1 January 2010
I have seen quite a few medals coming on to eBay from the USA, Russia & UK sellers importing them, most of these medals are NEW stamps of old medals or copies. The seller might not tell you when you are bidding that these are copies because of the real value of them they might say " orignal WW2 or WW1 medals or just state that it is from that "era". There are more than several companies in the US who make medals from the ww2 era They are made in the U.S.A. by manufacturers certified by the U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry. & can be bought direct from the US for under £1.50, the main maker on eBay having a mark of G27 on the pin. this company has also been fined by the government of the US for making & selling at random the most prestiges medal from the US the "Medal of Honor" Most of these makers where given the license in the 50s. Dont' forget the old scam of buying a medal adding a box & a death card & saying that they all belonged to this man!! Also watch the POSTAGE mainland UK should be about .70 for a single medal without insurance & maximum of £2.00 with this is another way that eBay sellers make a bigger profit.
An original old medal should have some wear traces, i.e. minor scratches and nicks. These should not be confused with intentional damage to a fake to make it look worn, like large and deep multiple scratches. Many WW2 medals were often polished by their owners to remove tarnish which results in additional even wear. It should be kept in mind that there is always a possibility that an original award was never actually worn or given posthumously to relatives of the recipient, in which case even an old medal will still look brand new and have all the original mint luster present. Remember If in doubt ask your dealer or more experienced collectors.
An important factor in spotting a fake is a patina, or tarnish that develops on silver or gold over the time, much like on your old unpolished silver wear. Original patina will normally be uniform in color and even polished pieces would still display some patina in depressions. Fake patina can be applied chemically (using acids, tarnishing solutions, etc. or a combination there of) or physically (by heating a piece over a butane or gasoline burner). Try heating a coin over a lighter, let it cool, slightly polish with dry cloth and observe the result. Fake patina usually has oily look to it, is darker in color, sometimes almost black, and may be slightly violet in color. It is important to remember that even original pieces may sometimes have artificial patina - a silver medal kept in the same cupboard with iodine solution for many years will develop artificial patina. Remember If in doubt ask your dealer or more experienced collectors.
Many Soviet awards are made with beautiful glass consistency hot backed on enamel. If you are being offered a medal with glue or paint like enamel it is almost certainly a fake, however enamel repairs on older and more expensive awards are quite common. It would be a good idea to get a "black light" - fake enamel or enamel repairs for which colored epoxy glue is usually used will glow. Some fakes manufactured with original enamels will not glow.
A proper document increases value of a medal and the fakers are well aware of it. If an original old award booklet has entries made in new ink you should probably let it go. Be especially careful when purchasing larger documented groups. Testing the ink often requires special services and the good old "q-tip" test in not always reliable. The only guarantee for documentation is a research in the Soviet Military Archives, which many dealers including myself do routinely. This will not however guarantee against manufactured awards to match the documents, so make sure you also look at the awards' serial numbers under magnification.
Hope this helps in this strange world of medal collecting. Search google for a makers list that you might find helpful, there is a list of the american makers who sell cheap medals that make there way on to eBay, best of luck with you new hobby You will need it ;-), Remember if it sounds to good to be true, then it properly is! If you find this guide helpfull then please vote for me ! Thanks