My wife and I just received a set of replacements from Veterans Affairs Canada for the medals awarded to her grandfather for his service during WW2. The replacement medals are slightly different from the various "originals" I have as part of my militaria collection. I am guessing that the replacement medals are of more recent manufacture.
Here are my questions:
Where do the replacement medals come from? They are clearly not 60+ year old originals. Are they made in batches by the Royal Mint for Veterans Affairs? Or are they the same inexpensive "copies" that you see for sale from various dealers, on ebay, etc?
The reason I ask is that I am putting together a memorial display for my wife's grandfather which will become a family heirloom for future generations. I want the display to be as meaningful and legit as possible. I could easily have pieced together a set of "original" campaign medals that duplicated those he was awarded. However, I felt that these medals were not and would never be "his". I felt that the replacement medals are officially "his" as they have been awarded to his name by Veterans Affairs, just as his originals were. They have never belonged to anyone else.
What do you guys think? I don't want to detract from the display by using cheap copies. The replacement medals by Veterans Affairs aren't just "cheap copies" (like the ones found on ebay), are they? Do you agree with me that they would be the best option for the display (rather than a pieced together set of originals that may have belonged to other vets)?
I remember hearing from medal collectors in the 1980s that VAC had a supply of Great War medals that had never been collected and that replacements showed signs of the original name being ground off and the new details added. Perhaps the Second War medals are just ones that were never collected and are being issued as replacements.
As far as the difference from the few "originals" that I own, I did notice that the "loop" at the top of the Stars (Italy Star, F&G Star, etc.) through which the ring for the ribbon passes appears to be larger and rounder than on the original medals I own. The loop at the top of the "original" stars is more oval in shape.
Fear not Craig. I knew a fellow who worked for a summer at the place they make the medals. I posed to him the rumour that they have barrels and barrels of Great War medals that had not been claimed and he told me it wasn't true. They make medals as required. He said every once in a while he would hear the bang bang of the hammer mill and would go in to see what they were striking and it could be DSM's, DFC's or WW1 medals for people like me who got replacment ones. He said they had a few small drawers and made up something like a dozen extra medals whenever they were striking them, but that was all.
So, when you order replacement medals, or do as my Uncle did and apply for medals very very late, they are more or less freshly struck and they are every bit as authentic as the originals.
Now for some medals like CVSM, the common stars and 39-45 medal, etc, they have gone through several sets of dies over the years so you will see differences, minute though they are from the earlier issues, but the differences are slight. The Uncle I mentioned recieved among his other medals, an Aircrew Europe Star that is more or less new, but is indistinguishable from the early issues. Yes, the rings might be bigger but that means nothing.
No, what you have is a perfectly acceptable, valid and worthwhile set of medals. They do issue them with newer, shinier ribbons now days, but the medals you have can be displayed with pride.
Incidentally, my Grandads first war pair replacements cost me something like $7.49 about 20 years ago and they were not engraved. I don't know if that was an oversight or if nobody gets replacements engraved. About 15 years ago, I had another uncle order a replacement set for me, CVSM bar, 39-45 medal, 39-45 star, Atlantic Star (France & Germany bar) and those cost me $106.00.