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Hello Gentlemen,

I recently acquired a quartet of mounted miniatures consisting of the George Cross, British War Medal, Victory Medal, and Defence Medal. The latter three definitely show signs of wear and toning consistent with their age. The GC has some signs of wear, but is brighter than the other three and has a mirror-like quality. Do you think it's likely that the GC is a modern reproduction added to a genuine set of older miniatures? And generally speaking, are there ways to distinguish modern from older miniatures?

After a few years away from collecting British campaign medals, I'm getting back into the hobby, this time with a focus on miniatures rather than full-size medals. I've been looking for info on how to distinguish reproduction miniatures from the real deal, but haven't found much, so any comments would be greatly welcome.

The second photo (of the group's reverse) captures the mirror-like quality better than the first photo.

Thanks for your help!

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Welcome to the GMC, Pasha.

Once, in the far off days of 'Before Children', I had a small medal collection.  [I lived in Toronto then, too]. 

So, my expertise, such as it ever was,  may be dated but  don't think the GC is a later addition.  The amonunt of minor scratching on the back suggests that it has been worn with the other three.  Other visible differences may be due to the purity of the silver used in the GC and BWM minatures. The GC may be a later replcement for one lost - I'm assumng it was a WWI or between the Wars award - or a privately purchased 'tailor's copy' as opposed to an official issue minature from the British Mint and MOD.  But t doesn't look lke a really modern add on and this would be an odd group to make up, I would think.  Also, sadly, a tough one to research, though the GC certainly isn't common. 

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Posted (edited)

When keeping in mind that the George Cross honour was created in 1940, it makes perfect sense for it (and the Defence Medal) to be shinier then the First World War pair. The WW1 miniature pair is not only 20 years older but may have been worn more frequently by the young veteran who may have had a more active social life then when he was older. We can only guess how long the recipient lived after receiving the GC and Defence Medal which may also explain the lack of wear. 

Edited by SemperParatus

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Thanks for calrifying that, Semper.  My 'GC is not later' comment is pretty vague now that I look at it.  I meant 'not modern/contemporary' as opposed to not later than the first medals.  

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As a miniature collector I can only say that such groups is a minefield. You don't have to have much experience before you realize that a large number of British collectors take pride in creating groups from loose miniatures in the late evening hours. In many cases it's impossible to separate a made up group from an original group, but you could have a look at the ribbons, how they are faded, how the individual miniatures are toned etc. I cannot say weather this is a original group and the suggested explanation of the GC having been awarded 20 years later is valid or if this is made up group created to be "representative" of someone or .... You can easily find a large number of similar groups on eBay, but you can never know which ones are good or not.

You do have to note that many British collectors have a completely different view on such things than many others. Some years ago a very nice WW1 VC miniature group was sold on auction. It was a nice framed set of a Pilot, in the (old) frame there were a picture of the man, a flying wing, a regimental badge and a miniature group consisting of a VC and a WW1 trio. The group fetched a VERY high price.

After the auction I asked some British collectors of how this could happen, my take was that the Pilot was killed in a crash in 1916 and was awarded the VC posthumous and I couldn't simply understand how this pilot could have worn a miniature group consisting of a posthumous award and a trio that were introduced several years after his death.

We never reached any form of agreement, but I understood that if a family member had assembled this group up to 30 years later in memory of the deceased pilot this could without problems be seen as said pilots personal miniature group, and this would demand a high price.

I believe my point is that you can show a picture here, but apart from the obvious mistakes I think it's impossible for most to judge, we can only say "I believe", so if you're in doubt, leave it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It is possible that the group was made up post 1971 when the Edward medal was exchangable for the George medal as was the Albert medal. The recipient could have been in his 70's and an interwar Edward Medal recipient such as the Bentley colliery disaster. Could have had the set made up for a Buckingham palace garden party or a VC/GC association beano.

all the best,

Paul

 

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Gentlemen -- Many thanks for your helpful and enlightening comments. I suppose I'll just have to treat the verdict on the medal group's authenticity as "not proven." My main concern was that somewhere along the way the GC had been added by a seller to bump up the price (perhaps by swapping out a 1914-15 Star). I should note that I purchased the group from a reputable and trustworthy seller; any concerns I might have about a seller messing with the group refer to the period before it came into my seller's hands.

Lars's remarks about British collectors creating groups from loose miniatures in the wee hours made me chuckle. It never occurred to me that collectors themselves might engage in such shenanigans.

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The problem I see with miniature groups is that you may be able to show that the group is 'made-up' but it is almost impossible to 'prove' that the miniature group was ever worn by the recipient, even when the miniature group accompanies a full-sized group.  I have seen a number of examples of full-sized groups sold without miniatures which later reappear with miniature groups, some even 'named.'

Gunner 1

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