May 9, 2019 at 1:23 am #37578
I’m an Italian collector of orders and decorations; my interests are focused on the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and the awards generally given for valour and gallantry in time of war.
Early in April, at a show held in Germany, I’ve met a fellow collector who usually has interesting awards for trade: this time, he showed me an early, US Medal of Honor, with the ribbon of the 1896-1903/4 type; a beautiful piece with Paquet’s signature, although unnamed. We’ve quickly found an Agreement and the medal was added to my collection. He told me that from the same collection there was a further piece, but he omitted to take it to the show, but I had the opportunity to see a few pictures of it at least.
We met again at the Milan show “Militalia” on the past weekend and had the opportunity to see and acquire also this second Medal of Honor.
Not a Civil War piece from Bull Run or Gettysburg, or deserved on the field of any other famous battle, or from the Indian Wars… just a 27th Maine Vols. piece, named to Samuel S. Smith, “E” Company.
Smith is present in the Regiment’s roll, but not in col. Wentworth’s list of those eligible for the MoH. I assume that this medal is one of those col. Wentworth kept in the case, stored in his barn, later plundered by unknown people, shortly after the colonel’s death.
The strange story of the 27th Maine’s Medals of Honor is in my opinion interesting, although no act of gallantry is connected to any of the namings.
My question is: how could be considered these medals? Both of early type, official strikings, one unnamed and one officially given by the Secretary of Defense, but never consigned to the recipient and, in 1917, withdrawn/erased from the Roll of Honor.
Are they both “illegal” in the USA?
By the way, I also possess the Purple Heart named to General Eric K. Shinseki, presented to my late father (then a ret. Lieut. General, Italian Army), when the U.S. Officer was on duty at FTASE, Verona, on Sept. 4th, 1990. I presume that also this piece would be impossible to be taken to the US.
I am more than happy with the two Medals of Honor: it is a beautiful medal; its all-bronze manufacure and low-profile appearance, besides the historical significance, puts it on the same level as the British Victoria Cross
EnzoDecember 2, 2019 at 11:35 am #38286
A US Medal of Honor is legal to possess in the US, but not legal to sell, trade, or pretend that it was awarded to you.
Sometimes the government will confiscate one if they feel it was stolen or otherwise acquired improperly. I would suspect that the medals you have might be subject to confiscation based on the information you provided. Much in the same way as the US Government confiscated a 1933 $20 gold piece some years ago. It is unfortunate, but I would not bring them in the US, and they certainly can no longer be legally sold here. American history lost overseas forever.
I loved the story of the Shinseki Purple Heart. He was awarded two during Vietnam. I would make sure your father documents the gift, and possibly you could get Gen. Shinseki to write a letter as well. That provenance would be very valuable to future generations. The Purple Hear can still be legally bought and sold in the US. You just cannot try to pass one off as your own.December 15, 2019 at 9:20 am #38366
Note that it is legal to sell a Medal of Honor to a genuine museum in the USA, the one exception to the ‘no trading’ rule.
I acted as intermediary in such a sale once, and the museum in question fell over itself to prove their eligbility to purchase the medal (from an European collector).
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