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Wessel Gordon

Should I or shouldn't I?

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I have a collection of 42 US medals of which 9 are full sets of full size and miniature medals. I'm undecided if I should dig deep into my savings and buy the medals I need to complete the other 33 sets.

Is that a good strategy or should I rather wait and build up my collection over a few years?

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Gordon my opinion on US

Gordon my opinion on US medals is like most non UK they are not named and therefore you have no idea what they did to earn them. My nephew bought a WW1 UK Victory medal in a junk shop for £2 ) Megan as a teacher you will understand, he researched the named recipient, spent time in Lincolnshire and Northumberland exploring parish records, actually ended up meeting (and as he put it stuffed with cake) descendants of the recipients. He ended up getting a distinction for his history project and is now destroying his liver in my alma mater Newcastle university.  Not bad for a £2 piece of crap.

ATB

Paul

 

 

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Sorry about the spelling errors I hope the person who invented predictive  text will spend eternity in hell in the worst agony imaginable

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Paul,

Thanks for the excellent advice.

For me medal collecting doesn't necessarily involve knowing the history that precipitated the awarding of the medal but rather the medal itself so putting names to medals isn't an all-consuming part of the hobby, although I know that it's a passion for some collectors and I respect their decision to do research before/after investing in a medal.

I do have 10 full-size SADF medals that is numbered with a serial number since it's our military's custom to number rather than name medals. I approached a military researcher with the numbers and asked him if he could track down the original owners. He replied within a few minutes and said that after having a look at the serial numbers I provided it's unlikely that they were ever issued and IF they were tracking them down will be a task of monumental proportions as proper lists wasn't kept of which serial number was awarded to a particular service men and unfortunately in South Africa it seems you have to know someone with access to the records and be willing to bribe handsomely to get the right information. I'm guessing the medals I have was struck by the military and most likely sat in a warehouse till some officer started selling them off either by legal or illegal means. So to make a long story short: I decided not to waste good money and the researcher's time on something that in the end might be a futile exercise.

 

Edited by Wessel Gordon

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As a avid collector of US awards and owner of a blog site on the subject I would say go with what you like to collect. In this collecting world "whatever floats your boat" in my opinion, whether its collecting beer mats, porcelain, badges or medals then go for it. I have most US military medals from WW2 up to Vietnam and some beyond but I would advise doing some research first and seeing whats out there before parting with your hard earned cash, so do some homework. 

I do have a few named US medals including a army "Soldiers Medal" issued to a Vietnam 5th Special forces guy who was captured and imprisoned by the North Vietnamese. Also a couple of named ww2 army good conducts and an Army commendation (possible Vietnam era). There's also numbered medals such as the silver star and purple heart but these may be untraceable unless you have provenance. My pride and joy is a ww2 US mint made Navy Cross, just need the case for it though. Good hunting but take your time you'll get there.

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Edited by muckaroon1960

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Gordon  I agree. I collect to the Indian army either  Indians, Anglo Indians, Portuguese indians. Many Sepoys, Naiks,and Halvidars are unresearchable however you can find out what their units were up to so you can get some idea of what was going on. Some of the N W Frontier campaigns were hard fought an unparalleled in their savagery. A Pathan gave no quarter  but admired brave opponents, their hospitality was beyond belief and many an enemy was surprised to experience. Sorry I am being a boring old fart but with over 800 medals I will never be cured, I make a drug addict or alcoholic seem sane.

Paul

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muckaroon,

Thanks for the advice. What you're saying makes sense: if I blow all my money now simply to gratify my urge to have full sets I might not have money to buy if something really spectacular comes along.

 

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Muckaroon if you can find them there are some lovely US groups around. Trouble is,especially with some of the great war gallantry there are some very dangerous fakes so caveat emperor and buy as much quality research as you can afford 

$100 dollars in research can save you thousands in avoiding frauds.

Paul 

 

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Paul,

My collection is non-existent next to yours. I only have 87 (86 in my possession and 1 showing up by courier hopefully by tomorrow.

My family I share the house with regularly complains about me spending money on it but I'm like you: I'm hooked and I bluntly refuse to give up so rehab isn't going to do me any good either.

 

Paul,

You raise a very good point there.

I'm sure an experienced collector like you can (usually) tell if a medal is a fake or the real thing but as you said there's fakes out there that looks genuine e.g. right color for the supposed age, patina etc.

