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Collecting by Initials

There are times that coin collecting, when compared military medal collecting looks down right easy. Most coins carry all the information one needs to catalog them. The what, where and when questions are all answered by the information spelled out on the coin. Military medals however may present some serious challenges to the collector. Often only a coat of arms or emblem identifies the issuer or purpose and the legends if any are reduced to only initials. Case in point is this medal issued in 1905. The obverse has an old cannon, flags and an eagle. The flags are the stars and stripes so the medal is obviously American. Above is the legend: Battery “A” and below are the initials N. G. M. The reverse has an engraved monogram and the date 1905. The monogram must be the initials of a member of Battery A which was a National Guard unit as evidenced by the N and G of the NGM. M would be the first letter of the state name and there are eight states with M names just to make things interesting. What makes this piece unusual is that the state name follows the words National Guard instead of preceding them. As far as I could find there was only one state that regularly used this name combination on their medals back at the turn of the century and that state was Missouri. With that in mind my research efforts turned up an article published by the Missouri Historical Society in 1903 with the title “A History Of Battery “A” Of St. Louis”. This extensive history went back as far as the War of 1812. So if you are going to collect military medals you will also become a historian and researcher