FIELDS OF INTEREST AND THEMES: DEFINITIONS AND UNDERSTANDING

 Questions are arising amongst our members as to what exactly is meant / required in terms of the new FCA Regulations regarding definition of “Field of Interest” and “Theme” in Regulation 5(1)(a)

 This guideline therefore attempts to illustrate how our Collecting Interest / Collections can be described in terms of ‘Theme’, or ‘Field of Interest’, or both.

 In a general sense we can examine the word “Field”  in terms of  maybe two applicable meanings .

  • A “field” is a piece of ground, within a larger area, which is defined by visible Boundaries
  • A “field” can also be a subject of a particular person’s or group’s area of expertise  ( e.g. “his field is medicine, or electronics” etc )

In this regard, the expression “Field of Interest” used in the Firearms collecting sense could possibly be rephrased as:

 “a defined or bounded area of firearms collecting in which the particular collector has a specific interest,  and of which the particular collector has significant knowledge “

 It should be noted, using the above analogy , that fields can be small or large ( but not limitless), and areas of expertise can be wide and moderate, or narrow and deep (and in rare cases , wide and deep) .

 “Theme” on the other hand has its origin in music, and can be considered as the “common thread” that links a number of events, or things, together.

 So within our “Field of interest ” , are there certain groups , or sub groups of firearms which have a common thread, or common factor , which is of particular relevance ?

 We encounter a large number of “Fields of Interest” containing a number of “themes” and “sub-themes”, within the collecting fraternity, so it would probably be impossible to list them all , but a typical example may help to illustrate the definitions discussed : 

 Example of a “Field of Interest”:

  •  “Small Arms of the Second South African War ( Second Anglo Boer War) 1899 – 1902”

 

Examples of possible “themes” within the above Field of Interest:

  •  History of the Magazine Lee Metford, Magazine Lee Enfield, and “Cavalry Carbine” , used by British forces in SA from 1894 to 1903  ( Historical )
  • Revolvers and Pistols used by British and South African Generals during the conflict, including Webley, Mauser Broomhandle, and Borchardt. (Historical)
  • Personal sidearms of Boer generals , for example  General Piet Joubert , and what has become of them( Heritage)
  • Development and use of lever action rifles before and during the conflict , including Martini Henry, Guedes, and Winchester ’73 and ’76 ( Historical and Technological )
  • Examples of Boer Mauser carvings on rifle and carbine stocks ( Heritage and Artistic)
  • Choice of firearms and tactics which enabled a small Boer force to successfully engage a numerically superior British and Commonwealth force for 3 years ( Educational)
  • Influence of Boer Mauser on British rifle design in the 1903 – 1913 period as manifested in the SMLE and P 13 – 17 series of rifles. (Historical , technological, educational)
  • etc, etc, etc 

Just to make things a bit more interesting (hopefully not confusing!), is that a “theme” in one person’s collection may be another person’s “Field of Interest”.

 

Elaborating using the above example , a collector may have as his “Field of Interest” the Lee-Metfords and Lee-Enfields of the Boer War era , and his “themes” may be different makes (Enfield, BSA, LSA etc), different Authorities (British Government, Cape Government, etc, different Regiments , and so on .

 It is also possible that a Collector with a single very well defined interest may sit with the situation that his/her ‘Field of Interest ‘ and ‘Theme’ is one and the same thing e.g. ‘ All models of Colt large calibre semi automatic pistols from 1903 to the present day’.  

  So what we have to do, if we haven’t already, is to sit back and reflect on what it is within the huge universe of firearm types and models that interests us and why, and how can we succinctly describe that? (Our “field of interest”)

 The Regulations help us somewhat in this respect in that some attributes of collectability value are listed e.g. 

  •  History  (the study of  past events or artefacts , normally considered together, especially of a particular period, country or subject ),  
  •  Heritage ( used in this sense as defined in the National Heritage Resources Act – i.e. a piece of a certain Group or Nation’s ‘National Estate’ such as the personal firearm of a well-known historical figure ) (note that ‘Heritage’ should most times not be confused with ‘inheritance’ (family heirlooms) which is dealt with separately in the FCA) 
  •  Technology and Science (significant design and development milestones or action types),  
  •  Culture ( e.g. the role that the firearm has played in society in certain groups or nations – ” Die Boer en sy Roer” is an interesting example),  
  •  Educational  (e.g. the impact of different types of firearms on military tactics over the last 200 years) 
  •  Artistic (engraving and inletting, trench art) etc.
  • Other – as developed by members and approved by the Associations from time to time

 

Once we have an understanding of what it is that interests us, and have described it, are there groups or sub-groups with common factors or “golden threads” that we would like to further articulate?

 And lastly if we are asked “Why do you collect firearms?” are we in a position to answer the question?

 The fundamental reason is probably not very different from Collectors of other valuable artefacts, be they Classic Cars, Antique furniture, Clocks, Tools, or Ceramics for example.

 Maybe something along the lines of 

 “I am here to devote some of my personal time and resources to the preservation of a part of our Heritage, both past, present, and future, which interests me and which I feel is important, and to derive personal satisfaction and have fun while doing it “

  

Prepared and approved by NAACCSA ExCo