those sorts of things worth anyway?

I don't want to put the price up if I have the chance to buy them!

I googled him and he seems to be a collector for 30 years and his main interest is in medical/RAMC medals. Whatever that is!

It is such a shock - I'm quite upset, though I am sure he has every right to them! I emailed to say that I have lots of information, but was wondering how he has them and are we related. (I'm sure we are not!)

Thanks for reading this


Vicky the Viking
09-04-09, 19:08
my thoughts on this - if he's a medal collector he might be prepared to sell.
You can get an idea of the current prices for medals sold without history by looking on Ebay & other places. Having a full history does tend to put up prices so I'd be wary of giving him any info "for free" until you know whether he's genuine.

If he's related he should be able to prove it, but I'd be wary of anyone who just says "yes my parents were x & y & I'm descended from their son z" as you know its easy enough to find out this sort of thing if you know your way around.

Perhaps I'm a cynic but basically I don't trust anyone if there's money involved :)

09-04-09, 19:11
I would take a breath and see what others think on here.... if you really want the medals you could ask if he would consider allowing the family to buy them. He is a dealer/collecter he may just do that.
Seems he is genuine (?) and has a real interest in the history... as a collector would.
Difficult for you... I would hold back on any info for now. Google the medals and you may get an idea of value.
I had a similar thing happen to me... I bought a lovely hand written diary written by a boy aged 16 in 1918 at a car boot sale for a £1. It was facinating.
I traced the family via GR and I returned it to them as my view was I may have owned it... but it belonged to them. I got a lovely letter and that was good enough for me. I did get a transcription done of the diary before I let it go.
I would see what others say... for me, I would ask him nicely if he would consider selling them back... that may be his aim anyway.

09-04-09, 19:14
I agree with John. I'd ask him if he would be willing to sell them to you. He might have acquired them fairly recently so you could Google to see if the sale comes up to get an idea of price. I wouldn't give him any extra information - this will put the price up.

09-04-09, 19:26
Thinking about it, if I was a dealer I know who would be most likely to pay over the book price to get them. I guess I would be willing to pay way over the face value to get them back. I would not show a great deal of interest at first... maybe just say you don't know very much about her. Then maybe throw in you may be interested if ever he wanted to sell them on.
But as Vicky says, be wary... I could easily pick up a medal in a shop and the details etched on the edge give enough details to trace relatives with a tree online.

Somerset Sal
09-04-09, 19:44
I don't think the medals will be very valuable; many thousands of them were issued. The only way they'd be very valuable would be if there's a medal for valour or courage amongst them.

I'm custodian of the medals of a man who, if he'd survived WW1 would have been my great-uncle but only by marriage. So far I've been unable to find any living blood relatives of his, but if I did I'd be happy to hand the medals over.


09-04-09, 20:04
Don't know which medals she had - but some on here are quite pricey

Britannia Military Antiques (http://www.britmedals.co.uk/?gclid=CLrNy6i-5JkCFUqS3wodL0fzRw)

at the bottom here is an idea of how much metals might fetch


more info

09-04-09, 20:25
To my mind, if this man has any sort of decency about him then he will let you have the medals for perhaps the price that he himself paid for them if he needs to charge anything at all.

These things are priceless to family of the medal-earners, and as such should be returned to them whenever possible. I would strongly urge you to stress the sentimental value, and play down any monetary value, because if he is a true researcher then he will understand and hopefully you can come to an arrangement to suit both of you.

I wish you all the very best of luck with this, because I think that it such an important issue.

09-04-09, 20:34

I doubt if the monetary value will be much at this point in time, but to you as a family member they are priceless. This is very tricky for you as if you show too much eagerness when you write back you may find him not wanting to sell but if you show no interest you risk losing them anyway. He is a collector so presume he is interested in selling, not just collecting.

In a way I would turn it on its head and look on it that you hold the cards as you have the history. I would not give him the history at all as that would put the value up and he is more likely to keep them once he has the history. You could say something like well yes you have the history but you would like to purchase the medals so as to put the two together and maybe see what happens. If he refuses to sell well there is not much you can do but I would not let him have the history as well and he will be aware that the two do go hand in hand and that you have the upper hand.

Good luck with a very difficult decision. I have been trying to find my Grt Grandfather's Crimean War and Indian Mutiny Medals without success, but if I found those I would have to pay a lot for them. I just hope they are still with family somewhere.


