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Rare WWI victory medal w/ ring top - Some Information & Questions

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I have not been able to find much information on this variation of the WWI Victory Medal and I have only seen a few of these for sale in the past 10 years or so. I saw that George Harris sold one in 2008 for $170, but his had the traditional brooch commonly seen on WWI victory medals. Additionally, his had the offset reverse which I have seen referred to as a later strike ring top variation. Well, I the last 2 of these that I have found were both directly from an estate and they do not have the same catch found on your standard WWI Victory medal. The 2 that I have feature the "centered reverse" and on both of those is a brooch similar to a US Mint brooch.

 

So, if the ring top Victory Medal with centered reverse and US Mint style brooch is the true original, then which medal came next: the ring top Victory Medal with offset reverse -OR- the common knob type suspension WWI victory medal?

 

Either way, the ring top Victory Medal is certainly hard to come by (both centered & offset reverse) but, I have seen more with the offset reverse than centered.

 

 

Centered reverse, US Mint style brooch:

IMG_4239b.jpg

 

Centered reverse, US Mint style brooch - this medal has an obvious matching gold wash over the planchet, France bar, and brooch:

 

IMG_4075-40.jpg

 

Offset reverse, standard WWI victory medal style brooch - every ring top WWI victory medal with an offset reverse that I have seen features the standard WWI victory medal brooch:

 

IMG_4087b.jpg

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Militarywired

 

The Interallied Victory medal was agreed to by allies in attendance: French, England, United States, Japan, Siam and Czechoslovakia. This award commission met in March 1919. The other countries were invited but not all attended all the meetings. In short the outcome of these meetings was: All medals were to be almost identical to obviate the need to exchange allied medals between counties. They agreed to a double rainbow with the both red stripes meeting in the middle. Each medal was to be patterned after the 1870 French medal in design and size. The 1870 medal was established by the French law of 1911, following the Algerians of 1909. Some allies used their own country's more familiar suspension design, like Greece and Italy, while others subcontracted out their work to contractors who may or may not have known of this unique French designed suspension change. Please note these two French medals below and their different suspensions. This why for the first time, a United States Medal was awarded on something other than a wire ring design and note how close the British Victory medal is to the other 1870 French medal's suspension. Was this a case of which medal the medalsmith was looking at? The U.S., Siam and France used the first design: the "Knob" design. Whereas the England, Czechoslovakia, Japan and others used the second design: the "Barrel" design. All the rest used the "Ball" design which was the standard design in use in France at that time. Mis-understand by language, maybe?

 

 

 

As to your question, I believe all three of the medal you posted are unofficial.

 

regards, Jim

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There's an excellent book by Alexander J. Laslo on the Interallied Victory Medal that explains the "wire-loop" suspension in detail. He refers to it as the "Official Type 1" style. Kinda makes sense that a wire loop would first be used as that was the traditional suspension method used on campaign medals up to that point. He explains that the planchet on this type was also thicker. At some point the decision was made to reduce the thickness of the planchet and replace the suspension. There were also some "wire-loop" planchets with 3-digit numbered rims. These are even rarer than the plain "wire-loop" variety. One last point he makes is that all the "wire-loop" Victory Medals he had seen had unofficially assembled ribbons, which would explain the variation with the brooches. I've only owned one "wire-loop" victory medal in over 40 years of collecting and it has a Tiffany style brooch. It came in a 91st Division group directly from the family along with his uniform, helmet, medals, photos and discharge papers. I would have to agree with Laslo that they were the first official issued US victory medals. His book is a great one to have in your library.

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Trenchbuff, Thank you for the come back, but I already have his first and second book. Please take this with a grain of salt but many more facts have come out with the internet since 1993.

 

Laslo in his first book list the "Wire" loop as the U.S. Type-2. He listed the "Knob" as the first design and he listed it as the U.S. Type-1.

 

In his second book, he reversed this order and the wire loop is now the U.S. Type-1 with the knob suspension now being the U.S. Type-2. Laslo stated this fact in his 2nd book on page 87.

 

Laslo also stated in his 2nd book that the only time he saw an example of the U.S. Type-1 was when he found it in a 1933 vendor catalog of Jos. Mayers years later. I add, almost all the known vendors illustrate the wire loop as the Victory medal they were selling in their catalogs.

 

Laslo also stated that almost all of the Type-1 that he examined had been assembled with unofficial brooches and ribbons (commercial). Page 93 2nd ed.

