Selling guides

Should I sell war medals? Talking point

Should I sell war medals? Talking point
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If you’ve inherited some medals or simply found yourself with a few and you’re not sure what to do, we’re here to help.Particularly if you’re not interested in them, selling war medals is an option. The thing is, many people end up wondering whether or not to sell their medals - asking themselves whether it’s ethical or even legal to do so. In this article, we explore some of the questions you may have about selling medals, including:

  • Can I sell military medals?
  • Is it legal to sell any war medals?
  • Are there ethical considerations to selling medals?
  • Why sell military medals?

war medals

The Stolen Valor Act was passed in the United States in 2006. This prohibits the sale of medals while the soldier they were awarded to is still in the armed forces. When they leave the forces the medals may be sold. So this may come into play if you are selling American medals.The Stolen Valour Act says that trading of medals by ‘unauthorised persons’ is illegal. The act aims to prevent people claiming they’d received awards that they weren’t entitled to. Generally, it’s legal to buy and sell medals, provided you aren’t planning to wear them if you haven’t earned them.It’s not illegal to own medals that weren’t awarded to you, but it is illegal to wear medals you haven’t earned.The Stolen Valor Act sparked controversy when it was passed, but amendments were made in 2013 which still stand today.In the UK, it is not illegal to sell or buy military medals and there is a vibrant marketplace for this.The Armed Forces Act 2006 does clearly state that it is illegal to use war medals to pretend to be a member of the forces, and most people steer well clear of wearing the medals. They normally go straight into a display case.Also mentioned under the same act is the fact that medals cannot be sold while the person awarded is still active within the forces. The medal is technically owned by the government until the person has either left the military or is deceased.Can you sell a purple heart medal?Yes you can currently sell purple heart medals, but not all collectors will buy them and some selling platforms like eBay prohibit you listing these medals for sale.The laws around selling Purple Heart medals are confusing at best. In fact, most medal selling laws are confusing. Some collectors believe the medals can be bought and sold lawfully as long as the soldier that earned it is no longer in the military.Some collectors will be happy to buy a purple heart medal from you, others will not. So make sure you ask around and seek appropriate advice before selling your purple heart medal.

purple heart medal

Is it illegal to sell a purple heart medal?

No. It is not currently illegal to sell a purple heart medal, however, there is legislation being looked at in order to prohibit their sale when wondering if you should sell a war medal.Some selling platforms will ban the sale of specific medals or items. eBay is one such platform, it prohibits the sale of purple heart medals.

Is it illegal to sell a war medal of honour?

This can potentially be very valuable, but can you sell a medal of honour?It is not illegal to sell a medal of honour, but not all collectors will buy them. Some online selling platforms, like eBay prevent the sale of medals of honour.

Is it illegal to sell a Victoria Cross medal?

In the UK, the Victoria Cross is a similar award to the medal of honour. It is very prestigious and awarded for bravery. Just ‎1,358 have been awarded since its introduction in the 1850s. It is not illegal to sell the medal and there are records of these fetching tens of thousands of pounds at auction.

Victoria Cross medal

Is it immoral to sell war medals?

Views vary on this very important point.For some, it’s considered immoral to sell medals. They are a testament to the soldier that earned them. Many with this view-believe medals should be inherited through the family, looked after and cared for.Each medal produced comes with its own story. These stories should be kept alive for future generations to learn from.The arguments for selling medals acknowledge that each medal tells a story. In fact, medals are usually sold to collectors who are passionate about their history. Collectors look after medals, display them and share their stories with others.While it’s a lovely idea to think of medals being passed down through families, it’s not always possible. Attitudes to war have changed. Many people aren’t keen on keeping and displaying military medals in their homes.Some medals are quite common, and for this reason, it is only natural that a lot become separated from their owners. British war medals were awarded to everyone involved in some campaigns. Second World War stars and British War medals aren’t linked to their recipient by name, and there are many of them floating around on the market.

War stars and British War medals

Should you sell war medals?

There is ultimately no simple answer. You need to consider your circumstances and the origin of the medal. Whether it is moral to sell war medals is a decision for each individual to make.At least if you are selling medals to a collector, you know they will be well looked after and treasured.At Vintage Cash Cow we are lucky to have Steve, who is an avid collector of medals and militaria. Steve is always able to find a loving home for any medals and military items we buy.The reason most of us here love antique and vintage items is because of the history associated with them. We hear stories and legends of war heroes and incredible battles, acts of valour and bravery.

Old medals

Should I keep or sell my military medals?

In most circumstances, it is legal to sell military medals, so whether it is immoral to sell war medals is a choice for you to make. If the war medal in question is a treasured family heirloom then it might well be worth keeping. If not, or if you have no interest in the war medal, it may make sense to sell.If you plan to sell military medals on a platform such as eBay, it is worth checking their specific rules. For example, they have banned people from selling certain medals such as the Medal of Honour.At Vintage Cash Cow, we buy all types of medals and militaria. We find a home for everything because we believe that history is worth preserving. Because of that, we fall into the “it’s moral to sell medals” camp.We hear of people selling medals for their metal content because many medals are made of silver, but we think this is a real shame. We understand families don’t always have the ability or desire to preserve wartime memorabilia. So, we’ve given them an alternative.Using our service, customers get to make money for selling medals, and we then pass the medals on to collectors - who’ll be thrilled to add to their collections.

We hope we’ve helped you get to the bottom of this little debate. If you’re interested in seeing what your medals are worth, why not sign up for an info pack today? Have you got any thoughts on the matter? We’d be happy to hear from you down in the comments below! 

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