British Military Medals
Except for World War 2 most medals are named on rim so they are very easy to identify. There are hundreds of different regiments and of course different ranks for medals from 1799 to the present day. Lots of very good replicas of British Military Medals and replacement medals are sold to museums. Replica Medals are exact copies of the original British Military Medal for a certain campaign and supplied with ribbon and a plastic envelope to protect the medal. These are cast medals in high quality alloy if they come from a good dealer.
The replacement medals are die-struck so they are more expensive. Struck in nickel gilt and polished in silver gilt they cost more because these have made by a master craftsman who has carved out by hand and small machine – a “die”. This “die” can cost around two thousand dollars alone. Then you have the actual striking which is completed by a machine usually with a 250 ton press capacity.
Collectors, dealers, ex forces associations and even whole families frame replicas for show.
This way, members of the same family can display their ancestors medals. It is usual for owners to keep the original medals in a safe or bank. Part of the reason is British Military Medals can command a very high premium indeed.
Victoria Cross groups fetch 0,000 whereas a replica group to a Victoria Cross winner at Rorkes Drift, (11 won in one day at Rorkes Drift – Zulu the film was based on this battle) with the VC and Zulu Medal is only about . The Victoria Cross is the highest award in England and the Commonwealth, and is worn as the first medal over any other medal or order. A business guy who sold his company for over 350 million has bought over the years 100 VC groups for around 20 odd million dollars! There are hundreds of different Gallantry and Campaign medals.
I have seen prices up to 0,000, which wasn’t a VC group.
To an officer in the Royal Air Force, the famous C.B. C.B.E. Fighter Operations D.S.O. and 2 Bars, D.F.C. and Bar Group of Nineteen to Air-Vice Marshall J.E. “Johnnie” Johnson, Royal Air Force – the Officially Recognised Highest Scoring R.A.F. Fighter Pilot of the 1939-45 War – went for a World Record price of two hundred and forty one thousand, five hundred pounds!!
So, as you have gathered, there is quite a good market in British Military Medals and each year a Medal yearbook with price guides is published. There are also Miniature Medal Collectors and even an association of Medal Ribbon collectors.
Other reasons why there is such a vibrant market is the British have been in so many wars over the years. We have wars when we, as ex-soldiers, were part of a forgotten army. Talk to people about the Malayan war which lasted from 1948 to 1960 or the Borneo confrontation of 1962 to 1965 and you get blank looks from people who were around during those times.
Medals have been a very good investment over the years. Now they are becoming scarce. Families are waking up to the fact that their parents, grandparents had a history. People are searching for details of their ancestors. It’s now all very searchable and the main reason is the Internet.
One thing is certain. British Military Medals are here to stay. It’s history.
It’s Goodbye from me
Barry Sheppard has authored over 15 published books. On top of those he produced the full 10 set Volumes of Military Cross Winners during the First World War and is amongst others listed on Amazon. Also produced 8 Volumes of Military Medal winners and 3 Volumes of the Distinguished Service Cross during the same period.
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