 

On February 11, 1920, the first Victory Medal was presented to President Wilson as Commander and Chief of the Army and Navy by Secretary of War, Baker. The exchange of letters between President Wilson and Secretary of War, Baker, to this fact listed this date and were published in an article in The New York Times on June 20, 1920. It further states that the general distribution will begin tomorrow on June 21, 1920. His medal is a knob suspension.

 

The 5th medal was issued to General Pershing with a knob suspension not the wire loop.

 

Your medal was purchased from the looks of your clasp, brooch and ribbon (unofficial) from a private vendor. Maybe BB&B. Many veterans had a second medal made for many reasons. Your paperwork which is in excellent shape, would have been needed to purchase from BB&B for a new or replaced medal.

 

 

 

Regards, Jim

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I guess with the lack official written evidence either way, each collector will have to come to their own conclusions based on their own research. As you've indicated, the story seems to change with time.


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If a soldier requested an OFFICIAL replacement or late claim medal from the Government in 1950 or 1960, what type would he have received?

 

Thanks and regards,

 

W


In Peace and War, US Merchant Marine. WARNING: Dangerous Cargo. No Visitors, No Smoking, No Open Lights.

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That would depend on what type of replacement he was seeking. The Government did run out of some of the regular type clasps. They had to contract out gain and start using the pin back for some replacement clasps (the new pin back clasp maintained the earlier style font on the clasp. I believe in the 1950's he would request it from the Defense Supply Management Agency, and then in 1961 Defense Logistics Agency was issuing medals, I believe

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Trenchbuff very nice website

 

 

Thank for your time, regards, Jim

 

Thank you Jim!


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That would depend on what type of replacement he was seeking. The Government did run out of some of the regular type clasps. They had to contract out gain and start using the pin back for some replacement clasps (the new pin back clasp maintained the earlier style font on the clasp. I believe in the 1950's he would request it from the Defense Supply Management Agency, and then in 1961 Defense Logistics Agency was issuing medals, I believe

 

After say 1950, were all Victory Medals that were issued, the wire loop type? Were the early (1920 vintage) Victory Medals used up before WW2?

 

Thanks

 

 

W


In Peace and War, US Merchant Marine. WARNING: Dangerous Cargo. No Visitors, No Smoking, No Open Lights.

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What Laslo has ID'd as the type-2 was used until the early 1980's, then another type-3 with a lug suspension was used, after that a tab type-4 was used. With the last WWI soldier gone there is no more availible, but family members.

 

Jim

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What Laslo has ID'd as the type-2 was used until the early 1980's, then another type-3 with a lug suspension was used, after that a tab type-4 was used. With the last WWI soldier gone there is no more availible, but family members.

 

Jim

 

 

Thanks much!

 

W


In Peace and War, US Merchant Marine. WARNING: Dangerous Cargo. No Visitors, No Smoking, No Open Lights.

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It seems that one conclusion that we can draw is that the "ring top" / "wire loop" variation is not unofficial. Whether produced by BBB or Joseph Mayers (or another medal vendor) should not matter since they were official government contractors at the time. I think to say "Type I or Type II" is confusing because it implies an order. Really, this is just a variation that was produced concurrently with, but not necessarily before the knob top.

 

Here is what we know about the timeline:

- The WWI Victory Medal was authorized April 1919

- It was designed by James Earle Fraser in 1919

- The first one was not issued until February 11, 1920

 

It is entirely possible that any vendor having seen a government drawing could have produced these a couple months before February 11, 1920 with a wire loop. That is a small window to ever conclude whether or not that happened and it does not seem likely. Even if they had, would it even matter? If the Type I/II definition hinges on this then I say scrap it because while it would be interesting to know ultimately it is an insignificant point. It seems calling it the "wire loop variation" is more appropriate.

 

 

Lots of good information you guys!

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Hello everyone!

 

A great thread with awesome information!

 

This particular variation ring suspended medal has always been in question to me. I have 3 examples I'd like to add to this very informative thread. The first has an open clasp full wrap brooch, definitely original to the medal, the ribbon is quite frail. The designer's name is faint on the obverse lower right. I've always thought this one was not official federal issue. An aftermarket strike by any number of federal suppliers perhaps. I have no concrete data on it.