Lynn The Forest Fan
09-04-09, 20:44
I would certainly ask if he would be prepared to sell them to you, what have you got to lose?
I have the name of the person who has my gg grandfather's Crimean medals & would love to have just a photo of them. Sadly he is in Canada & although I sent a letter to a possible address I found for him, I never heard anything back.
Good luck

Olde Crone Holden
09-04-09, 21:11
OK, I speak from the other side of the fence as it were - I am a dealer too, (but not in medals).

The medal dealers I know very well are obsessive about discovering the origins of the medals and go to great lengths to research to find any living descendants.

This is not so they can rip some gullible person off by charging megabucks for the medals, it is because they CARE passionately about their subject.

The medals themselves are likely to be utterly valueless if they are "just" service medals. My Dealer friend has suitcases FULL of service medals - the family didn't want them and chucked them out or pawned them.

Yes, a medal with a provenance is worth more than one without any history, but it's the difference between £1 and £5, because BUYERS and COLLECTORS are only interested in famous people, unlike the Dealer who has a passionate interest in all of them, great or small.

Give the man a chance and ask him if the medals are for sale. Be prepared to give him something for his trouble - a Dealer cannot be expected to return medals free of charge to every family which once chucked them out or pawned them. He has worked to find you and you can always say you don't want to buy the medals if you feel the price is too high!


09-04-09, 22:06
I would quite happily buy my great grandfather's WW1 medals if I knew who had them.

09-04-09, 22:07
At least with WW1 you get the name of the receipient on them (I think) but WW2 you don't.

Olde Crone Holden
09-04-09, 22:10
Just a thought Trina, but if you want to pm me this chap's name, I'll ask around my trade contacts and see if anyone knows of him.


10-04-09, 01:39
This site is from a guy who cares and helps out with family history and may well know the dealer so take a look at his site Kevin Asplin well known in military medal circles.
The Asplin Military History Resources (http://www.britishmedals.us/kevin/intro.html)


10-04-09, 10:18
Thank you for all the help and omments - sorry I couldn't get back online until now. What everyone says pretty well chimes with how I feel. I didn't realise that the interest he is showing could be just about his passion for collecting though, but it makes sense as I don't think that they are particularly valuable to anyone else. I am more than happy to pay market value - just don't want someone trying to "rip me off!". I found a similar pair being offered for £40 on one site.

OCH that is very kind of you and I will do that. It would be helpful to know how he is likely to react. (just have to work out how to PM now...........)

colin taylor
10-04-09, 10:56
It is not possible at the moment to know what is in the persons mind, he may be a genuine collecter who is keen to find out the history of the person to whom the medals were awrded but hoping also that he doesn't arouse too much interest if he wishes not to sell.
Whatever his motives are this would appear to be the only opportunity you have to regain them as they could be sold on and lost forever

Olde Crone Holden
10-04-09, 11:40
Trina has pm-d me with the details and the man is not a dealer, he is a collector.

He is unlikely to want to sell the medals I think, so it is really up to Trina what she chooses to tell him about this lady.

Trina could ask for first refusal if he ever DOES decide to sell the medals, in exchange for a bit of info given now!


10-04-09, 12:07
I know of a collector of WW1 Medals for his own surname and he would gladly sell the Medals back to the family probably for market value and information about the person concerned so you never know.

10-04-09, 12:21
Had you realised that this thread already appears on google? You might want to have it moved ... :)

10-04-09, 12:35
Hi, I've been looking now for several years for a "lost" WW1 medal. On ebay they seem much more valuable with "paperwork" and some have gone for silly prices when some just go for pounds. I'd ask whether the collector would be willing to sell and as old Crones says ask if he would give first refusal if he sells. Any information you want to give will make them have more "value".

10-04-09, 16:16
Thanks for that OC. I will ask about first refusal and be candid about my reluctance to provide information which may result in my not being able to buy them back!
I used to stay with her as a child and she lived to over a 100. I suspect they were sold by mistake when she had an auction before going into a Care Home. Or possibly given to an unprincipled vicar that used to gratefully "accept" presents whenever he visited!!

10-04-09, 16:18
How does one prevent this appearing on Google Caroline? I don't suppose it really matters though ???

Elaine ..Spain
10-04-09, 16:23
Unfortunately having posted something on the open area of the site, which includes the Research Qs & As forum, then it will have already been picked up by the google spiders and may show up in a google search.

If there is anything of a really sensitive nature then we can move threads to the Adoption/Reunion Forum or the General Discussion forum in the Community boards which does not get picked up by the spiders.