 

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Muckaroon when it comes to the  Naval medal you illustrate you cant beat a fully attributed "black widow"

Paul 

At the end of the day the more valuable the item the better the fake. What really angers me is collectors who invest thousands in medals will not invest a decent amount of funds in research. Knowledge is power the more you learn the less likely you are to be screwed. If collectors spent 10% of their funds on research the forgers would have to work a lot harder

 

That's my 4 rupees and 8 annas worth

Paul

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Paul,

I totally agree with you. People that fake popular medals and try to pass them on as ''genuine'' should be exposed to warfare that would shame both World Wars.

However, how do you feel a seller selling a ''fake'' or reproduction and tells you up front it's a copy?

 

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No problem whatsoever. Especially if the edge is inscribed SORU in Russian  (COPY). There is no problem  with  copies as long as they do not pretend to be anything else. 

Paul 

 

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Paul I agree the black widow is the holy grail in terms of navy cross collecting but unfortunately faked a lot. The navy cross is one of the rarest issue awards and highly collectable.

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When I was at Sotheby's we sold Byrd'sj (the Polar explorer) medals  (1990) which included a black widow and a Tiffany gold MoH. Lovely to have handled undoubtedly genuine classics. I wish I hadn't been married and bankrupt at the time, there was a beautiful Tifanny diamond set polar bear tie pin which I seriously covered and which given the chance I would have proudly worn.

Paul

Bugger predictive  text should have read coveted.

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Paul,

A stupid question from an uneducated collector: what is the ''black widow'' you refer to in terms of the DSC?

 

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It is a WW1 DSC which happens to be darker than other issues of the DSC many were awarded posthumously hence the widow.

Paul

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Hi Guys, the black widow Navy Cross was an early WW2 issued medal and was discoloured due to its oxidised finish as it was apparently "left too long in the furnace" N.B. This bit could be an urban myth? However as Paul has pointed out it was nicknamed the Black Widow because many of the early awards were posthumously awarded and are extremely rare. 

Edited by muckaroon1960

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14 hours ago, paul wood said:

It is a WW1 DSC which happens to be darker than other issues of the DSC many were awarded posthumously hence the widow.

Paul

No, a black widow is an early WW2 Navy Cross and not a WW1 DSC.

 

Regards

Herman 

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Byrds was definitely a black widow according to Gale Hawkes and George Harris and his was a WW1 award. In WW2 he was busy molesting penguins.

Paul

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Thanks to all the people (and unmolested penguins) for the answers.

I suspected it had something to do with a posthumous award to a family member but wasn't sure. I was raised in the generation where Google was something that didn't even exist in Star Wars movies so if you wanted to know something you asked.

 

 

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Less disinformation in those days.

Being in the numismatic trade (ie  coins and medals). People ask advice as to the value of certain items. After giving my considered opinion I often get the reply "but on the internet it says....." i then reply "do you believe every word you read in the Bible" to which the reply is "Of course not: do you think I am stupid?". My reply is "yes If you believe everything you read on-line". I think there is more likely to be accurate information in the Bible than a lot of the rubbish printed on-line. These days it seems that if the internet says it is true it has to be. We are more gullible today than the most supersticious of medieval  peasants. My few pennies worth of thoughts.

Paul

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Paul,

Well put. The younger generation (those born since the advent of the cheaper home PC and later) seems to have the attitude that ''it says so on the net so every word in it is worth more than the holy grail of eternal youth''.

I remember doing assignments in my schooldays and if I couldn't cite at least 2-3 different sources for so-called facts you were in a truckload of trouble and in a barge-load worth of re-doing the assignment the way it should have been done in the first place. I still vividly remember doing assignments with at least 3-4 different encyclopaedias and at least two dictionaries spread on the floor around me as I worked: heaven and hell both forbid you hand in material that wasn't properly verified by the stated number of sources and  littered with spelling-errors.

 

 

 

 

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Here's some of the resource I've used when researching US awards and ribbons. Might be worth a look.

The Call of Duty, (R James Bender Publishing 1994) John E Sandberg & Roger James Bender.

American War Medals & Decorations. (Viking Press, New York. Leo Cooper Ltd, 1st UK Edition 1973) Evans E Kerrigan

US Military Medals 1939 to Present (Medals of America Press 1998, Fountain Inn, SC) Col. Frank Foster & Mr. Lawrence Borts.

Uncommon Valor, decorations, badges & service medals of the US Navy & Marine Corp. (eagle print shop,Hopkinsville, Kentucky 1980) David L Riley Lt USN.

 

 

Edited by muckaroon1960

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While now over 45 years old Kerrigan's book is still as good as they come (although no use for post 73 US awards).

Paul

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36 minutes ago, paul wood said:

While now over 45 years old Kerrigan's book is still as good as they come (although no use for post 73 US awards).

Paul

Hi Paul, I do also have a 1990 updated version with coloured prints. Not sure if there are any later versions?

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