Your Guide to Buying World War I Medals on eBay

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Your Guide to Buying World War I Medals on eBay

When it comes to remembering those that fought in World War I there isn’t much that comes close to the medals that were handed out to those who went to the trenches. Each one is individually numbered according to the regiment and it gives the owner a strong sense of affinity with those that were in combat.

The following buying guide will explain the different types of medals, the markings to look out for and how to buy one safely and securely using eBay.

Why Were Medals Awarded in World War I?

Medals were given to servicemen to commemorate service in the First World War. The medals service personnel got depended on the nature of service and where they were stationed. The following section explains the four main types of medal and who was awarded them.

Types of World War I Medal

There were four main classes of medal awarded in World War I and each was given for differing reasons.

The following table gives the name of each medal, why they were awarded, which people were awarded them and any more information that will be useful when buying one.

Medal

Awarded to

Description

1914 Star

Forces that served in France and Belgium between

5 August 1914 and 22/23 November 1914.

  • Approved by government in 1917 and first handed out in April that year.
  • Bright bronze four-pointed star with a height of 50mm and maximum width of 45mm.
  • Design has two crossed swords with the blades pointed upwards and a wreath of oak leaves over them.
  • Royal Cypher of King George VI at the foot of the wreath and an overlay scroll inscribed 1914 across the middle.
  • Reverse features an inscription that details the recipient’s number, rank, name and unit.
  • Ribbon that it rests on is the red, white and blue colours of the French flag.
  • Never awarded alone and always along with the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
  • Anyone that was under fire during the period mentioned was able to wear a clasp inscribed with ‘5TH AUGUST – 22ND NOVEMBER 1914’.
  • Anyone awarded the 1914 Star could not be awarded the 1914-15 Star.
  • 378,000 were awarded in total.

1914-15 Star

Forces that served in any ‘theatre of war’ between

5 August 1914 and 31 December 1915.

  • Approved in 1918.
  • Bright bronze four-pointed star with a height of 50mm and maximum width of 45mm.
  • Design has two crossed swords with the blades pointed upwards and a wreath of oak leaves over them.
  • Royal Cypher of King George VI at the foot of the wreath and an overlay scroll inscribed 1914-15 across the middle.
  • Reverse features an inscription that details the recipient’s number, rank, name and unit.
  • Ribbon that it rests on is the red, white and blue colours of the French flag.
  • Never awarded alone and always along with the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
  • 2,366,000 awarded in total

British War Medal

Members of the forces that completed service between

5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918

  • Approved in 1919
  • Circular Silver (or, rarely, bronze) design with King George V head on one side and the legend GEORGIVS V BRITT. OMN. REX ET IND. IMP. round the edge.
  • The other side features St. George riding naked on horseback. The horse is trampling on a Prussian shield, and skull and crossbones.
  • Ribbon that it hangs from is a wide central watered stripe of orange bordered by white, black then finally blue stripes.
  • Always awarded along with the Victory Medal and either the 1914 Star or 1914-15 Star.
  • 6,500,000 awarded in total.

Victory Medal

Awarded to all Navy, Army and RAF personnel that were mobilised in any ‘theatre of war’ between

5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918

  • Approved in 1919 to commemorate Allied Forces overcoming the Central Powers.
  • Circular copper medal that is lacquered in bronze.
  • One side shows the winged full-length figure of Victory (Victoria) with an outstretched left arm bearing a palm branch.
  • Reverse has the inscription: THE GREAT / WAR FOR / CIVILISATION / 1914-1919.
  • Ribbon is a double rainbow design.
  • If the member of personnel was “Mentioned in Dispatches” between 4 August 1914 and 10 August 1920 there is an oak leaf on the ribbon.
  • Always awarded along with the British War Medal and either the 1914 Star or 1914-15 Star.
  • Over 6,334,522 were awarded.
  • Other countries under the Allied Forces banner awarded the same award to their troops.

