Does the lack of engraving make WW2 medals less collectible?

Discussion in 'WW2 Militaria' started by PHIL85, Jun 21, 2020.

  1. PHIL85

    PHIL85 Member

    Might be a controversial question and I’ll preface by saying I mean absolutely no disrespect to those service members and families who earnt the medals.

    However, I’ve been thinking about this for a while and wondered what other people thought:

    All other things being equal, does the lack of engraving/stamping make a WW2 medal less collectible and desirable (to a collector) than, say, a WW1 medal, the majority of which are stamped with the soldier’s name and serial number?

    It seems to me that the provenance and background is clearly easier to ascertain with a WW1 medal, and the medal is more difficult to replace. Of course, though, stamped or not, medals issued to an individual should carry the same significance and therefore as long as there’s some provenance to show where the medal came from and who it was issued to, maybe the stamping doesn’t matter? Is this important to a collector?

    What does the group think?
  2. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    I'd say it does - I don't collect medals, I collect paperwork but that sometimes comes with medals but even then I tend to value the medals as unrelated (although I should add I always keep the group together) - I have heard of instances where someone gets a group of paperwork and splits it and then adds medals to each of the split groups and sells on, so for instance a log book/paybook/award slip can be split and each sold with medals to squeeze more money out. I've also recently seen an Arnhem group that was basically built around a newspaper cutting and with a doctored medal box and went for £400+ the medals didn't even match the service described in the cutting. Even with provenance - if you buy direct from the veteran so know 100% they are his you have to consider when it comes to selling them on does your word carry value, buyer beware so if you sell a group that belonged to someone from an exciting unit the buyer has to buy the item not the story as the saying goes.

    When I started buying paybooks they often came from medals and I regularly bought from 3 sellers and each basically accused the others of getting paybooks on their own and adding medals to tart the groups up a bit and push up prices - I have no way of knowing if the groups I have belonged together and unfortunately never will

    It would all be a lot easier if they had just named them, but sadly they didn't - which is a shame for collectors but more of a shame for the original recipients as many felt it a slight on them that they weren't even worth that basic effort.
    8RB, brithm, von Poop and 2 others like this.
  3. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    It has always struck me that the British fighting man has been more and more undervalued when it comes to campaign medals as time has passed.

    Boer War. Two medals, both silver and with name, rank, number and regiment impressed on the rim. Clasps for major engagements and locations.

    1914-18 War. Up to three campaign medals, one silver, all impressed with name, rank, number and regimental details. Battle clasps planned but never issued.

    WW2 Stars by theatre not campaign, not named, none silver. Nothing to indicate service in France in 1940 or Holland in 1944/45, France and Germany Star which you would receive if you were killed on the Normandy beaches without ever setting foot in Germany.

    I guess it was simply a matter of cost rather than a deliberate slight, but those veterans who gave it any thought, must have felt slightly short changed.
  4. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Several of the Burma veterans I have spoken to over the years, did not even apply for their medals when they saw the quality of them and the fact that they were not named.

    The country was bankrupt by the war effort, but the quality of the copper/zinc medals was poor I would say. About sixpence each apparently:

    13 Million Medals
  5. James Harvey

    James Harvey Senior Member

    Judging by the prices in the last year I would say no as groups that I could buy for £50 now going for £150 plus.

    as they were issued un named it’s easier to replace then ww1 where some dealers erase the naming to make them more desirable to families wish to replace lost medals


  6. Bond

    Bond Senior Member

    in the main,yes, the more common un-named campaign stars are relatively cheap, the less common stars are more expensive but still not worth what they cost to earn them imo. it was possibly to have medals privately named, boots being afirm well known for providing this service. I believe Canadian WWII medals were named and some of the commonwealth countries issued silver medals for WWII
    My father was a terrier before the war and as such he was issued his TA medal which is silver and is named to him, which makes his group more valuable than many WWII groups (though obviously never for sale).
  7. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    WW1 medals were not strictly campaign medals- not even theatre medals. If one served in France and Flanders in say 1916, 1917 or 1918 one got the same medal as someone who served in Salonika, Mesopotamia, Italy, East or West Africa, Egypt, The Western Desert, Palestine etc etc. My Gt Uncle served in the Western Desert, Egypt, Palestine and France in that order and one medal covered the lot. In the past I met WW1 vets who were resentful. Numbers were able to sell/pawn their medals as the metal content was valuable. Men who had served in non European units didn't even get that benefit as they were issued with the same medals but cast in inferior metal!
  8. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    At the very least, a lack of engraved names removes whole areas of themed collecting...Regiments, actions, family names, casualties and I have heard several times from servicemen that they didn't apply for their medals as the government couldn't be bothered to engrave them. All in all, it was a mean gesture.

    The lack of interesting campaign medal sets does though probably increase the interest in sets that can be attributed by virtue of gallantry awards or pre / post-war named decorations such as LS&GC or TEM.
  9. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Indeed, but the point is they would have been if the campaign and battle clasps had been issued.
  10. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    I agree James,

    Of late WW2 groups are far more common at auction (which is great), the prices have crept up accordingly, but sometimes the provenance has not. The days of picking up bargains through the seller's lack of knowledge have all but gone.
  11. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    Quite a number of WW1 servicemen returned their medals and if they hadn't been engraved they could have been reused for later claimants. This may be one reason why WW2 ones weren't engraved.
  12. Staffsyeoman

    Staffsyeoman Member

    The cold fact is "yes" they are less valuable in monetary terms - except for the scarcer stars (Air Crew Europe/Pacific/Arctic) but prices are climbing. The potential for fraud has not yet diminished due to the lack of accessible medal rolls; at a fair last year a dealer had a large collection of "desirable" groups mounted up - fighter pilots, paratrooper casualties, Commandos and casualties thereof; accompanied with photographs - who may or may not have been the recipient - reproduced medal slips and casualty scrolls, and high prices. No real provenance. As soon as the rolls become publicly available the scope for this will diminish, but there is life in the fakers yet.

    As to the quality of the medals, I was told that the regimental tailors at Wellington Barracks were left with lacerated and bleeding fingers from mounting early production Stars. I am sure they weren't alone.

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