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American (US) Victory Medals

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Thabks Rob for your comment.


I took some pictures. The first picture shows above type 1 at the right. Left is an US VM type 2.



A closer look at the wire loop.



Detail of the obverse with the FRASER mark.


and as last picture of my type 1 and a type 2 together.





The last picture shows the type 1 at the right side. At the left side is a type 2.

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Hello Herman,

In Commission on Fine Arts, own vault is the type-2. This is the victory medal given to them four months before any were issued to any veterans.

From my book starting on page 74.


Was There an Official Type-I (Wire-Loop)?


As mentioned earlier, on November 14, 1919, the Commission of Fine Arts presented the final design of the Victory Medal by James Earle Fraser, to the Secretary of the War, Newton D. Baker.  The medal casting was made by Medallic Art Company. Three months later, on February 11, 1920, the first Victory Medal, a type-2 (knob) suspension was presented to President Woodrow Wilson four months before any other Victory Medals were issued. Why is this significant?


In March of 1919, in Paris, one of the outcomes of the Interallied Commission's meeting was the decision that the suspension for the Allied medals was to be based on previous French medal designs. The French contended, and won the point, that they had been engaged in yet another war with Germany. Therefore, the French requested that the new Victory Medal be

a link back to their Commemorative Medal of the 1870-1871 War, which was awarded for service in the Franco-Prussian War and which was not awarded until November 9, 1911. The knob suspension became the standard suspension on the U.S. Victory Medal based on this agreed suspension design by all the attending representatives of allied countries.


(Illustration 53: Lineage of the Victory Medal.) [1]


In the first edition of Laslo's book, he listed the wire-loop as the type-2 suspension without providing much information as to how he had reached this conclusion. Furthermore, he listed the type-2 (wire-loop) as a rare medal and many collectors were undoubtedly confused. They may have questioned his classification and asked, if this type of medal was the first one made and was rare, then why is it not listed as the official type-1?


However, in his second edition, I believe Laslo attempted to resolve any confusion by reclassifying the official type-2 (wire-loop) as the newly classified official type-1 (wire-loop). Yet again, he provides little information and no documentation for this fundamental shift in classification. All he provides is a brief footnote on page 87 that the change had taken place. On page 93, he goes on to say that, "it is typically found with unofficially assembled ribbon or just as a loose planchet. In addition, there is no mention of the variety in either War Department or U.S. Mint documentation or in the meeting minutes of the National Commission of Fine Arts." In fact, Laslo's elaboration regarding the origin of the wire-loop suspension leaves yet even more questions because he was unable to provide any factual documentation for its official status. Furthermore, in that next paragraph, he adds, "Of interest, the Victory Medal illustrated in Jos. Mayer's 1933 catalog is the 'wire-loop' variety." This catalog is just that, a catalog. It is not an official issuing agency. I find myself wanting more information as to how, and why, he concluded that the wire-loop was even a legitimate or authorized official issue medal especially given that the wire-loop Victory Medal was listed in the catalogs of all the major dealers of military items. Even today the public can get an unofficial wire-loop medal from present day vendors of military items.[2] In addition to this, the Government was keeping close control over the Victory Medal's production and distribution. I do not think it is realistic to believe the Government would have let any initial run or sample medals, which were paid for by tax dollars, to be given to or distributed by companies, even by those with which the Government had been doing business.


Vendors listed only the type-1 (wire-loop) in their catalog and that meant there had to be a large source from which they procured these medals, large enough in fact that dealers like George Studley were selling them well into the 1960's. Let me review several substantial facts which lead me to conclude that Medallic Art Company may have been responsible for the wire-loop suspension. First, once James Fraser had agreed to his final design, the Medallic Art Company was to make hubs and dies, and struck sample medals.  There was an understanding between Fraser and Medallic Art Company that all medals would be turned over to the government, along with the specifications of how the medals were to be produced from these hubs and dies. Then, after months of working with Fraser, the Medallic Art Company lost the contract to produce the medals. Second, the Weils were offended because they had said specifically that Art Metal Works Inc. was one of three contractors who they believed would not produce a quality finished product. Third, and this is a rather important point, the wire-loop medals that do exist are of a very high quality and, in contrast to the Art Medal Works, the Medallic Art Company was known for their high quality productions. Typically, Medallic Art Company medals are thicker, which might also help to explain the extra thickness of the wire-loop Victory Medals.


