How to date an US medal ?

This topic contains 12 replies, has 7,497 voices, and was last updated by  felix 3 years, 2 months ago.

Viewing 13 posts - 1 through 13 (of 13 total)
  • Author
  • #12170


    How is it possible ? By the brooch ? Makers marks ? Anything else ?

    Some examples :

    Full wrap brooch (20’s to 40’s ?)

    Slot brooch (40’s ?)

    Not sewn slot brooch (late 40’s)

    Crimp brooch (40’s to today ?)

    Modern crimp brooch ?



    Makers marks

    Directly on the rim or the medal (50’s to 70’s ?), here for Volupte inc.

    On the brooch (70’s to today ?)

    Full name

    Code (G27 for Graco, Texas)

    Full name with "GI"



    Nobody know ?



    Let me chime in here as founder and original owner of Graco Awards. The brooch can be used to somewhat accurately determine the of manufacture of any medal. There is no way to really accurately date a medal’s date of manufacture by the brooch. Here are several reasons why:

    1. When they are ordered on a military contract for Defense Supply Center, the specification calls for a particular brooch to be used. If a manufacturer has another type on hand, they can apply for a variance in the contract to allow the older parts to be used up.

    2. Many medals are ordered from local supply activities by individual units and organizations today, rather then being ordered from the depot. In this case, the local suppliers may sell old stock, new stock, or a combination of items. For example, a military unit can use their credit card to order medals from Bubba’s Army Surplus outside the main gate, and Bubba can then order medals, ribbons, and lapel pins from any supplier who has them in stock, package them in boxes Bubba has laying around the shop, and sell them to the military unit.

    3. Units can order medals directly from a legitimate manufacturer such as Graco Awards, who can use any components that they might have in stock. This could allow the use of older styles of brooches or boxes or other components.

    4. As far as the award date, consider this. The military depot doesn’t always issue items on a first-in, first-out basis. Medals may sit on their shelf for many years before being issued out to units. I can recall my time in the Air Force when our unit, in the 1970’s period, was sent decorations in the black WWII boxes, for current issue. So at least for award date, there’s no way to accurately determine a date.




    I think that is the case for the first issue of the Air force good conduct medal in 1963 who were made with a slot brooch.
    Is it possible that the manufacturer used an old stock of Army GCM (as the pendant is the same) to made them, or the Air Force decided for saving money to upgrade his old stock of Army GCM just by reribboned them ?



    There is no way the AF would have the means or ability to reribbon medals. Any unusable medals go straight into the rubbish can. The AF GCM was a new contract, duly noted on the box end, May 1963 inspection/acceptance date.

    Here’s some information on box dates. When a contract is issued, it may be for a number of monthly delivery dates, ranging from a single delivery in the case of a small contract, to deliveries spaced monthly over several years. The contract date is the date the contract is signed. The boxes should be marked with the actual date of of the medals (or other items), which is not necessarily the date of manufacture nor the date of delivery. Then after inspection, if the medals pass inspection, there is an acceptance date by a government inspector. A contract might be signed in June of 1963, with deliveries scheduled to start in May 1963 and be scheduled over 48 months, so each lot of medals inspected may have a different date. One lot of medals might not all be shipped at one time, but be spaced out over several months, but yet they may all have the same inspection and acceptance date.

    Don’t confuse the inspection and acceptance date with a contact date nor a manufacture date. It does get confusing.




    If I unterstood, the 6/91 date on the box is for the acceptance of the lot ?

    Is the "A" before the date for acceptance ? (on some boxes, you can find "A/B")

    On this WWII victory medal, it is the date of the contract ?

    On this Vietnam medal box, there is no date at all



    To answer your questions in order:

    (A) SW Asia Service: 6/91 is the date of acceptance of the initial lot of medals. The same date was used on subsequent lots in order to achieve the lowest price in printing the cartons, all the same date. The A is the packing level of the medals, which has to do with contact packaging. Too complex to deal with here but it’s not an acceptance date. Packing levels can be A, B, or C.

    (B) WW II Victory Medal: The date is the date of the Quartermaster requisition used in ordering the medals.

