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Specially Meritorious Medal

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I purchased this medal in 1990 from a fellow collector who has been a long-time member and contributor to this forum. For years I have been content with just knowing that it was what it was; an official display copy. This was as close as I would ever get to a "real" Specially Meritorious as even in 1990 they were well over $2,000 for named examples. However, now that I am contemplating down-sizing my collection, I would like to share it with you and also see if I can find out a little more detail on this piece beyond the obvious. Like, when did the government stop including the Specially Meritorious Medal in its display boards? Was it made by the U.S. Mint? What about the unusual suspension ring and extra wide (1-9/16") ribbon? The medal pendant measures 1-1/4". The suspension ring is triangular (not a bent circle but designed and constructed as a triangle).

 

I look forward to reading your comments.

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I've been able (lucky enough) to have my hands on several real ones, to include in my own collection and unfortunately, this one doesn't look close to the actually awarded ones. If these were made by the government, they were not made in the same style or at the same quality as the actual awarded ones - the finish is different, the brooch is different, and the quality appears to be different as well. I don't like being the bearer of bad news (no one likes to be) but if I had this medal it would be very tough for me to draw a linear correlation between it and the actual ones that were awarded. I also am not a fan of the "for exhibition purposes only" engraving on it - the font used isn't what one typically finds on exhibition awards either.

 

Here are some photos of the one from my collection...

 

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Only a weak society needs government protection or intervention before it pursues its resolve to preserve the truth. Truth needs neither handcuffs nor a badge for its vindication. -Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy

Peace is not the absence of war, but the defense of hard-won freedom. -Anton LaGuardia


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Here are some more photos. Note the ribbon and brooch on mine are no different in size than the other medals. The same goes for the other SMS medals I've handled.

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Only a weak society needs government protection or intervention before it pursues its resolve to preserve the truth. Truth needs neither handcuffs nor a badge for its vindication. -Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy

Peace is not the absence of war, but the defense of hard-won freedom. -Anton LaGuardia


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A close up of the engraving...

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Only a weak society needs government protection or intervention before it pursues its resolve to preserve the truth. Truth needs neither handcuffs nor a badge for its vindication. -Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy

Peace is not the absence of war, but the defense of hard-won freedom. -Anton LaGuardia


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donation2012.gifdonation2013.gifdonation2014.gifdonation2015.gifdonation2016.gif
donation2017.gifdonation2018.gifdonation2019.gifdonation2020.gif

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Incredible SMM group- no one deserved to get that one more than you when you were at the right place, right time.

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A close up of the engraving...

 

Dave, I have had the opportunity to compare this exhibition piece with two awarded SMMs and, although my photo skills can't show it, the pendant is struck identically to those, both in the quality of the strike and the key features such as the spacing of the lettering and the size of the date numerals. The only difference is in the finish. This display copy has some type of finish which as deteriorated with time but not to the point where it is totally gone. The reason I asked if anyone knew how long the Mint made SMMs for display use is because obviously the patina on a display piece would be different than on one that had been worn, especially if the display piece was made 20, 30 or more years after the originals. As for the ribbon and brooch, those still remain a mystery.

 

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I think usmedalman's medal is a good item (apart from the ribbon, which was probably added by a collector at a later date). The planchet looks like a US Mint piece from the mid 1930s to mid 1940s. I used to own one just like it but the finish was in better condition. These were legitimate strikings by the US Mint. I don't have an exact production date or numbers struck but I'm guessing that the number was close to the original production of about 100 medals. It looks like the Mint used the original dies. The finish is typical of Mint medals in the 1930s and early 40s.

 

These later production are rare items. This is on the fourth one I've seen in the past 30+ years. That said, the original production medals are really fantastic in the quality of the strike, the finish and the engraving.

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Here's another example that I still own. It's not marked for exhibit but it has the original ribbon with typical US Mint full wrap brooch. The ribbon is a bit lighter color than the original production.

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Adam-

 

Thanks for posting these. It looks like the stamping on the medals are about the same as well. For me, that's the first FOR EXHIBITION ONLY that I've seen that's stamped; most of the rest have either been hand or machine engraved.

 

Dave


Only a weak society needs government protection or intervention before it pursues its resolve to preserve the truth. Truth needs neither handcuffs nor a badge for its vindication. -Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy

Peace is not the absence of war, but the defense of hard-won freedom. -Anton LaGuardia


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donation2012.gifdonation2013.gifdonation2014.gifdonation2015.gifdonation2016.gif
donation2017.gifdonation2018.gifdonation2019.gifdonation2020.gif

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Thanks for adding to the discussion, Adam. Just FYI, there is an excellent illustration of the Specially Meritorious Service Medal on Plate 63 in Change No.2 to Changes in Uniform Regulations, U.S. Marine Corps, 1922 (dated 6 Sept.,1924). It clearly shows the medal with just a plain reverse, but with an uneven surface finish very similar to your piece.

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For comparison on the impressed lettering, here's a replacement Navy Good Conduct Medal that the Mint produced in the late 1930s or early 40s. The lettering appears identical. I also have a USN Mexican Service Medal with similar impressed lettering on the rim. It was issued as a replacement in January, 1941.

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That would make sense as I would imagine there was a good deal of demand for display boards during and in the years immediately after WWII. Thanks again for contributing.

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My offering for engraving comparisons

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