There exists an interesting web of relationships which serves as the backdrop to the origin of the wire-loop medals. On March 30, 1920, Major General Harry L. Rogers, Quartermaster General, designated Colonel C. F. Burkhardt to oversee the creation of the Victory Medal.  In addition to Colonel Burkhardt, experts in metallurgy were assigned by the Bureau of Standards to assist the appointed contractors in the preparation of the Victory Medal, acting as U.S. Inspectors and representing the War Department at each of the three production sites. Would Inspectors assigned to maintain a specific standard at each site have let two types of suspension be distributed? Felix Weil, who along with his brother Henri who founded the Medallic Art Company, wrote to Daniel Chester French, a personal friend of the Secretary of War, Newton D. Baker, requesting that French forward the Weils name, and that of their company, to Secretary Baker as a potential vendor for the Victory Medal. The War Department did indeed select the Medallic Art Company as the manufacturer to formulate proof sets for the new Victory Medal. Secretary Baker's enticing action spurred on the enthusiasm of the Weil brothers and the third owner, Clyde Tree, to the point where they expected and assumed that they would control the entire project, including the making of millions of Victory Medals. If their assumption proved correct, the profit they stood to make would be tremendous. In addition, they were working alongside the original designer of the Victory Medal, James E. Fraser. I think the Medallic Art Company had every reason to believe they were in an opportune position to be the chosen manufacturer.  Nevertheless, one factor they seemed to overlook was the possibility that the War Department might put the project up for a general bid.  Unfortunately for the Medallic Art Company, that is exactly what happened.


When the bids opened, it has been reported that Medallic Art Company bid 75 cents per medal, while other bids ranged from 17 cents to a dollar per medal.[3] Art Metal Works Inc. of New Jersey won with the low bid of 17 cents.[4] The company had never made medals, but did have equipment sufficient to do the work. The War Department awarded the contract to Art Metal Works Inc. and two other manufacturers, S.G. Adams Stamp and Stationery Co., and Jos. Mayer's Inc.


I must add that while the bid of 75 cents may seem shockingly high when the winning bid was 17 cents, the normal historical rate for individual medal production during that time period was 65 to 75 cents. [5] I think that the Medallic Art Company didn't realize that all the dies and hubs were being made and supplied by the U.S. Mint. Had they known that fact, its bid might have been greatly reduced.


When Medallic Art Company received an order for the initial 100 medals to be composed of bronze, they may have concluded that bronze would be the chosen alloy for the Victory Medals. It does not require an unreasonable stretch of thought to conclude that the Medallic Art Company, realizing the massive demand that would be put upon them, may have decided to ramp up early production, which would have resulted in an initial stockpile of these wire-loop suspension medals composed of bronze, in anticipation of a contract that never materialized.


In this illustration below note the higher quality and the bronze coloring of the Type-1 (wire-loop) medal on the left, when compared to the much brassier look of the type-2 (knob) suspension on the right. Most, if not all, of the Type-1 (wire-loop) medals have a bronze appearance.


(Illustration 54: the different between the type-1 and the type-2 suspension.)


In the illustration below, the top medal is a Type-2 (knob). The medal measures just slightly over 2mm thick at the 9 o'clock position on the rim. The bottom medal is the Type-1 (wire-loop) and measures approximately 3 mm thick at the 9 o'clock position on the rim.


(Illustration 55: The thickness difference between the type-1 and the type-2.)


Additionally, Medallic Art Company was aware that U.S. medals predating the Victory Medal had employed a wire-loop type as the historically preferred means of suspension which of course is found on all Type-1 Victory Medals. Before a contractor had been officially chosen, Medallic Art Company would not have been aware that the Interallied Commission had agreed that a knob type suspension would be standard for all Victory Medals. Further, the ribbons of nearly all wire-loop suspension medals employ an unofficial drape which bears white threading between the blue and green sections on both sides.



[1]   Meeting minutes of The Commission of Fine Arts state, " its ring suspension, shall be similar to that of the French medal of the Campaign of 1870" shown above in the illustration as the medal labeled "1870-1871 Prussian War".

[2]   See Illustration of Interallied Victory Medals Sections: United States Modern reproduction type-8.

[3]  http://medalblog.wordpress.com/2010/11/22/the-institute-of-heraldry-%E2%80%A8loves-medallic-art-company/

[4]  The Art Metal Works Inc. low bid of 17 cents per medal had another major impact. Bailey, Banks & Biddle had agreed to a contract with the Navy to manufacture the Victory Medal for 65 cents each, but that changed and the Navy's Victory Medal would now be produced for the same low bid and obtained via the Army's contract. More on the Navy's connection can be found in the naval section of this book - September 8, 1919, Circular Letter No. 129-19, third paragraph down.