    (C) Vietnam Service Medal: That’s maybe a goof, should have been a date, unless the contracting office was in a rush and ordered them on a commercial order which did not require an acceptance mark. This would be equal to ordering medals not on a competitive bid but just picking up the phone and ordering from a company. Send us X number of medals and we’ll pay Y dollars each.



    Very informative thread here. Thanks.



    Thanks a lot !

    Vietnam Service Medal: That’s maybe a goof, should have been a date, unless the contracting office was in a rush and ordered them on a commercial order which did not require an acceptance mark. This would be equal to ordering medals not on a competitive bid but just picking up the phone and ordering from a company. Send us X number of medals and we’ll pay Y dollars each.

    I have several boxed medals that are not dated.

    You must be logged in to view attached files.

    ed muller

    I have an answer to the DSA 100-4410 contract number issue. Ebay has a page to assist in understanding contract numbers for DSA/DLA/SPO. Here is a link to their explanation page: … 791/g.html

    Their explanation is correct for 62 – 67 but by 1969 DSA was using a two digit Fiscal Year (FY) number in its contracts, not a three digit number as explained by Ebay

    More information than you want to know follows:

    DSA the Defense Supply Agency was established in 1962 (January 1)to consolidate procurement across the military services. They bought items comment to all the services (like medals). DSA had various centers to deal with various types of products, Food, Clothing at the Defense Personnel Support Center (DSPC – now DLA Troop Support) in Philadelphia (the old Philadelphia quartermaster’s office). , Fuel at the Defense Fuel Supply Center (DFSC – now DLA Energy at Ft. Belvoir) in Alexandria Va, etc. DPSC is the one that wrote contracts for medals. Their office serial number was 1, later expanded to 100 as explained on the Ebay page.

    If you have a box with DSA it dates from 1962 – 1977. On January 1, 1977 DSA was transformed into DLA (the Defense Logistics Agency) The contracts retained the same numbering with 100 still representing DPSC. Eventhough I am not certain the date that DLA changed its contract numbering to SPO, it appears to have retained the same number sequence so you can sill tell the contract Fiscal Year by the contract number.

    The next two numbers represent the Fiscal Year. The fiscal years cross calendar years. The fiscal year begins October 1, but used to begin July 1. There was a 15 month year during 1976 (actually a "transitional" quarter from July to September.) SO before 1976 all fiscal years began the previous July 1.

    The next letter represents the type of contract, C = Contract, D = a contract with Delivery Orders, and so forth.

    The final four digits are the serial number of the contract for that fiscal year.

    This together with the information from Ebay will assist in dating "contracts" but as medal guy said not actual manufacture or issuance.

    So to the question 100-4410 or 100-4411, they were issued by DPSC (the 100) but do not have a two or three digit suffix only a four digit serial number so they would appear to date to FY66. Makes sense for Vietnam medals. Long explanation to a short question but its all here now.


    ed muller

    We have now answered post 1962. Moving a little earlier there was a box in post 10 to this string that had an FSN (Federal Stock Number). They were instituted in 1957 and remained in effect until 1974 when they were replaced by an National Stock Number (NSN). The NSN was the same as the FSN except two digits were added as a "country code after the first four digits. The US added "00"

    So back to that box with the FSN. It has no contract number but with an FSN must date from 1957-1962, because after that date it should have a DSA or other contract number.

    It will take a little more research to close the loop with the boxes that have 71-m xxx-something, because that appears to be the stock number of the individual medal.




    Hi All,
    I have a related question. In the case of the early style Navy boxes (manufactured in bright colors with the title printed on the top), is there a particular kind of broach associated with that type of box? In other words, is it possible to find a crimp broach ribbon on a medal in one of those type boxes? My understanding was that those type boxes were pre-WWII, which would probably be more like to house a medal with a slot broach or earlier form. This is a new area for me so any thoughts would be appreciated..

Viewing 13 posts - 1 through 13 (of 13 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.


Join now to start taking advantage of the member benefits including the Journal of the Orders and Medals Society, Ribbon Bank, Library, Annual Conventions, Publication Program and much more!
Join Now!

Site Login