You might think that after 100 years, the medal collecting community would have noted and recorded the various World War I service medals issued by various towns.  However, there are always a few that get overlooked and this is one of those issues.

Penfield, New York, a suburb of Rochester, only had a population of 2,087 people in 1920, so its veterans wouldn’t even constitute an infantry company. The town still wished to recognize the service of its veterans, but probably did not wish to appropriate the money necessary to have a set of dies cut for a service medal. Bastian Brothers, a Rochester company known for its jewelry and medallic products, sold a generic medal for patriotic service. The town administrator’s bought this design and had Bastian Brothers impress the reverse with “Penfield, NY/August 23, 1919” (the date probably representing the date the medal was awarded to local veterans). The recipient’s name was also hand-engraved on the reverse of the top bar. In this case, the veteran is James H. Schlesig, who served with the 502nd Engineer Regiment in France.

So, even after a century, there are still discoveries to be made.

3 Comments
  1. The reverse of the Penfield, NY, WWI Service Medal

  2. I just found this exact medal in a box of awards that I inherited from my grandmother years ago,I think it was her fathers. It is engraved G L McGowan. Is this a rare or valuable find?

  3. It’s likely that fewer than 100 medals were struck for Penfield’s veterans, so relatively rare in the collector market. The only one I know of in the market sold earlier this year for $65.

    Glenn L. McGowan enlisted 1 May 1917 and served with the 2nd Cavalry, one of the few American units to serve in France as horse cavalry. He was overseas from 10 May 1918 through 29 June 1919.

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