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Elmar Lang

The Medal of Honor outside the USA

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Hello,

thanks to a kind, fellow collector, I've been able to acquire two early Medals of Honor, one unnamed (with the 1896 ribbon) and one named, from the Civil War, with its proper ribbon.

The second one, was not awarded to a hero of Bull Run, Shiloh, or Gettysburg, but to a soldier of the 27th Maine Vols.: at least a piece with a curious history behind it. Both pieces, with the engraver's signature of Paquet.

The man whose name is engraved on the reverse, is Samuel S. Smith, from the "E" Company. He isn't in Col. Wentworth's list so I assume that this medal is from the group the late regiment's commander preserved in his barn, until it was plundered and the medals dispersed. We know that in 1917, all the awards to the 27th have been withdrawn and the names, canceled from the Roll of Honor.

My collecting interest is centered on the Austrian monarchy, but I find fascinating certain awards for valour and gallantry from other countries too: the early, US Medal of Honor is to me highly attractive for its beautiful design, and its "low-profile" appearance, in my opinion not far from the British Victoria Cross.

I've read about the law forbidding in the USA the trade and limiting the property of the MoH, the Purple Heart and other federal awards. My concern is about possible problems -as a collector- possessing these two pieces.

By the way, I see that a well-known dealer from Canada has sold and is selling beautiful pieces of this medal. One, shall also be for sale at Hermann Historica…

All the best,

Enzo (E.L.)

 

 

 

 

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As I understand it (being neither a lawyer nor an American), as long as you don't try to sell your Medals of Honor in the USA you should be OK. Probably best not to sell to an American citizen even elsewhere.

I've been twice asked to facilitate sales by European citizens of the MoH. One was sold to another European, the other went to a museum in America, who went to great lenths to provide proof that they WERE a genuine museum and thus entitled to purchase and display an MoH.

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Always highly amusing at OMSA public days are obvious feds (they ought to have flashing neon hats) furtively asking all members of the trade if they have MOHs  as they are fervent collecors. As far as I am aware noone has been stupid enough to fall for it.

Paul

 

 

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I believe under the Stolen Valor act  it is illegal to buy or sell an officially made unnamed specimen within the US

Paul 

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3 hours ago, Great Dane said:

Are US citizens allowed to own unnamed ones?

US citizens are allowed to own both named and unnamed Medals of Honor.

Makes no difference if it's inside or outside USA.

 

Edited by Matthew Macleod

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"are allowed..."?

OK, now I'm a little confused...

So what is NOT allowed (for the MoH)?
Apart from wearing it if you didn't earn it, of course...

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What is illegal is: buying, attempting to buy, soliciting for purchase, mailing, shipping, importing, exporting, manufacturing, selling, attempting to sell, advertising for sale, trading, bartering, exchanging for anything of value or producing blank certificates of receipt for it.

As for wearing it if you did not earn it- you are allowed to do so. Same with claiming you were awarded it- also perfectly legal.

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Thank you for the kind, interesting replies. 

Now, I assume I'd better avoid to go to a militaria show in the US, with my MsoH in the pocket. But I'm feeling much better, because I could pretend to be a Civil War veteran, decorated with the Medal of Honor. 

Interesting, Paul's remark on the "perfectly disguised" Federals mixed in the crowd... 

I'm also feeling much safe now, not existing the risk to see out of home a Chevrolet van of some "Acme plumbing Co." (with a tall antenna on top), black dressed gentlemen casually reading newspapers and me being their objective for an 'extraordinary rendition' (codename: "Wentworth's Barn"). Actually, I wouldn't like to live in Ft. Leavenworth, dressed in some orange overall... 

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I think orange would would add to your already distinguished persona

Paul

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I agree that orange is a delightful colour, but the large, black inscriptions printed on the back of those overalls, are disgracefully without any taste.

Back to the topic, I've read about a relatively recent fact, where a person from Canada, sold a MoH on eBay (or a similar web-based place). The buyer, who actually was a Federal agent, asked the seller to personally take the piece to the US. The seller, aware of the law, was reluctant, but at the end accepted, after the insistence of the supposedly real buyer. Once entered in the US, at the meeting place, he was immediately arrested; the piece (another 27th Maine medal…) confiscated, etc. etc. I don't know anything about the fate of that gentleman.

