Below are assorted images of American medals illustrating original period naming & numbering styles. The attempt is more a photo essay than text.
US Army Campaign medal No. prefix numbering
US Army Campaign medal M.No. prefix numbering.
Medal with numbered matching box
Plain numbering on campaign medals
Army Civil War Campaign Medal
In 1908 the U.S. Navy established the awarding of campaign medals for USN & USMC service. The Army had chosen the U.S. Mint to produce its medals, the Navy contracted with Bailey, Banks & Biddle of Philadelphia. The campaign medals have a common reverse the title “United States Navy” or “United States Marine Corps” an eagle & anchor motif and curved title "For Service". These awards were numbered on the rim at 6:00.
US Navy Civil War Campaign medal numbering and rim engraving. Officially done by order of the Navy. Typically slanted capitals done on either side of the number.
Impressed naming on a Sampson medal
Navy Specially Meritorious Service Medal
USMC Good Conduct Medal engraving
1930's Purple Heart hand engraved naming as issued to WWI (and earlier) recipients.
1930's Silver Star hand engraved naming as issued to WWI & pre-war recipients.
Numbered rim of a Purple Heart
Numbered rim of a Silver Star
Numbered rim of a WWI issue Distinguished Service Cross
WWI Purple Heart 1932 issue; the medal, shipping box, and medal box.
WWI Purple Heart issued in 1942
Treasury Silver Lifesaving Medal
WWII Purple Heart rim number
WWII Air Medal, numbered broach, msall numbers
Typical WWII US Army hand engraved medals.
Slanted italics hand engraving, typical for WWII Silver Stars, Legion of Merits & Bronze Stars.
Similar naming on a WWII Army DSM
Army Soldier's medal awarded to Navy recipient
Pantagraph naming usually seen on Good Conducts and some Purple Hearts
An engraved WWII Distinguished Service Medal & Legion of Merit pair
Legion of Merit, WWII
Below shows circa 1948 pattern script engraving as seen on awards sent out shortly after the wars end such as CIB conversion Bronze Stars, late war MIA's, and WIA medals applied for after the vet was discharged.
Numbered broach on an Air Medal
Early WWII pattern official USN engraving.
USN Silver Star / Purple Heart pair
Later war USN engraving
WWII USMC engraving
Korean War Silver Star
Post Vietnam USCG awards