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Naming of British medals

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It depends on the medal and the naming that is on it. It may be a later issue; a replacement medal; or a renamed medal. Anyone collecting Victorian medals really needs to own a copy of British Battles and Medals, 7th Edition which has photos of all the proper namings on British campaign medals. Gunner 1

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Yes, the new BB&M is a good starting point, but bear in mind that there are many more variations than shown there, especially for Indian awards. There are many post-"Mutiny" replacements for pre-1857 medals, for example, that some dismiss as fakes and the naming on the Afghan Medal (2nd Afghhan War) is almnost insanely diverse (the major pre-1914 recourse to non-standard naming).

If your interest is in medals to natives of the UK, BB&M is a pretty reliable guide, though.

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If your interest is in medals to natives of the UK,

I think you mean the founders of the "British Empire" Ed :rolleyes:

But yes Erich, British Battles and Medals, 7th Edition is a very good starting point for checking out the types on naming on medals. As Ed does rightly say though, there are many privately engraved medals out there.


Edited by Mike Huxley
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Ed Haynes has already alluded to some of the 'field expedients' practiced by the Indian Mint or the recipients of thier work. In the balmy days of my youth I owned at various times:

medals with mis-spelled names -how hard is "Singh" to get right?

medals with unevenly spaced letters - quite common or ranks and names at different 'heights' on the rim - suggesting the rank was an add-on or correction

medals with loose bars added to ribbons but vouched for by records and original owners(another whole subject)

and so on.

I also owned for many years a re-named Indian Mutiny medal to a Colonel of the 5th Bengal Cavalry. His unit was one which had NOT mutinied and actually served briefly (as camp police) on the British side at the siege of Delhi but were eventually disbanded by a suspicious / paranoid British commander. The colonel served on and went on to re-raise the unit in 1857, but his medal had clearly had the unit name changed - a visibly shaved rim. The theory I held to was that he had received one named to his original unit but since he felt they had disgraced themselves he had the unit removed and replaced, although at the distance of 30 years I cannot now remember what he replaced it with. Either a blank space or something innocuous like 'Staff" is my vague recollection.

My tuppence worth!


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No, actually, I DON'T. And you knew that. :rolleyes:

Yes, we probably all know it by now, & I do wish that you would stop it Ed.

I don't understand why you feel the need to snipe at people you don't know other than through this forum, simply because of their nationality.

At least in our society that type of behaviour is considered unacceptable.

Please don't bother to roll out the hoary old "It seems that I am not welcome here either", & please, do stop these petty insults to those of us who live in the UK.

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Can't say much about how things were done in the UK, but in India from the Second Sikh War until WWI all naming was done by a single sub-contractor in Calcutta. The distinctive running script is their hallmark (and even when the government sought alternate suppliers -- cheaper ones -- no one could match the quality -- and, alas, no one can do this quality of naming today -- a good friend tried to get his MacGregor Medal so named).

The political pressure to issue Second Afghan War Medals before the mud was even dry on the troops' feet led to a wide range of alternate naming patterns. I think there are some underlying regimental patterns, but cannot prove that. Only a very few medals were centrally named. (And there is an interesting back-story as to why this war wasn't just three clasps on the IGS.)

The naming machines that came into use during WWI were unpopular at the mint and led to massive error rates. Pity the poor sowar (cavalry private) whose rank was renedered as soowar (pig) on his Allied Victory Medal.

And, then, there are the IGS08s named in Urdu. Why? How? Fascinating.

Not to mention the massive application of individual craft and inventiveness that any good battalion blacksmith could improvise. (Well, Peter mentioned it :) .)

Despite efforts by BB&M and others, things aren't ever as simple and straightforward as they wish to make it sound. And, unfortunately, some dealers take it upon themselves to de-name (erase) what they see as naughty medals. I know of one lovely group that was destroyed by such practices.

Edited by Ed_Haynes
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