Happen to Have $250k for a “Rare” 1775 Medal?


Having a sense of humor is a good thing for those of you who have served (or are serving) in uniform. You understand the necessity…no…the requirement of possessing the invaluable ability to laugh at humorous situations but also actions, activities, operations or events that are FUBAR (you can look that term up if you don’t already know the definition). With regards to militaria collecting, sarcasm, eye-rolling, head-shaking and bursting forth with gut-shaking laughter helps to keep things in proper perspective, especially when one stumbles upon situations like the following.

I know that many, if not most of the people reading this have little or no background covering the history of the United States military medals and decorations. In order to provide some sort of baseline which will then help you to either laugh, roll your eyes or shake your head in disbelief with some measure of authority, I will provide brief history lesson. I won’t go into great detail with the intricacies and extremely specific minutiae so (for those you who are OMSA members) give me a little latitude as I provide a “Reader’s Digest” version.

Fidelity Medallion

The Fidelity Medallion was authorized by Congress in 1780 and awarded to three soldiers of the Continental Army.

Prior to the Declaration of Independence and the subsequent military action taken by the rebellious colonists of North America, awards and decorations were a tradition of European militaries predominantly awarded to the senior military leaders and heads of state to commemorate victorious aspects of their illustrious careers. For the first five years of the Revolution, no decoration existed for men who served in the Continental Army or Navy as, it would seem that winning independence from the tyrannical British rule would be enough (aside from being paid for service) to risk life and limb.

Badge for Military Merit

Presented by General Washington, the Badge for Military Merit was awarded to at least three army soldiers.

It wasn’t until 1780 that Congress enacted the very first decoration, the Fidelity Medal, which was awarded to three specific militiamen (John Paulding, Isaac Van Wart and David Williams) who captured British intelligence officer, Major John Andre’ (who was assisting Benedict Arnold in his treasonous act). Aside from a few Congressional actions taken to award medals to General George Washington (1776), General Horatio Gates (1777) and General Henry Lee (1779), the first medal awarded to soldiers was initiated by the issuance of a field order by General Washington on August 7, 1782 establishing the Badge of Military Merit. There is some debate as to the number of recipients of the Badge of Military Merit (the predecessor of the Purple Heart medal), but there were very few soldiers to have it bestowed upon them (as few as three).

Medal for Certificate of Merit

In 1905, Congress approved an act that created a medal for the Certificate of Merit.

Another military decoration wouldn’t be awarded for 65 years when the Certificate of Merit (officially recognized with a medal in 1905) was enacted by Congress during the Mexican-American war, in 1847 and re-established during the Indian Wars in the second-half of the nineteenth century.

1864 ACW Navy Type 1 MoH

This Navy Type 1 Civil War-era Medal of Honor was presented in 1864 (source: Naval History & Heritage Command).

The most notable American military decoration, the Medal of Honor, was established during the Civil War with the first official presentation taking place on March 25, 1863 decorating six Union Army soldiers with the medal. From the Civil War on through World War II, the process of enacting, creating, managing and awarding military decorations was a process that required developing and maturing as awards manuals and official procedures and precedents were established. For military novices, online resources are quite plentiful and very useful for learning how to determine the identity of a specific decoration and it’s potential collector demand and subsequent value. Now that I have presented all of this information, it is my hope that you see the humor in the remainder of this article.

Army Achievement Medal - 1981

The Army Achievement Medal was established in 1981 and is awarded for outstanding achievement or meritorious service.

In 1961, the Navy Department established a medal to recognize individual, meritorious achievements that were not commensurate with the criteria of the Navy Commendation medal. In 1981, the Army (and Air Force) followed suit with their own achievement medals.

The design of the Army Achievement medal obverse is somewhat generic as it depicts the official U.S. Army seal along with the year the Continental Army was established (1775). The reverse of pendant simply states, “For Military Achievement.”

In a recent online auction listing, a seller listed a military decoration and titled it  “1775 medal” and listed it as an Original Period militaria Item from the Revolutionary War (1775-83). The photo of the medal showed it as a set (ribbon device, lapel pin, miniature and full sized medals) in the current-issue plastic presentation case. One could suppose that the seller simply mis-categorized the listing and perhaps, mistyped the auction title. These sorts of mistakes are quite common occurrences. However, this story doesn’t end with a simple mistake.

Auction Screen shot

This auction is humorous regardless if the seller believes the medal is 240 years old or simply being sarcastic (source: eBay screenshot).

Reviewing the 1775 medal auction description and price, it should become readily apparent that the seller is either out of his or her element, seeking to deceive a potential buyer or having some fun with an online auction listing. The seller states in the text, “1775 military achievement award complete set asking 200,000 worth 350.000 (sic).” Fortunately for potential buyers, the seller provided an option to buy it now for $250k, splitting the difference between the starting bid and the (stated) value.

Auction Listing Description

Either the seller thinks this medal is only worth $350 but is selling it for a mere $200k or potential buyers can save as much as $150k submitting his minimum bid (source: eBay screenshot).

Not one to make accusations as to the seller’s intentions, I choose to instead, laugh and enjoy the antics routinely experienced in the world of online auctions. For the record, if a collector is seeking to purchase an Army Achievement medal set, look to pay in the neighborhood of  $20-40.

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Posted on April 22, 2013, in Medals, Military Era, Revolutionary War, Ribbons, World War II and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I have the medal of the revolution war in 1775 of the United States of América, is the bigger because the little is not in the Cage.But I don’t know if is real,we found it in a big old Cage of our family.You can recommend some place in Puerto Rico to verificade it.

    • The medal isn’t a Revolutionary war medal. It is very common (it is the Army Achievement Medal) and has more sentimental value over monetary.

      My post about this was more tongue-in-cheek as the seller has no understanding of the medal and made some very broad assumptions as they listed it for $250k.

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