Jump to content
News Ticker
  • I am now accepting the following payment methods: Card Payments, Apple Pay, Google Pay and PayPal
  • Latest News

    BOOK REVIEW: Spencer, Medals

    Recommended Posts

    William Spencer, Medals: The Researcher's Guide ([Kew;} The National Archives, [2006]; 224 pp.; ISBN 7-903365-63-5; ?19.99)

    When ordering books, sight unseen, one is so often surprised. And usually not surprised positively. Catalogue descriptions often leave some details missing and I have often been disappointed when upwrapping the latest library addition. When I ordered this, I expected one of those old familiar PRO (now "National Archives" soft-cover pamphets such as "Army Service Records of the First World War" (by Fowler et al.).

    Boy, was I ever surprised when Spencer's book arrived!

    Spencer, a medal collector himself and military history specialist at the PRO for his entire career, has produced a book that is both phyically impressive (hardbound, coated paper, well illustrated in black and white and colour, filled with both examples of documents and eye-candy of medals) and immensely valuable. He surveys every award, avery era, and provides concrete real-world information on what records exist at the NA, with examples supported by case studies. We learn what records exist, how to get them, and how to use and read them; for example, the arcane mysteries of deciphering a WWII MIC card are explained in articulate and useful detail. While most of his focus is on awards of specifically "British" interest, there is more than enough here to satisfy collectors within the wider sphere of "the Empire". If, now, we had a companion volume for the India Office Records (presently incarcerated at the British Library), our research guides for UK-based research work would be complete.

    Even if you have never worked and never plan to work personally at the NA, this is a must-have book. Knowing "what can be known" allows you to plan what is feasible. I would certainly not explore the computerised catagogue to the NA (which also allows online ordering of xeroxes or PDF files) without several hours spent in this book. Any first-timer at the NA would be, to put it bluntly, a fool not to consult this book before their arrival. And, speaking personally, I have worked there on a number of happy occasions and so wish that this book had been available before my first trip; even as a NA veteran of sorts, I am sure my next trip will be immensely simplified because of Spencer's work.

    Simply put: A must-have book!!

    Edited by Ed_Haynes
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Create an account or sign in to comment

    You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

    Create an account

    Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

    Register a new account

    Sign in

    Already have an account? Sign in here.

    Sign In Now
    • Create New...

    Important Information

    We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.