The background to collecting military medals is inseparable from a study of history. The earliest British medals, as befits a nation for so long reliant upon naval strength for its independence, were issued to the Navy, beginning with the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. The first true campaign medals awarded to the Army followed the Battle of Waterloo, although many had been issued privately and unofficially before this. As one would expect for a country like Britain, with an outstanding imperial history dating to modern times, a vast field of military medals covering service in Africa, India, and China awaits the attention of the collector. There are, too, the collections relating to major wars, including the Crimean War, Boer War and the two World Wars. Colin Narbeth describes the medals awarded, and the actions which gave rise to special bars, ribbons and stars. Orders and decorations, including the Victoria Cross and the George Cross, both awarded for extreme valor, are described as are the naming of medals and display.
As well as this wealth of background information, the author also details the aims to which a new collector should aspire, and discusses the pitfalls to guard against, including the problem of identification of forgeries. The volume is illustrated with numerous photographs selected by the author.