On Our Guard

March 2003, Volume 41 No. 3
It seems that we have stirred up something of a hornets’ nest with the comment last month regarding fakes, forgeries and “copy” medals. We have had numerous messages of support at our stand, a few comments that “nothing can be done so why bother” and a number of readers who have come to us with tales of woe at being “caught out” in the past. One thing that has shocked us is the extent to which this problem has spread. It seems that almost every sphere of medal collecting from Victorian Gallantry to 20th Century campaigns has had experience of fakes and forgeries and sadly they are now being seen as an acceptable risk that must be run. It seems that the majority of the “copy” medals are being produced from one source, and it is most likely this source that provides the legitimate dealers with their stock of replicas, medals they sell as copies to people wishing to complete groups for display purposes, exhibitions etc. Nothing wrong so far. Unfortunately there are a number of other characters on the fringe of the hobby who will happily get these copies aged and named to anyone you like – certainly they will say they are providing a service, filling a gap in the market but we all know that that service leads directly to unwitting purchasers buying these medals as original and genuine and from then on the trouble starts. This is one of the reasons that the OMRS does not approve of copy medals and will have nothing to do with them believing that there is no need whatever for them to be produced as the (very small) market for genuine replacement medals can usually be satisfied by the number of faulty, renamed or name erased medals in existence.

They do not allow the display and sale of copy medals at OMRS Convention, nor do they carry any advertisement for such in the Journal, we will also endeavour to ensure that such advertisements do not appear within the pages of our magazine. We fully accept that dealers do legitimately sell copy medals, and describe them as thus and that certain medals (the higher Gallantry awards specifically) cannot be catered for by “faulty” or erased pieces, meaning that such copies, as found on many dealers stalls or lists are sometimes necessary; however we have also been forced to accept that less scrupulous people are using copies to fool collectors and as such believe that the use of replicas in our hobby must be curtailed.

It is of course up to the manufacturers of these medals to mark them in such a way that collectors, even dealers would not be taken in, after all if you want a medal for a display or even to wear does it matter that it is not identical to the original or, if it is, that it carries a mark indicating it is not authentic? We believe not, we believe any legitimate collector or serviceman looking to replace lost medals or fill a hole would not worry about a small mark identifying the piece as a copy and urge the manufacturers to start marking their medals as such immediately. Unfortunately until they do, and as long as there are other individuals intent on using these replicas to defraud, this will be a problem that will not go away. This being the case the only weapon we have to combat this problem at the moment is knowledge, with that in mind we start a new feature this month that works on the principal of “Forewarned is forearmed”. ON GUARD will seek to tell our readers what to look out for with fakes and forgeries so that they don’t become the latest victims of those intent to destroy our hobby. We hope this won’t become a regular feature, hope that fakes are not so prolific that we are able to fill space describing them every month but if we are so be it. As was said last month this is something that must be stamped out and we, along with any readers who are able to help, will do our best to do so.

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In This Issue

Update14
Special Afghanistan Operations List
Analysing the Honours
Medal Roll16
The army of the Balkans and the Black Sea
Part II MIDs
Forum19
Reforming the British Honours System
A suggested overhaul
Out & About22
The Guards Museum
Our Man visits the oldest Regiments
Feature Article25
Coulson VC
A late Boer War Citation
Postscript29
More on the Abor
The Background to the Action
Insight30
A cover Story
Researching a Long Service medal
Heroes32
Slow Boat to Bari
The Loss of POW ship Sebastiano Veniero

Regulars

The Editorial page5
News and Views6
On Guard9
Market Scene11
Bookshelf35
On Parade36
Readers' Letters37
Medal tracker38
Calendar41
Classified Advertising42
Dealers' Lists45