 

The next is a group I purchased together. This example leads me to believe that the ring suspension WWI Vic in this group was made for replacement. The USMC Haitian Campaign that came with it seems to be a dead giveaway to that fact. This specimen of the WW I Vic is very similar to my first one, right down to the open "c" clasp full wrap brooch.

 

The third and final example in my collection is a beautiful piece that has a typical French medal bar slipped through the "sleeve" of the very tightly sewn ribbon drape. The designer's name is even fainter on this example.

 

These medals were no doubt issued quite a while back, in fact, the age on all examples in this thread show that. I have the WWI and WWI National Geographic Awards & Decorations issues, but they are STILL packed away from my move a year ago! I'd be interested if anyone who has them readily at hand could take a peek and see what they show. It would be interesting!

 

My best to you all!

 

Joe

 

post-48324-0-25235600-1360192481.jpg


Don't trick another, and don't get tricked. Don't show your weaknesses, but your spirit.

Member of OMSA 7250 and ASMIC 4552




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the reverse of number 1

 

post-48324-0-57403000-1360192528.jpg


Don't trick another, and don't get tricked. Don't show your weaknesses, but your spirit.

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Number 2 obverse:

 

post-48324-0-65908200-1360192569.jpg


Don't trick another, and don't get tricked. Don't show your weaknesses, but your spirit.

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the reverse of number 2

 

post-48324-0-15620700-1360192612.jpg


Don't trick another, and don't get tricked. Don't show your weaknesses, but your spirit.

Member of OMSA 7250 and ASMIC 4552




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And number 3 obverse

 

post-48324-0-12653700-1360192675.jpg


Don't trick another, and don't get tricked. Don't show your weaknesses, but your spirit.

Member of OMSA 7250 and ASMIC 4552




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this is the reverse to number 3, seems like my first attempt at this didn't go through!

 

post-48324-0-75624700-1360192955.jpg


Don't trick another, and don't get tricked. Don't show your weaknesses, but your spirit.

Member of OMSA 7250 and ASMIC 4552




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It seems that one conclusion that we can draw is that the "ring top" / "wire loop" variation is not unofficial. Whether produced by BBB or Joseph Mayers (or another medal vendor) should not matter since they were official government contractors at the time. I think to say "Type I or Type II" is confusing because it implies an order. Really, this is just a variation that was produced concurrently with, but not necessarily before the knob top.

 

Here is what we know about the timeline:

- The WWI Victory Medal was authorized April 1919

- It was designed by James Earle Fraser in 1919

- The first one was not issued until February 11, 1920

 

It is entirely possible that any vendor having seen a government drawing could have produced these a couple months before February 11, 1920 with a wire loop. That is a small window to ever conclude whether or not that happened and it does not seem likely. Even if they had, would it even matter? If the Type I/II definition hinges on this then I say scrap it because while it would be interesting to know ultimately it is an insignificant point. It seems calling it the "wire loop variation" is more appropriate.

 

 

Lots of good information you guys!

 

Although I would agree they were unofficially ribboned, I'm not convinced there is enough information to say the planchet's were not officially struck. Since several companies seem to have sold the wire-ring medals, maybe they purchased them from the Mint after the design was changed to the thinner knob type. Just a theory, but until someone finds the official answer, it's as good as any.


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Hello everyone!

 

A great thread with awesome information!

 

This particular variation ring suspended medal has always been in question to me. I have 3 examples I'd like to add to this very informative thread. The first has an open clasp full wrap brooch, definitely original to the medal, the ribbon is quite frail. The designer's name is faint on the obverse lower right. I've always thought this one was not official federal issue. An aftermarket strike by any number of federal suppliers perhaps. I have no concrete data on it.

 

The next is a group I purchased together. This example leads me to believe that the ring suspension WWI Vic in this group was made for replacement. The USMC Haitian Campaign that came with it seems to be a dead giveaway to that fact. This specimen of the WW I Vic is very similar to my first one, right down to the open "c" clasp full wrap brooch.

 

The third and final example in my collection is a beautiful piece that has a typical French medal bar slipped through the "sleeve" of the very tightly sewn ribbon drape. The designer's name is even fainter on this example.

 

These medals were no doubt issued quite a while back, in fact, the age on all examples in this thread show that. I have the WWI and WWI National Geographic Awards & Decorations issues, but they are STILL packed away from my move a year ago! I'd be interested if anyone who has them readily at hand could take a peek and see what they show. It would be interesting!

