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USMC Honorable Discharge lapel button with serial number


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I've had this Marine Corps Honorable Discharge lapel button for a long time and never gave it much thought but after doing a little research it appears the serial number on the back is a bit unusual? Does this show that it was an early example? This is pretty far from my wheelhouse and figured I should try to learn more about it before just passing it along!

20210620_192330.jpg

20210620_192351.jpg

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mars&thunder

Don't know much about these, but I've seen an entry in the Marine Corps Muster Rolls from August 1918 in which a Marine was discharged at end of enlistment. It notes his Good Conduct Medal and also discharge button. The number on the medal and the button were not related. The discharge button he was issued was #2843 so if these things were issued in numeric order, yours would be a little before that date (but not much - no more than a month or two). No idea how long they numbered them.

 

 

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Thank you, very interesting! I'd think that at the end of the war with thousands of Marines being discharged serial numbering wouldn't be practical. 

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mars&thunder

Did a little more poking around. The Honorable Discharge Button (HDB) was authorized by Marine Corps General Order 33 dated Oct 25, 1916, so distribution began in that month. It is noted as being a numbered button. Another reference pointed to the date Oct 2, 1916 as the date before which buttons were not issued (although a person honorably discharged before that date could make application for a button and receive one for the sum or 75 cents). Not sure why the dates differ - 25th vs 2nd - maybe one is a typo.? The December 19, 1918 issue of the Official Bulletin on page 14 invites sealed proposals for 50,000 Marine Corps Honorable Discharge Buttons, bids to be opened on Dec 26. I would bet that these were not numbered when manufactured. The muster rolls are very spotty in recording the issue of the HDB. I poked at a few and saw issue of HDB#3579 in Dec 1918. The issues seem to be in generally numeric order based upon date of discharge. These all seem to have gone to regular Marines serving a 4 year enlistment. Later I see the rules changed to allow HDB's to Marine reserves who served 3 months or more active duty - I suspect the 50,000 button purchase order was probably meant to account for all those folks and also the enlistment for duration of war guys (whom I assume got one), but that's just me theorizing. That's probably as far as I can take this so other interested parties are welcome to jump in. I'm not a Marine Corps knowledgeable collector - just a research junkie.

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I never knew these buttons dated back to 1916 - I'll have to pay more attention to them now! 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Very early ones were numbered...sometimes the number was recorded in service records, but not always. I don't think I've seen any with more than 4 numbers on the back. The numbered ones turn up very rarely...they don't sell for a whole lot more, but they are certainly much more uncommon. I have two numbered examples myself.

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