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    fred j borgmann

    Civilian Medals: An Unexplored Field

    I began collecting these medals as a more interesting way to invest in precious metals. Researching these medals proved to be fairly interesting and reflected the quiet heroism of responsible hard working people who labored for decades without any other recognition.
    What follows is just one example.

    National Liberty Insurance Company of America Medals
    by Fred J. Borgmann
    Rarely will a collector find a medals that touch on as many different Historical topics as these do. To begin with starting back in the 1830’s the numerous large American city fires made fire insurance the primary insurance product. As a result most insurance companies were Fire Insurance Companies. After a large fire like the Chicago fire many of these companies failed, so public trust also became a major issue. In 1848 a wave of un-successful revolutions swept Europe leading to a flood of refugees immigrating to America. The largest group of these new Americans were the Germans. When it came to fire insurance who could they trust? No one, so they established their own companies one of which in 1859 was the Germania Fire Insurance Company of New York City. Things went very well for the honest well run company for over fifty years until 1917 when the US entered in to the First World War and the name Germania became economic poison. Therefore in 1917 the company name was changed to the National Liberty Insurance Company of America. In 1930 The Home Insurance Company bought control of the National Liberty Company adding it to their stable of thirty insurance companies under it’s unchanged name until the end of the 1940’s. During their eighty plus years the company issued some interesting long service medals.

    For ten or more years a copper medal (18.24grams) with “R K“ (Rolled Gold) cladding on both sides was issued featuring the old Germania design style of an allegorical woman on the left and a torch on the right. The oval center on the obverse is where the recipient’s name is engraved. The similar design on the reverse has the company name.

    If the recipient served for fifteen or twenty years the same type of medal was issued with the addition of one silver star for every five additional years. Therefore a medal with two stars (18.99 grams) indicates twenty years of service.

    Twenty-five years of service earned the recipient a 10k gold medal (18.36 grams)with the same design as the ten year medal. It would be logical to expect that versions with one or two silver star attachments exist for thirty or thirty-five years of service.

    As time went on the price of gold rose from $20 per ounce to $32 possibly causing the company to replace the gold medal with a massive 56 mm sterling silver medal weighing 80.6 grams and containing 2.3966 ounces of actual silver.

    It is interesting to note that the older ten through twenty-five year golden medals were inscribed for “faithful service” while the more modern silver version has “Twenty five Years Continuous Representation”. If taken literally this would mean that actual employees received golden medals while sales associates got the silver.

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