 

My best to you all!

 

Joe

 

post-48324-0-25235600-1360192481.jpg

 

That's a great one Joe!


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Although I would agree they were unofficially ribboned, I'm not convinced there is enough information to say the planchet's were not officially struck. Since several companies seem to have sold the wire-ring medals, maybe they purchased them from the Mint after the design was changed to the thinner knob type. Just a theory, but until someone finds the official answer, it's as good as any.

 

I think they are officially struck too... I used a confusing double negative "not unofficial"

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I tend to think that many of the "wired loop" variety medals were in fact privately made-up items and not officially produced under government contract. The majority of issued medals were of the knob-type suspension and of all the examples I've seen with original issue boxes, all of them had the knob-type suspension. I have never seen a wired-loop variety in it's original issue box.

 

Reading through Laslo's "The Interallied Victory Medals of World War I" (2nd ed.), The Medal Collector 'Special Issue' on "The United States Victory Medal of World War One" (Vol. 28, No. 4 of April 1977), and excerpts of "The Gleim Medal Letters 1971-1997" (O.M.S.A. Medal Notes No. 5), it appears most think along the same lines in regards to these wired-loop medals.

 

Supposedly, the first three of approximately thirty-some sample medals that were struck by Medallic Art Company on 3 February 1920, had small, raised dots on the lower rim. One, two and three dots represented the production of the first three medals. Strandburg's "Call of Duty" shows medal number "one" on pg. 307. The photo is credited to a Tim Culbert.

 

It is believed that President Wilson (as Commander-in-Chief) and Secretary of War, Newton Baker, were given medals number one and two. The War Department intended the remaining sample medals to be used as a "quality standard" for the mass production medals that followed. I take that to mean, some of these were sent on to the companies charged with mass producing the actual issue medals and some to those involved in the Q&A process. One medal (perhaps medal number 3) was returned to the National Commision of Fine Arts for it's archives.

 

The U.S. Mint at Philidelphia provided all dies for the Victory Medal and shipped dies to the three manufacturers (Art Metal Works, Inc.; S.G. Adams Stamp & Stationary Co.; and Jos Mayer, Inc.) for mass production. It is believed that the U.S. Mint did produce a limited quantity of medals, possiblly around 100, and stamped these with "U.S.M." followed by a one or two digit number on the bottom rim. There are several known examples showing these medals with the U.S.M.xx stampings. These medals were probably attached with a wire loop suspension and utilized the wrap brooch with round safety catch, typical of brooches used at the time for U.S. Mint issued medals.

 

There is some speculation that these U.S.M. numbered medals were planned as presentation issues to high-rankning or, most senior, officers and perhaps the numbering system was to record which medal these individuals received. However, as numbering requirements were not maintained due to the vast amount of medals produced and issued for the Great War, the requirement for numbering never came about. It should also be noted that one of these medals (U.S.M. 95) was found in a grouping issued to a Quartermaster officer. The grouping was confirmed through the serial numbers on two other medals. As he was clearly not one of the top 100 senior officers that would have been thought to receive one of these numbered medals, it was thought being in the Quartermaster chain of command, he was able to obtain one of these medals. It should also be noted, that the medal (U.S.M. 95) had the knob-type suspension and not the wire-loop.

 

We may never know until we uncover more examples and any documentation that may come with them.

 

As far as the unnumbered wire-loop variety which is the main topic for discussion here, and we're discussing only the period originals, not the currently made cheap wire loop versions being sold on eBay and elsewhere, it is felt that they were early versions and once the determination was made to have the knob-type suspension, were deemed unusable stock by the manufacturers. I'm sure many of these were scrapped and found their way onto the market via several sources like George Studley.

 

That would support the fact that most of these wire-loop examples are found mounted on various style brooch and unofficially assembled ribbons, sometimes with unofficial clasps and/or attachments. Does that mean they are all fake? IMO, certainly not! We continually see servicemen and veterans acquiring replacement medals, re-issues, display pieces and having ribbons reribboned as time goes on. I think its important to be able to verify the grouping or specific history of the medal in order to properly assess exactly what you have in hand.

 

Tim


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A friendly reminder that my images and material posted here are not to be considered "fair use" or "public domain". If you want to legally use my material outside this forum, for any purpose, my express written permission is requested and required beforehand.

 

Thank you.

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