Over the years I have seen a lot of local issue WWI service medals offered for sale. During the last few years they seem to be getting some very high prices especially the Wisconsin medals on the eBay site. What is really shocking is that many of these so-called WWI service medals are really just souvenir welcome home celebration type medals which in my mind are not nearly as desirable as the actual WWI service medals issued by the same towns. The high prices are a bit more understandable when the welcome home medal is from a town that did not issue a regular WWI service medal but even so, it is still only a souvenir medal. So what is the difference? An actual local WWI service medal is a medal issued by a state, city, county or private organization to be given only to actual veterans. To get the medal one had to have served in the military during the First World War. These medals almost always have an inscription with the words “Presented by …”. On the other hand the welcome home celebration type medals almost always have words like “welcome home celebration” or “souvenir” in their inscriptions and though these medals may have been given to the veterans being honored they were also sold to any one and every one in order to raise the money needed fund the celebration. Illustrated below are two examples from Ashland, Wisconsin, a city on the cold shores of Lake Superior. The cross shaped medal is the actual veterans only version while the shield shaped medal which is a ribbon-less pin back, is the welcome home celebration medal.
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