In my case -would I decide to part with one or both my medals, I will take as an alarming sign, if the "collector" would kindly ask to consign the piece at an US Consulate...

Enzo (E.L.)

Edited by Elmar Lang

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Any quarter decent lawyer would have got him off on entrapment although he deserved a lengthy sentence for gross stupidity.

Paul

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You're right Paul, but I think that a ferocious "foreign fighter" risks much less than an openly recognized owner of an US Medal of Honor, as soon as he would be showing his "mens rea", trying to sell his piece.

Now, I begin to fear any flying drone (although no mens rea, yet…).

Enzo

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I have two MOH's that I bought before the Stolen Valor act was passed. It should not be illegal to but or sell them. I am a collector, Army veteran, and do not pretend the medal was awarded to me. Also, I am American..

 

 

Kevin

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Nice know there was life before the SVA. As a collector of medals to Indians in the Indian army i would love to own a Victoria Cross. I have one in mind but it may be many years before i finally own it. Given the recipient was a Northern Muslim posthumous recipient i think there is little danger of me claiming I earned it.

Paul

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On 12/05/2019 at 20:43, Matthew Macleod said:

What is illegal is: buying, attempting to buy, soliciting for purchase, mailing, shipping, importing, exporting, manufacturing, selling, attempting to sell, advertising for sale, trading, bartering, exchanging for anything of value or producing blank certificates of receipt for it.

As for wearing it if you did not earn it- you are allowed to do so. Same with claiming you were awarded it- also perfectly legal.

Yes, apparently wearing unearned medals as a way of 'communicating' something about the conflict or uniform or award itself is a form of free expression and so, it has been argued, the SVA is unconstitutional in its ban on such wearing.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/14/us/ex-marine-can-wear-medals-he-didnt-earn-a-court-calls-it-free-speech.html

But I'm not sure I'd want to try it!  Likely to get a significant negative reaction from those who are entitled.

Edited by peter monahan

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Is "significative negative reaction" an understatement to mean "let's catch him and beat him off"? Or, in the colourful South-Tyrolean dialect "schmier' ihm oane heini!"...

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On ‎22‎/‎07‎/‎2019 at 14:25, Elmar Lang said:

Is "significative negative reaction" an understatement to mean "let's catch him and beat him off"? Or, in the colourful South-Tyrolean dialect "schmier' ihm oane heini!"...

Oh er missus...."beat him off"...I like the sound of that...where can I illegally  obtain my MoH….lol

Edited by muckaroon1960

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Posted (edited)

In relation to the discussion on this thread about the US Stolen Valor Act, a recent German auction a US Medal of Honor from the Spanish American War in Cuba ignited a row between US Senator Ted Cruz (republican from Texas) and the Munich-based auction house Hermann Historica. A named MOH awarded to Thomas Kelly in 1898 is the featured medal in this controversy. Kelly was an Irish immigrant who enlisted in the US Army in 1894 and fought in the notorious Battle of San Juan Hill, rescuing a soldier off the battlefield. Kelly remained in the military until his death in New York  in 1920. Senator Cruz wrote a letter complaining about the auction sale that he addressed to US Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, stating: “The sale harms the dignity and honor of all recipients of the Medal of Honor”. His campaign to stop the sale apparently drove the price of the MOH well above the estimated €3,000 value for a hammer price of €14,000. As others have stated in this thread, selling medals awarded by Congress is illegal in the United States and is punishable by fines of up to $100,000 and a year in jail. Apparently, the president and CEO of the National Medal of Honor Museum in Arlington, Texas, Joe Daniels, also tried to prevent the sale of this MOH, sending complaints to Secretary of State Pompeo, President Donald Trump, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and Attorney General William Barr urging them to try and stop the auction sale of Kelly’s medal.

large.917108286_ThomasKellyMOHSpanishAmericanWar.jpg.98e5ddc4d06b283d6a516765e8a0468c.jpg