[5]  Some of this information can be found in the MEDALBLOG, Medal Making History, by D. Wayne Johnson, November 22, 2010 at the website http://medalblog.wordpress.com/2010/11/22/the-institute-of-heraldry-%E2%80%A8loves-medallic-art-company/ and also at The E-Sylum: Volume 8, Number 41, September 25, 2005, Article 16, Fraser Victory Medal "Not a Die Trial", by Wayne Homren, Editor, http://www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v08n41a16.html.

I want to thank you, those who purchased my book. I have set the cut off at 699 copies which I am only at 632 copies sold. As some of you know I am retiring and selling off all but my USA victory medals which I will pass on to Grand children. I do hope I have added something good to each to you.

Its been fun, and best regards, Jim

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On 25/5/2016 at 19:39, oliver860 said:

Hello, gentlemen!

Help is needed!

We need a new Battle Clasp Matrix!!!!!!

Hello Oliver,

There has already battle claps matrix's posted in this thread (# 14, # 19 and # 343) which show the most common clasp combinations.  Barring any major revelation about incorrect attribution at the divisional level it is not likely that a new matrix is going to be produced. 

The clasp matrix from the Laslo volume (Ed 1) is still considered relevant.  Any further detail required on specific individuals, or units not listed in these matrix's, would require further detailed research.  There are a number of additional references relating to battle and service clasp entitlement with the most recent published being:

'WW1 Campaign and Service Credits', Planchet Press Publication, Pub 21B (June 1996).

If you contact the OMSA it is possible that someone may still have a copy available for sale.


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  • 3 months later...

I am sorry for posting this article at such a late date and with added hopes of being able to help members find some information on the American clasps and its matrix. In my book I have posted a full page of over 40 clasps combination which I feel will aid the U.S. Collecters. Below is from my book, World War I, Victory Medals which was first  published in 2014, with over 700 copies being purchased as of this post. Those interested in a copy my book is being sold on Amazon.com or Amazon.uk


Publications Which Augment the Pamphlet



There are many sources of information, which I have listed throughout this book. Then there are other sources of information which may confuse as to what publication was used by the Army to collaborate and reference battle entitlements. I feel the 1920 War Department pamphlet, Battle Participation of Organizations of the American Expeditionary Forces in France, Belgium and Italy; 1917-1918 would have been the main line of defense and essential to those filling out applications for the thousands of veterans starting in 1920. Where-as the WWI Campaign and Service Credits pamphlet printed by Planchet Press, Arlington, Virginia, in June of 1996 is also a very important source of information and a must read for any serious collector of United States Forces Serving during World War I. However, in my humble opinion it comes into its own for the minor changes found and extracted from listings found in General Orders dating from 1922, 1923, 1926, 1927, 1930 and 1937, with the addition or subtraction of one or more battles affecting historically only a handful of units and without affecting the bulk awarding of the Victory Medal already awarded.


This pamphlet, published much later in 1996, could only show the changes to a unit's history, which is immensely different from what happened in 1920, 1921 and 1922, when the majority of Victory Medals were being issued. Although this pamphlet may provide a long term historical trajectory of units in WWI, the information is post facto and amends information rather than showing a snapshot of the information relevant to the issuing of early Victory Medals. The key to my statement goes back to April 6, 1919, G.O. No. 48 - France, A.E.F., General Pershing, when all unit commanders would have had a full sixteen months before the first Victory Medal was issued. That being the case, they could have updated their own records to ensure accuracy, providing any changes or corrections needed to ensure the correct histories and honors of their command. After all, they wrote their own battle reports, which in turn they then sent to Pershing's Headquarters for final approval.



Yet, with this all said, a late correction was made. Here is where I found two postings for the same unit. One in The Pacific Coast Journal of Nursing, January 1921, p. 46, and another in The American Journal of Nursing, 1921, p. 261. Both noted that a recent special decision had been rendered in regards to the awarding of the Victory Medals:


Army Nurses, who were attached to Evacuation Hospital No. 5, during its entire service in France, are entitled to the battle clasps, Aisne-Marne, Oise-Aisne, Ypres-Lys, Meuse-Argonne and Defensive Sector. Those who received their medals without the Oise-Aisne clasps should write to the Office of the Surgeon General in regards to a replacement award, of which he was aware, and had made special arrangements with the Army Quartermaster's Corps in this matter. The words "recent special decision" is so telling as how rarely a change was made before 1921.[1]

[1]  Noting these corrections were made before any listings in General Orders dating after 1922.

