Tag Archives: medal mounting

Day 207

An unusual day for a number of reasons. I was working on Wednesday, for one thing, and we had a group of medals brought in requiring re-ribboning (not the ones in the picture). The ribbons on a group of medals should be 31.75mm (1.25″) for the Army and slightly longer for the Navy.

In the case of the medals we have in hand, the person who mounted them obviously didn’t have the ribbon for the new Platinum Jubilee Medal so used the piece provided with the medal. This involves cutting the pin brooch that comes attached to the medal and ends up with a shorter length of ribbon than necessary. However, rather than buy a new ribbon, whoever mounted the medals used the short length and then shortened the rest of them to match.

I’m not going to judge – whoever did them might have been doing them as a favour rather than a commercial undertaking. We charge £10 a medal, including cleaning and new ribbons, so we can afford £3 for a new ribbon. If it’s a favour, or you are doing them on the cheap (because, let’s face it, £10 sounds a lot of money to mount a medal, and £30 for a group of three is a considerable outlay), it’s not so easy.

However, you get what you pay for and it goes back to the old Ruskin quote:

“It’s unwise to pay too much…but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot – it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run. And if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better.”

Before batching – Date and Stilton Scones (from a previous recipe post)

It works when buying medal mounting services, running the NHS and buying cheese. Julia bought Dolcelatte today because it was cheaper than Stilton (it’s that cost of living crisis, you know). Dolcelatte has it’s place in the world if you want a tangy blue cheese, but it’s no Stilton.

Another Day in the Shop

I did quite a lot of things this week, but it was mostly boring or requires too much tedious detail to describe it.

This morning I mounted a few medals, having finally remembered to take some cotton to work, and for the rest of the day, with a few stops to serve customers, I prepared things for eBay.

These are the medals – a British War Medal from the Great War that is being given to another member of the family, a Burma Star group mounted for the family and two Ambulance Service medals mounted for someone who embarrassed his family by using safety pins on Remembrance Day.

These are three styles of Second World War sweethearts of the Royal Army Service Corps. The one below is First World War – you can tell this from the fact it’s Army Service Corps, as they weren’t made “Royal” until 1918. It’s also made in WW1 style, using tortoiseshell, which wasn’t popular in WW2.Finally, as you can see, it’s hallmarked for London 1917. That’s why hallmarked silver brooches are always more sought after, as they can be dated precisely.

The marks are an indistinct maker’s mark, a lion passant for Sterling Silver, a leopard’s head for London and a “b” for 1917.

It’s not a bad job when you can spend all day handling things that are also the basis of your hobby. And I get paid…

A New Medal and some Questions from History

Someone brought medals into the shop for mounting last week. Their father has tended not to bother about his wartime service too much and has only just been made aware that the French Government has been giving out the Legion of Honour to veterans who participated in the Liberation of France in 1944-5. He now has his, and has decided to go to France for a memorial event in September. When he does he will be wearing a properly mounted set of medals.

He seems to have had quite an active war, and I don’t begrudge him the medal, but I can’t help thinking that giving someone a medal because he was in a certain country 75 years ago, and has lived long enough to collect it, is slightly devaluing his contribution, and the contributions of many others, including the people who kept the war going in Africa, the Atlantic and the Far East (to mention but a few). I worked with several Normandy veterans in the past, and I’m feeling slightly saddened that they didn’t live long enough to get an extra medal.

If you were at Dunkirk you don’t get it. Same if you were in the RAF flying over France in 1943 but not 1944. Or at Dieppe or St Nazaire.

And that’s before we come to the irony that we were effectively at war with the French from 1940-42. The Vichy French killed a number of British and American troops in that time, and imprisoned others. I’ve always wondered what it must be like for veterans of those attacks to see the French posing as staunch opponents of the Nazis. You would think the least they could do would be to give a medal to our soldiers that they shot at.

Politics and warfare are always more complicated than they look.