Other World War I Medals

There are a number of other lesser-known medals that were awarded during or after World War I. The following table outlines two of the more common ones with a short description alongside them.

Medal

Awarded To

Description

Mercantile Marine War Medal

Anyone that qualified for a British War Medal that could prove they were on a sea voyage that passed through a danger zone.

  • Created in 1919 and handed out by the Board of Trade of the United Kingdom.
  • Circular bronze medal.
  • One side features King George V head and the legend GEORGIVS V BRITT. OMN. REX ET IND. IMP. around the edge.
  • Reverse has a merchant ship travelling through stormy waters, an enemy submarine and a sailing boat in the background, with a wreath around the edge.
  • On the base of the reverse it reads: FOR * WAR * SERVICE / MERCANTILE MARINE / * 1914 - 1918 *.
  • Ribbon is half red, half green with a thin white middle stripe.

Territorial Force War Medal

Members of the British Territorial Force and Territorial Force Nursing Services that served overseas.

  • Instituted in April 1920.
  • Medal is a circular bronze design with straight bar suspender.
  • One side features King George V head and the legend GEORGIVS V BRITT. OMN. REX ET IND. IMP. round the edge.
  • Reverse has a wreath with the following across the centre: FOR / VOLUNTARY / SERVICE / OVERSEAS / 1914-19
  • Around the edge, on the back, it reads: TERRITORIAL WAR MEDAL.
  • Ribbon is yellow with two smaller green stripes equal distances apart.
  • Cannot have qualified for the 1914 Star or 1914-15 Star.
  • Rarest of the medals awarded and only 33,944 were handed out.

How to Buy a World War I Medal from eBay

There is a huge selection of World War I memorabilia available on eBay and the sellers of every item are an invaluable resource when it comes to information.

Some of those selling the items will have been related to the servicemen and women awarded the medals. Others, meanwhile, will be well versed in the sale of World War I Medals and as such are able to offer advice on their purchase.

To find World War I Medals on eBay first go to the Collectables category and scroll down to the Militaria sub-category. Under that choose the More categories option and go to World War I (1914-1918). Once on that page find the Type option on the left and click on Medals & Ribbons.

There are a number of other options that will become available on the left hand side once Medals & Ribbons has been clicked and these include Service and Country/ Organization.

When searching for any piece of war memorabilia on eBay it can be more helpful to use the search option. Buyers can do this by typing search terms into the search box present at the top of any eBay page.

If at any time you’re unsure about item details, don’t hesitate to Ask the Seller a question to find out more. There is even a Buying Tips section that will provide even more help if required.

Once ready to purchase an item, place a Bid, click the Buy it Now button or place your Best Offer. Using PayPal will make sure the transaction is secure and goes through as smoothly as possible.

Safety Considerations When Buying

  • Any memorabilia being bought on eBay will need to be researched meticulously before completing a purchase due to its nature.
  • Checking through the item description carefully is essential and if anything is unclear then it must be taken up with the seller before making a bid.
  • Transaction history is another aspect that must be checked over thoroughly. It’s here that buyers will be able to find out what the seller has done on eBay in the past. Any negative feedback should be carefully examined and anything that you’re unsure about, don’t hesitate to Ask the Seller.
  • Another thing to watch out for is eBay sellers that have no feedback on their profile. If none is present it’s another reason to have a careful look over everything again before completing a purchase.
  • Before placing a bid read through the conditions of sale a number of times and if there’s anything that looks untoward then use the Ask the Seller option.

Conclusion

World War I Medals are among the most poignant pieces of memorabilia that can be bought and often have a story attached to them. There are a number of factors that must be taken into consideration before buying, and these include:

  • What type of medal do you want to buy?
  • Have you checked that it’s authentic and not a reproduction?
  • What condition is it in?

None of these options should in anyway limit what you search for and the decision always rest with you, the buyer.

Once ready to pay for an item, remember to use PayPal to complete the transaction so as to make sure everything goes through smoothly.

 
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