Medals and Badges - Fakes and Copies

Having been a collector of medals and badges to The Royal Canadian Regiment for a few years, I have come across numerous mentions and discussions among collectors regarding the proliferation of fakes and copies in their areas of interest.  While I would not claim to be sufficiently knowledgeable outside my own small niche, the scope of experience and knowledge available to assist collectors is surprising.  The following links to pages discussing fakes and copies are offered for reference, and I encourage you to explore the parent sites in detail as well.

Fake Memorial Plaque (Ernest Edward Smith), a page at North East Medals

A Fake Distinguished Service Medal, by Ian R. Hartley

The Air Crew Europe Star; an original and a copy compared, a page at North East Medals

The naming of British war medals, a page at North East Medals

Fakes Produced by the Electroplating Process, published in:

"The collecting and study of orders, decorations, and medals is an interdisciplinary enterprise that requires some knowledge of history, art and numismatics pertaining to fakes is especially important. Some fakes are easy to spot, but others are so deceptive only an expert on the award in question can see through the fraud. Among the most deceptive fakes are those produced by the electroplating process; however, these fakes can often be detected by collectors who have no particular award expertise but do know how they were made." - The Journal of the Orders and Medals Society of America", volume 51, number 4

Medal Collecting - Part 1: Getting Started, by Roy Bassett

Military Badge Collecting - Introduction, by Philip McDowell

Fake Medals - The following is recovered from a cached copy of a page originally published on the website (which appears to be off line at the time of this page creation):

"The serious issue of fake medals, whether they are reproductions or original pieces altered to give the appearance they are something they are not, is a major headache and minefield for collectors. The best way to spot fakes is to become used to dealing with and handling original medals from private collections or at dealer’s shops. This way you will get a feel for the item and you may spot things which seem odd or out of place. The collector should be particularly beware of re-named medals or un-named medals being later named and clasps that have been added to a medal to make them seem more desirable.

"Medals will be encountered that show signs of re-naming, that is the original name on the rim being removed and a new name impressed or engraved over the top. This happens usually through one of two ways. The first is where a recipient of a medal loses his own and purchases a replacement from a pawnbroker or other source and has his name stamped or engraved over the original. These are seen by some collectors as acceptable (though reduce the value somewhat) and need to be verified to a medal roll to ensure entitlement, while other collectors steer clear of them. The second is where medals have been altered by people to falsely increase their value and deceive the collector, i.e. re-named to a rare or distinguished regiment which attracts higher prices (such as a Crimean War Medal named to a member of the Light Brigade or a South Africa Medal to a man who died at the battle of Isandhlwana). Re-named medals can often be spotted by looking at the profile or cross section of the lower rim which may appear thinner than other areas of the medal where the metal has been removed along with the original naming.

"Another (and harder to spot) problem with naming is where medals, like the Baltic Medal or the Crimean Medal, that were issued un-named are later named to rare units by fakers. The Baltic Medal for example was issued almost exclusively to the Royal Navy who rarely named their medals at that time. However about 100 where issued to the Royal Sappers and Miners (Royal Engineers) which were officially named and so demand high prices at auction. Many of these un-named Baltic Medals have in past years been falsely named to those of the Royal Sappers and Miners and are hard to spot as fakes because of the fact the medal is original and no renaming over the top of a previous recipient has occurred. Here the collector has to examine the style of the naming and ask himself, is it in the correct type of script used at the time for this medal? Should the naming be impressed or engraved? Are all the letters correct and the same as on other known genuine examples? It should be noted that un-named medals were often privately engraved by the recipient and so styles can vary a great deal but are still genuine awards.

"Clasps are also a problem and have been targeted by fakers. Many medals may have been issued without clasps although clasps have been authorized for that particular medal. Here the fakers add clasps; sometimes genuine clasps obtained from say damaged medals or fake clasps ranging from poorly made to almost perfect copies, thus raising the value of the medal. Sometimes it may seem obvious that clasps have been added later to the medal after its original award with signs of crude rivets. However even here the clasp may actually be genuine with them being correctly awarded and later added while the soldier is serving abroad in say India where the workmanship was of a lower quality than in Britain. Again this is a minefield but verifying the award to a medal roll will help the collector see whether the recipient was entitled to the clasps or not."

Great Canadian Memoribilia Fakes, including linked pages for badges, medals and other military memoribilia.

See also: