Original, late issue or fake???  – Mystery solved-

Since starting the website, there have been numerous requests to verify South African medals. The purpose of this site is to help, explain and demystify matters; thus, this is the first of many short articles on provocative questions.

The Group in question is up for the South African Bid or Buy Auction site. It is a South African Pilot grouping, including the SA Korea WW2 and two American decorations including the DFC.

At the outset, I need to thank Dewald Nel, of Nel Antiques for providing all the pictures and his full assistance. 

So let us dissect the Group.

SA Korean Group under discussion
Reverse of Grouping

SA Korea 

To state again in the 1990s, the SADF ordered top-ups of all its medals, and this included the SA Korea medal. These “top-up” medals as I described them are official, and they are not copies. 

SA Korea Original Issue and 1990 Issue (obverse)
SA Korea Original and 1990s Issue (reverse)
Original, Casting Copy, 1990’s issue
Original, casting copy, 1990’s issue (reverse)

Above three SA Korea medals are identified. On the left is the original, the middle is a cast copy, and then on the right is the 1990s issue. 

Differences are easy to spot. The original issue all have voided suspenders, and the both designer’s initials are visible on the face. The casting copy is made from the original but is smaller in size. It should not fool anyone. The Top-Up version has a chrome-like plating, no voiding on the suspender, and one designer initials are missing. The edge, not shown is always slightly rounded. The medal looks “cheap” when compared with the original silver version.  Look carefully at the voiding on the suspender of the original. It is not present on the late issue.

No voiding on 1990’s issue (solid)

In the Naude Group, this appears to be an original issue medal, and to the best of my belief, there were stocks in Pretoria of blank stocks well into the 1980s. So this is original. Now we examine the naming. In line with all late issues, the SA Mint did not follow established naming protocols for late issues. The SADF sent a request to name together with the medals to the SAM. Such request did not contain naming protocols. The awards, out of SADF stocks, were given to a SAM naming section and named. Anything could happen, and we see many variations. However, the naming protocol for SA Korea medals is that officers medals were named with rank, initials and surname only and no unit is shown. Thus the medal should be named “Lt J H Naude”. There is no reference to a service number. The SA Korea and UN Korea medals were named at the same time so what appears on the SA Korea medal will be replicated on the UN Korea Medal. 

Naming on SA Korea – note no rank

The letter style is correct; however, it concerns me that a different naming machine was used on the War Medals and Africa Service Medal. In theory, the naming should all be the same as they would have been named at the same time on the same machine. There are two types of naming machines, one for the round medals and another for the campaign stars. 

Conclusion: This is an original medal, with late naming.

Now onto the WW2 medals

As per my previous article, the War Medal and ASM suspenders are the correct SA manufactured issues. The naming on this is the right style but poorly done. A future article will explain the difference between the SA naming styles. 

Naming on WW2 Medals

Conclusion: The War Medal and ASM are original medals with official late naming

The 1939-45 Star needs warrants a further explanation as this is not the standard SA gilded version. However, I have seen this type of medal with the late issues. It is not the 1990s top-up version, and I have not managed to get an explanation of where this style medals came from. The naming, however, is contemporary with the late 1970s style. 

Naming on Star

Conclusion: The star is an officially named late issue.

American Medals 

I am not an expert on American medals, but for those issued to the South Africans in Korea, they were issued directly by the American authorities and not the SADF. The SADF held no spare stock, other than extra ribbon. There are numerous photos of South African being presented their medals in Korea and at the US embassy in Pretoria. The majority of the US medals issued to South Africans are issued named but this is not cast in stone. (I have always questioned how those issued in the field in Korea were named and I will assume they were not). There is no hard and fast rule on naming and I have seen original groups with both named and unnamed awards. The naming itself varies but this is subject for an American expert. With this Group, I will assume the two American awards were privately added as there was no stock with the SADF.

UN Medals 

The SADF held stocks of the UN medal and Korea Korean service medals. The SAM officially named only the UN Korea medal in the same style as the SA Korea Medal.