Private Thomas Kelly's US Medal of Honor medal awarded on 4 July, 1898 for his valor on 1 July when Pvt. Kelly rescued a wounded man off the battlefield of the Battle of San Juan Hill. Kelly was in H Company of the 21st Infantry Regiment. The reverse is engraved: "The Congress to Private Thomas Kelly - C° H 21st U.S.Infty., for gallantry in action at Santiago, Cuba, July 1, 1898". Very high resolution images of the obverse and reverse of this medal are present on the Hermann Historica online auction catalog listing for the A82m Auction, Lot 5099, International Orders & Military Collectibles, of 28 May, 2020 (https://www.hermann-historica.de/en/auctions/lot/id/72055). The width is given as 53.3.mm. The ribbon is identified as original, of the design used between 1896 and 1903. 

Edited by Rusty Greaves

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There is always one idiot in Congress who thinks US law applies to Europe. Possibly intelligence prevents the holding of political office.

P

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5 hours ago, paul wood said:

There is always one idiot in Congress who thinks US law applies to Europe. Possibly intelligence prevents the holding of political office.

P

Many United States laws have extraterritorial application. These range from laws against genocide and war crimes and laws relating to recovery for torts by immigrants and refugees when the torts occurred in other countries to various tax laws and the like. The existence of these laws is a matter of fact. As a practical matter, enforcement of such laws can be difficult, since that often requires the cooperation of foreign law enforcement agencies and judicial and political authorities, and there are also often evidentiary issues (getting depositions or testimony from foreign parties, for example). Of course, all international law is as a practical matter subject to the cooperation or coercion of the parties, sometimes by meetings, sometimes by tanks.

By the way, extraterritoriality is not unique to the U.S. Other countries also purport to apply certain laws outside their own jurisdictions, and face the same practical issues. The ban on "Nazi" items on fora like eBay, for example, began because of efforts by France and Germany to apply their own laws on Nazi propaganda not just to yahoo.fr or ebay.de, but to the entire global enterprises.

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Prior to WW1 if us British did not like something another country was up to we didnt muck about we just sent in a gun boat. Hence the phrase gun boat diplomacy. Something else we gave the world.

P

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23 hours ago, Dave Danner said:

Many United States laws have extraterritorial application. These range from laws against genocide and war crimes and laws relating to recovery for torts by immigrants and refugees when the torts occurred in other countries to various tax laws and the like. The existence of these laws is a matter of fact. As a practical matter, enforcement of such laws can be difficult, since that often requires the cooperation of foreign law enforcement agencies and judicial and political authorities, and there are also often evidentiary issues (getting depositions or testimony from foreign parties, for example). Of course, all international law is as a practical matter subject to the cooperation or coercion of the parties, sometimes by meetings, sometimes by tanks.

By the way, extraterritoriality is not unique to the U.S. Other countries also purport to apply certain laws outside their own jurisdictions, and face the same practical issues. The ban on "Nazi" items on fora like eBay, for example, began because of efforts by France and Germany to apply their own laws on Nazi propaganda not just to yahoo.fr or ebay.de, but to the entire global enterprises.

This is not US law what you refer. This is the case when other countries applied the same or similar law. Than this can be parsued.

You can not punish someone who does not break any local or international law. It doesn’t matter if the US have such a law.

no one follow US law outside and otherwise.

Same for the examples you mentioned about genocide. There are several countries who are not accept the international agreements and not follow this rules.

this can be treated by international courts but there is no possibility to force this if the local authorities not follow the same rules.

kind regards

alex

 

 

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I believe Jaba is correct.  Any law which has 'extraterritorial' application does so as a result of some international accord - in other words, a group of countries have gotten together and agreed that 'this is a crime' everywhere'.  

They are also correct about enforcement: most of these agreements are not signed by ALL members of the UN, which in turn does not represent every nation on Earth. 

Non-signatories rarely help enforce even these 'extraterritorial' laws.  Without pointing  fingers, I would invite you to examine who did and did not sign the international band on the use of land mines in warfare.  :(

 

 

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