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Three Different All The Same

Here we have three different medals that are very different and yet also the same. After years of collecting I have come across about half a dozen of this type of military medal but will only use three in the scan. The medals are all very different at first glance from the basic radiant eagle design to the very unique and beautiful designs of the other two. All are different shapes. The medal on the ribbon is what I call a classic design of the First World War era. The second is a locally inspired design featuring a church which was a local landmark somewhere unknown to me. The third is a generic design found on many obverses of locally issued service medals from the First and Second World Wars.

Some similarities of the three medals are that all are bronze and intended to be worn suspended from a ribbon. All three were made circa 1919 and all three have blank reverses with only the makers identification on them. Most local service medal types have reverses with die struck designs and inscriptions stating the issuer and reason for the issue along with a space where the recipient’s name could be engraved. Few medals would have been issued with the intention of engraving the reverse locally. So why are these all the same? I believe that they are salesman’s samples. After WWI an army of salesmen canvassed the country trying to sell the idea of locally issued service medals and since there was no Federal WWI service medal until 1921 these salesmen were very successful. Thousands of different local types exist which is why most collectors limit their collections to only a few states and no one knows for sure how many medals would make up a complete set.