Selling guides

Do You Have a Rare or Valuable Medal to Sell?

Do You Have a Rare or Valuable Medal to Sell?
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If you own a medal and aren’t entirely sure of its origin or the medal value, it can be exciting to think about the history behind it. Do you have one of the rarest medals out there? Perhaps you’ve inherited one of the most valuable military medals? This guide has been created to help you to establish whether you are sitting on a rare or valuable medal, or whether it is one of the more common items held in many households throughout the UK.

Most valuable war medals

There are examples of war medals selling for astronomical figures. As with many markets, the scarcity of the medal will impact the price. Often, the most valuable medals are so pricy because they are either very rare or have a story behind them.

Rare British Military Medals

Some British war medals aren’t overly rare. For instance, over 365,000 1914 Star medals have been awarded since 1914. This means there are still plenty of them around. They are still valuable, but might not fetch as much as a rarer medal. For instance, The Victoria Cross Medal is one of the rarest British military medals and has only been awarded 1358 times so it will be more valuable.

Valuable World War 1 medals

The aforementioned Victoria Cross Medal is the most valuable from WWI. Their scarcity means that these can fetch up to £200,000 at auction, depending on their condition. There are other rare World War I medals which don’t hold as much value. The Territorial Force War Medal for nursing services was issued 34,000 times. Both The British War Medal and The Allied Victory Medal are far more common. Both were issued over 5 million times.

Valuable World War 2 medals

Victoria Cross medals were also awarded throughout WW2, meaning these are still likely to be the most valuable medals found from this time. A full list of medals awarded during WW2 can be found here, and while most hold some value, the more recent nature of their award combined with how many are floating around means they are less valuable than many WW1 medals. The Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific stars are all relatively common. It isn’t just British war medals which sell for hefty prices. There are some rare German medals, for instance, from WW2, which can fetch big prices. A medal which was awarded to a Geman soldier who took five bullets which were intended to hit Adolf Hitler himself sold for £36,500 at auction. 

What type of medal do you have?

There are thousands of different types of medals. They aren’t always around and they don’t always come with a ribbon.  If you aren’t sure what type of medal you have, a good place to start is by searching for its distinguishing features. Using a search engine you can enter search terms to return images. If you click on an image it should give you at least the name of the medal.

WW2 medals

For instance, if you had any of the medals in the picture above you might start searching for star-shaped medals. Some of the medals have inscriptions and dates on them, so searching for star-shaped medals with specific dates or inscriptions is a great place to start. When you see a medal that looks like yours in the image search results, click on it to find out what your medal is called. In this case, a search engine would tell you that these are British Military medals that included the 1945 Star. If your medal is round and you can’t see many details try searching for the colour of the medal ribbon. For instance, if I was searching for the middle medal in the example picture I would search for “medal with light blue, black, and yellow ribbon.” This isn’t a foolproof method, it might take you a few different searches to identify your medal. Be careful when using this method, sometimes one tiny detail can make a difference when it comes to accurate identification. Most medals have an inscription around the rim. This has a service number, name, rank, battalion, corps, regiment or service of the person it was awarded to. There are good records of most medal awards from 1914 onward. Using the inscription and these records you can find out who it was awarded to and the reasons why. Some online companies will charge you to use medal records, so remember to check before you sign up. To find the most relevant records, use a search engine to look for “medal rolls”. You’ll need to know a rough date for your medal and the country it’s from. For instance, if you know your medal was issued around 1900 in South Africa, there’s a chance you are holding onto one of the rare Boer War medals.

War medal valuations – what you need to know

There are different types of valuations. It’s important to know what kind of valuation you should get. The wrong evaluation could be expensive and might not tell you how much you can make selling your medals.

Insurance replacement valuations

If you have a collection of rare medals you may want to make sure your home insurance policy covers them. Most policies have something called a single article or item limit. That’s the most the insurance policy will pay out for a single item. If you think your medals are worth more than the single-item limit you should get them valued. That’s where insurance replacement valuations come in. The valuation will mean you’ll know how much coverage you need for your medals. You’ll also have evidence you can pass on to the insurance company in the event of a claim. The valuation you get for insurance purposes isn’t the price you get for selling your items. It’s the price of replacing them. Or the financial compensation you would get for items that can’t be replaced, like medals.

Probate valuations

If you inherit anything from someone else after their death you will have to pay tax on the inheritance. This is called an inheritance tax. To work out how much you should pay, the inherited items are subject to a probate valuation. The valuation attributes value to medals or any other items being passed down in the will. The payable tax is then worked out for the entire estate. That means all the buildings, money, and items that have been passed down. Naturally, this applies to valuable medals, too. The probate valuation looks for the monetary value of the items. So this isn’t the same price you’d get for selling them.

Family division valuations

It would be unusual to get a family division valuation on a set of medals. It’s used to create prenuptial agreements and divorce or separation settlements. Where a couple of shares assets like art, jewellery, stocks etc, the items have to be fairly divided. So a Family Division Valuation attributes monetary value to the disputed items. The result is usually that one party keeps the asset and pays the other half of its value. In some cases, the items are sold and the money that’s made is divided between the two parties. This type of valuation won’t tell you how much you can expect to make when selling your medals.

Private sale valuations

If you are selling your war medals, this is the type of valuation you need. It will tell you exactly how much you can make selling your medals. It’s not unusual to get varying prices from private sale valuations. Some collectors and companies will pay more for your medals if they have an easy way to sell them on. For instance, at Vintage Cash Cow we're able to offer good prices for medals thanks to Steve’s network of medal collectors. A pawn shop might offer a lower price if they don’t have an immediate outlet to sell them on and generally aren't as clued up as dedicated buyers. For rare or valuable war medals, the market can be quite a niche. Make sure you are getting a no-obligation sale price. The last thing you want is to be forcefully parted from your medals.

How much does it cost to get war medals valued?

Prices vary for different types of valuation and across different types of companies. You would expect to pay for insurance, probate or family division valuation. Sale valuations are usually free. In rare instances, like at auction houses, you may be charged for them.

Where can I get my war medals valued?

If you want to get your medals valued make sure you select the right type of valuation and do your research. It’s OK to get prices from different companies. Make sure you ask if they charge for their valuations. Some companies will also give you a lot of information online. Look up reviews for any companies you’re thinking to sell to. People are often keen to share their experiences both good and bad. Once you’ve done your research and had your medals valued you’re ready to sell.

Selling your rare or valuable medal

At Vintage Cash Cow we have an in-house medal specialist. If you are looking for a price for your war medal we can provide that to you free of charge and with no obligation. All you have to do is pop your medals in a box. Our expert Steve will take a look at them and let you know how much you can make selling your medals. If you decide to sell, Steve will give you an instant cash payment. Then he’ll clean, repair and re-home any medals you’ve sent in. If you decide not to sell, Steve will send your medals back for free. If you think you might be interested in selling your war medal with us, why not get in touch and request a free information pack today?

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