Edited by johnnymac
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Hi Gents,

My first medal of 2017! Arrived today ...


... obverse ...


... reverse.

The clasp rope segment count is 261/2 31/2 261/2 31/2  ,which appears to make it a Gleim Type III, according to Laslo and Jim Michels books. It has the smooth background and width of 6.3mm, and would have been made by the US Mint.

It makes a nice companion to my edge-engraved example. I'm wondering if I should make an attempt to fit a better piece of ribbon, and reinstate the clasp and brooch in their proper positions - if I can source an original piece of US ribbon. Your thoughts are invited.




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From a purist point of view, best to leave things alone and original as they represent the actual history of the piece.  However, you're the owner and some would say caretaker for now, so that decision is entirely yours.

If you were to change the ribbon, there are still many original unissued/unattributed medals out there and in anywhere from decent to mint condition.  I would simply get one of the basic medals with shorter drape and replace it, carefully moving the bar over to the new ribbon.  That way you know everything is at least original period stock.  You can always keep the original ribbon on the side and when you no longer want to keep the piece, move it all together.


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Many thanks for your thoughts on this, Tim & Paul. I was coming to the conclusion that swapping a ribbon from another medal was the only way of finding a replacement, but I don't like the idea of messing up a perfectly good, if unattribited, medal! If the ribbon wasn't held in place by the wrap brooch and stitches it might not be so bad, but the US vics almost always have these fixings.


Edited by Bilco
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Understand the dilemma you face as I hate to ruin one item to fix another as well.  It is the easiest way and probably as economical as any other in my view.

There are rolls or small sections of WW1 Victory ribbon often for sale, though many of not the correct pattern.  You could try the OMSA as they often sell original replacement ribbon though I don't know how much a section would cost.  Purple thread to tack it on and I assume you just use the original brooch you have in hand.  Shouldn't be too hard.

Best of luck,


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  • 3 weeks later...

(I am in with Tim B and Paul Wood, leave the ribbon alone)

Hi Bill, this is from my book page 99

The nineteenth clasp, the West Indies, was not approved until much later, in December of 1921. Only the U.S. Mint manufactured this named clasp. (there are copies but this clasp you have is not a copy)


I would like to add three thoughts: (1) This clasp is a U.S. Mint made clasp. (2) Great Lakes ILL is a training camp or “Boot Camp" mainly for new sailors. (3) USNRF stands for United States Naval Reserve Force. The last two facts would entitle a sailor to the victory medal, for those sailors serving between April 6, 1917 and Nov. 18, 1918.


So what I see is this sailor was at Great Lakes Ill during or at the end of the WWI, between dates of April 6, 1917 and Nov. 18, 1918.

Had he served elsewhere I am sure he would have had it engraved on the medal. He may, at a later date after the war, have served in the West Indies (Haiti, Santo Domingo, Cuba or the U.S. Virgin Islands), and he may have felt he was entitled to this clasp.

Without the proper paperwork, it is all speculation, as to where he served and why he would have been entitled to this clasp.

Additionally, the condition of this medal may be due to two factors: Adding the clasp at a later date and the act of engraving of the medal.



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Nice medal. Is it 3mm? 

Also I will add this:

It was asked on another forum why the USA service clasp like “France” would not be placed together with battles clasps on the same medal.


I will try to explain it and hopefully it will answer future questions on why those two types of clasps are never issued together.  If you had received one or more battle clasps, the battle clasp itself would be a clear indication of your service in that country. So to add a clasp, like France to your named battle clasps, would be redundant.

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I believe I have a rarity here, the Michels "unknown type."  As you can see, it is silver, though apparently bronze underneath.  It looks old enough not to be a modern repro, and I have looked under a magnifying glass and can see no trace of the designer's name in the usual place.  It also has no markings on the rim.  Thoughts?




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Yeah, I'm thinking that's what it might be, though the silver one in his book looks darker.  Does anyone know if that variant is a different metal or if it is just colored to look silver?

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  • 2 weeks later...

As the Medal is not pure silver, I think the medal was "customized" by the veteran. It is not common to see this, but we have examples like the Silver Vic of Jim's Book .. is an exclusive Medal. This is my thinking.

Is "10" scratched or embossed?

Best Regards



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