This large collection of books naturally contains many medal collecting stalwarts, ranging from Alec Purves’ Collecting Medals and Decorations, via Gordon’s British Battles and Medals and various well-known medal Rolls, right through to O’Byrne’s A Naval Biographical Dictionary, Long’s Medals of the British Navy and even Marshall’s Royal Navy Biography. There are also quite a lot of books about Nelson, his officers and their battles.
However, what perhaps comes through most strongly is the seriousness with which John was determined to find out all he could about the history of medal collecting and, particularly, the collecting of the Naval General Service medal. Thus the collection contains not only numerous historic and modern auction catalogues, journals and bulletins but various books detailing historic published collections as well as Manville and Robertson’s British Numismatic Auction Catalogues 1710-1984. There are even first and second editions of Gordon whose 3rd edition of 1962 was, for many years, despite errors within it, the first and last word on which regiments, ships and in rarer cases, individuals took part in battles for which a medal or bar was awarded.
There are really only a couple of omissions which have not found their way into the sale – his annotated version of Captain Douglas-Morris’s Naval General Service Medal Roll, which has been placed in DNW’s library, along with his copy of Spinks version of the Hailes Roll; and his 3rd edition of Gordon, which he has retained because it was his father’s favourite book. The Notes on Collecting Medals at the end of that edition still merit re-reading even after 50 years.