Wartime Collectables
Military Antiques & Vintage Toys

Andrew H. & Gale V. Lipps
P.O. Box 165
Camden, SC 29021-0165  USA
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A Guide to WWI Federal issue Victory Medals with clasps.
By Andrew H. Lipps

Introduction:
          It is important to note that this is a guide to values based on reported observations of actual medals.  No hypothesis or ‘guestimates’ have been used to determine values of medals not actually noted offered for sale.  Where personal opinion has been added is in using meta-analysis to adjust values of medals that were offered for sale on multiple occasions or where bidding occurred that the author feels was colored by bias on the part of one or more bidders.  By this I mean simply put, that an exorbitant price observed one time on ebay for an otherwise common medal was not included in the valuation range or median.

An aside worth mentioning regards Navy issue WWI Federal Victory medals.  The discovery of a large horde of unissued bars a few years ago has certainly colored that collecting field.  An occurrence such as that cannot be foreseen but as the pile has been absorbed into the collecting community, prices are rising again.

 Valuations:
        Generally speaking a WWI Victory medal is worth about $10-$15, $30-$35 if on a ring suspension, and you can add $10.00 for each clasp or bar added to that in combination of up to five clasps of the standard wartime service clasps   These clasps are...

Aisne, Montdidier-Noyon, Champaigne-Marne, Aisne-Marne, Oise-Aisne, Ypres-Lys, Somme Offensive, Defensive Sector, Meuse-Argonne, and St. Mihiel.  If the medal is in its original issue box titled to the medal with the named clasps you can add another 3/4 to the value, and double the base value if it is in the named mailing box.  Unlike other U.S. decorations it is extremely important to the value of a Victory medal that it have the original ribbon and broach intact.

          Therefore a WWI Victory with standard barrel suspension and three common clasps would sell around 40.00, $60.00 if boxed, and $75.00 if in the original mailing box.

          There are also some unusual and harder to find Army pattern clasps.  Found in combination with other standard clasps or by themselves they add considerably to the value of the standard WWI Victory Medal.  The clasp combination can also play an important role in valuing the medal as the combination can tell you what unit the recipient belonged.  It is impossible to accurately describe or value all of the possible clasp combinations however some further notes follow.

          The scarcer Army pattern clasps possibly found in combination with other bars are... Cambrai, Somme Defensive, and Lys.  Many sources use the figure of 500 as the number of Lys clasps authorized. Observations of existing unit histories, battle credits, and General Orders by medal research Richard Bruhn would indicate the number is far higher, perhaps 2,500.  This would still keep it in the range of one the rarest of clasps but not as few as suspected.

 Other Army clasps found singularly mounted are...

Note: value is for the clasp, on and original to, the standard pattern WWI Federal U.S. Victory medal.

FRANCE $20.00

ENGLAND $75.00

ITALY $125.00

RUSSIA $200.00

SIBERIA $200.00 (The Russia clasp is actually rarer but again collector influence takes effect.)

VITTORIO-VENETO $350.00

 SOME UNUSUAL EXAMPLES:

- 6 Clasp Victory with Cambrai, Somme Defensive, Aisne-Marne, Oise-Aisne, Meuse-Argonne, Defensive Sector.  Unusual to find 6 clasps on one medal, includes two scarcer clasps “Cambrai” & “Somme defensive”.  I.D.ed to 14th Light Railway Engineers.  $200.00

- 3 Clasp Victory with Cambrai, St. Miheil, and Meuse-Argonne. Attributed to 11th Engineers.  Scarce Cambrai clasp and also unusual without the Defensive sector clasp. $150.00

- 5 Clasp Victory with Lys, Ypres-Lys, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne, & Defensive Sector.  Attributed to an officer in the 147th Inf. of the 37th Division.  The LYS clasp is seen as the rarest of the WWI Victory clasps with most sources quoting only 500 issued as opposed to 1,200 of the Vittorio-Veneto clasps or 1,200,000 of the Meuse-Argonne clasps.  I offered this medal in a group but would estimate that it would have sold for $175 if offered as a single.  See note above on the LYS clasp.

 WWI NAVY VICTORY MEDAL CLASPS.  USN clasps have a distinctive ‘rope border’ to the bar.  There are distinct pattern variants of these and beware that reproductions abound!  Navy Clasps are found mounted singly only on the Victory medal and not in combination with other clasps.  A large cache of loose bars were discovered around the year 2000 and the value of unattributed medals was somewhat affected.  Scarcer clasps in verified groups should command a premium.

ARMED GUARD $50.00

ASIATIC $200.00

ATLANTIC FLEET $50.00

AVIATION $200.00

DESTROYER $60.00

ESCORT $35.00

GRAND FLEET $75.00

MINE LAYING $125.00

MINE SWEEPING $125.00

MOBILE BASE $200.00

NAVAL BATTERY $200.00

OVERSEAS $35.00

PATROL $50.00

SALVAGE $200.00

SUB CHASER $125.00

SUBMARINE $200.00

TRANSPORT $35.00

WEST INDIES $150.00

WHITE SEA $200.00

          * Always check the rims of Navy Victory medals, as it was an accepted practice for Navy vets to engrave the rims with their name, rank, and ship.  Such engraving can add 3 to 6 times to the value of the ‘base’ medal depending on the ship and the recipient!

          * "Unofficial" clasps occasinally appear in verified groups.  These were made by George Studley and sold at veterans gatherings.  Values vary and I do not have a comprehensive list.