A Guide to WWI Federal issue
Victory Medals with clasps.
By Andrew H. Lipps
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.
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
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
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
(The Russia clasp is actually rarer but again collector influence takes
- 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
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
GRAND FLEET $75.00
SUB CHASER $125.00
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.