Another Group

As noted by Dewald, this Group similar to this has previously appeared on City Coins and DNW. I have not reviewed the naming on these groups as described by City Coins and DNW, however, I must point out that they state the naming on the SA and UN Korea medals to state Lt. They clearly state the American DFC is named. In my opinion the City Coins, DNW is, therefore, the correct original. 

I draw your attention to Naudes Index card listed in the description. The three WW2 medals are shown as being dispatched on 14/8/1951. If the medals were returned, this would be noted on this document. The last place to look is in his service file, and Dewald advised that there is nothing official is dealing with the late issue is in his records. Usually, there is correspondence regarding payment for a second replacement issue. 

Index Card showing dispatch in 1951

Final Conclusion:

This is not my group, I have never owned it and I have no financial interest therein.

The SA Korea, WW2 medals and original but late issues. UN Korea and South Korea medals are original. These medals are not fakes, they are all original, with late issue naming. I make no comment on the American decorations other than to repeat that they should be named. 

Dewald did a great job in providing the documentation, pointing out the late issue naming and drawing everyone’s attention to the existence of another grouping which appears to be his first issue. 

Lastly, I have been asked about the value of this Group. It is sufficient to state that the original issued medal Group with its named American decorations including the coveted DFC would sell for more than double the starting price. In my opinion, it is a great group to acquire at a reasonable price. 

*******Post Script ********

Update ** The Original Group ** and the mystery is almost solved.

Original Naude Group

Since my posting the original 1950’s issue Naude Group, with the current owner’s permission, is added to the article to complete the story. 

I am pleased to announce that my article was correct as regarding the types and naming. Collecting as a whole has triumphed. This confirmation has motivated me to write and fully illustrate more articles to detail the various South African naming styles for collectors and enthusiasts to enjoy. 

SA Korea and UN Korea 

The original medals are corrected named ” Lt A H Naude”. Both are named in the same style. Note no service number and no designation referring to SAAF. The SA Korea medal has a “voided” suspender and both designers initials are shown on the obverse. In addition and most importantly, The style of naming is consistent with SADF WW2 stamping. The medal is extremely shiny and shows signs of being cleaned and treated but is correct. The pitting from swing mount wear against the points of the 39-45 Star is visible. This pitting reflects that these medals have been well worn on a swing mount so clearly worn by the recipient for many years on parade. Court Mounting was not popular and almost unknown in the SADF/SAAF during these years. The court mounting is clearly a later period.

Original SA Korea – Note Voided suspender and 2 designers initials

There is pitting on the SA Korea medal. This is often encounter

Correct Period Style Naming to Lt J H Naude
Correct Naming on UN Korea

World War 2 Medals 

The pictures illustrate the “gilded” South African manufactured star and the naming matches the 1950’s type. The style of naming matches the WW2 medals as described in a previous article.  The War Medal and Africa Service have the correct SA Manufacture suspender.

WW2 SA Issue Campaign Star – Obverse showing gilding and naming
Close up of naming. Note style and Gilding

American Decorations 

The Air Medal  (AM) is unnamed. The US Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) is named with the first name in full, consistent with naming I have seen on these and Air Medals. For comparison, I illustrate a named Air Medal Lt Verster (KIA in Korea) which is part of his complete Group in the author’s collection. Vester’s medal was removed from a period frame with his portrait and has never been tampered with.  I will repeat that known original groups exist with unnamed US AM’s and DFC’s however I have not yet encountered an unnamed Bronze Star Medal.  The naming styles have ranged from an engraved style to an impressed version. There were no stocks of these with the SADF at the time and I assume they would have referred him to the American Authorities. An expert on US medals would be able to identify the differences.

Naming on US DFC – Note first name in full.
Illustration of naming on Air Medal to J P Verster (KIA) – note the full first name

The above additional information confirms the fact that the SA medals in the first part of the article are from original SADF stocks and are an official 1970’s reissued.

The Grouping now illustrated is the original 1950’s issue and shows clear signs of being worn. The reason for a later official re-issue set is not fully explained however I must add that the SADF did not reissue medals without a valid reason. However, the SADF would not have issued only what they had in stock and not the American AM and DFC.

I extend my thanks to Dewald Nel for his assistance and to the current owner for permission to show the medals.