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Collecting British Military Medals Guide – Updated 23 03 2023

British Military medals have always been my personal passion and I was fascinated by them from a very early age and seeing my Father wear his medals on Public Duties in Scarlet Tunic and watching him working on medal sets as a Master Tailor in the Grenadier Guards he was always getting medal sets to clean and court mount.

I was always asking him “what’s that one ?” and “what campaign did they get that one for ?” Which he always told me the names of. Eventually one day after asking him for the 100th time he turned around and gave me his Medal Yearbook and said "son you find out",  (It was the India General Service Medal 1908-1935). Hopefully I can pass on some information in this guide.

We have created a guide to collecting military medals which we hope will be useful for both new and current collectors of British Military Medals .  This will hopefully help in identifying what to look for when buying original medals (or any other military medal) including World War 1 and World War 2 full size medals as well as a brief overview of replacement, replica and miniature medals.

The main types of British Military medals are –

British Full Size Original Medals - Full size medals are normally named as issued with engraving on the bottom rim or reverse side in the case of Gallantry Crosses such as Military Cross and have the old issued original ribbons on them and for the higher value medals can come with paperwork such as medal roll or entitlement papers and if you’re lucky the original box of issue.

Medals issued for World War 2 Campaigns to British units were never engraved this may be due to the large numbers involved so don’t be surprised if there are no engraving on them. Some veterans have had their details put on them but they were not issued to British units like this although they were issued engraved to Commonwealth forces such as Indian, Australian, New Zealand and Canadians.

Full Size Original medals come in all kinds of conditions depending on the age and how well they have been looked after and kept. These are graded ranging in conditions. Mint condition is brand new and there are others like GVF (Good Very Fine) and GF (Good Fine) for full grading details please see our Medal grading section which is also the same way Miniature Contemporary Medals are graded.

For new collectors starting an interest in full size medals the World War 2 Original medals are a great way to start and still inexpensive (apart from the Air Crew Europe Medal).

British Full Size Replacement Medals - Are the closest to original medals as you can get as they are made from the same metal and same manufacturer and also have original medal ribbons. Although un-named they are normally under £60.00 pounds and can be engraved like original medals and are intended to replace lost or stolen medals and are worn by serving and Ex-Servicemen and Women. These in most cases have in tiny letters on the reverse side either copy or r on the top or back bar, this is the law and discourages duplicate medals for the same name and campaign appearing. These are purchased when medals have been lost or stolen or duplicate sets for families wanting to have more than 1 set.

Full Size Museum Standard Copy Medals or sometimes incorrectly called replicas. These are a light alloy medal which are not suitable for wearing, engraving and only intended for displays such as museums, wall displays which have the original medal ribbon (in most cases) and are quite low quality but realistic prices such as the Victoria cross medal which you can obtain for less than 15 pounds and the original is priceless. (There are some really bad versions of these on some auction sites).

British Miniature Medals (aka mess dress medals) - These are never named as they are not issued like full size medals but purchased to wear and collect, these are worn when full size medals are not practical i.e. Black Tie, Dinner functions on Mess Dress uniforms and by Ex - service personnel. These will also increase the value if added with full size medal sets.


For more detailed information about miniature medals please see our British Miniature Medal Guide.

Did you know ?

British Military Medals will only increase in value so when you are buying you are investing as well as collecting.

  • Family members of medal winners are entitled to wear medals on the opposite side to serving members.

  • Most medals are not added to household home insurance.

  • It is illegal to buy or sell original named medals if the individual is still serving in the armed forces.

 Tips for buying and selling Full Size Original medals -

Is the medal / medals named around the rim on the bottom edge or reverse of the medal/ medals.


  • Does the medal / medals come with paperwork i.e. papers of issue and entitlement.

  • Does the medal come with original ribbons ? and are they the correct medal ribbons.

  • Are the medals in good condition ?

  • Does the medal / medals come with box of issue ?

  • Is the medal damaged or chipped ?

All these factors will increase the value of original medal sets whether you are buying or selling medals and although not all original medals come named such as World War 2 - WW2 campaign stars and Defence & War Medal most do come named after this period whether they are silver or Cupro nickel medals they are named on the bottom rim or reverse side for Gallantry Cross Medals.

British World War 2 Medals - In Order of Wear


  • 1939 - 1945 STAR                                           £13.00                         
  • ATLANTIC STAR                                             £39.00

  • ARCTIC STAR                                               £18.50

  • AIR CREW EUROPE STAR (ACE)                       £355.00

  • AFRICA STAR                                                £25.00

  • PACIFIC STAR                                               £52.00

  • BURMA STAR                                                £30.00

  • ITALY STAR                                                  £19.00

  • FRANCE AND GERMANY STAR                           £23.00

  • DEFENCE MEDAL                                             £16.00

  • WAR MEDAL 1939 - 45 (END OF WAR MEDAL).    £13.50




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