BRITISH WWII STARS
Eight different types of stars were issued for the Second World War. Only a maximum of 5 could be earned by a person and if one qualified for further campaigns, clasps were issued to denote the extra campaigns with a maximum of one clasp per star.
So basically the star could be awarded alone and if the recipient qualified for a further campaigns, certain clasps were awarded for each to be attached to particular star.
Here are the different stars awarded and the clasp that could possibly be awarded for each star.
1. The 1939-45 Star could have the Battle of Britain clasp
2.The Air-Crew Europe Star could have the Atlantic clasp Or the France and Germany clasp.
3. The Atlantic Star could have the Air-Crew Europe clasp Or the France and Germany clasp.
4. The Pacific Star could have the Burma clasp.
5. The Burma Star could have the Pacific clasp.
6.The France and Germany Star could have the Atlantic clasp.
7. The Africa Star could have the North Africa 1942-43 clasp Or the 1st Army clasp or the 8th Army clasp.
8.The Italy Star (no clasp designated to be attached to this particular star).
So we have a total of 8 types of stars and 9 types of clasps. The Air-Crew Europe star being the rarest and hence the most expensive and out of clasps, the Battle of Britain clasp being the rarest and perhaps the most desired item out of all of the above by collectors.
The ribbons for the above stars are known to have been designed by King George VI himself and each having some symbolic significance to the campaign the star was awarded for. A lot could be said about each star and for what it was awarded but that is beyond the scope of this humble guide presented here.
Most stars were issued unnamed. Many soldiers got their stars named on their own. There is a type of naming, popularly known as 'Boots Naming' , the chain of stores that time had the idea to name medals for soldiers for a small fee and hence it is encountered every now and then. Some commonwealth countries issued the medals officially named for example: India. Many stars are hence found named to Indians and then there are many in India that were issued unnamed too. It is still not clearly known on what criterion were the stars named to some and yet not named to others but its obvious that getting a named star is always of interest as that has a better and perhaps more concise story to tell. Some other Commonwealth countries are known to have named their stars too. For example: (will add names later).
British medals were manufactured by not only the Royal Mint but also in the Calcutta Mint and probably in some other mints in the then various British Territories. While the Stars from the Royal Mint are easily recognized, many a times, the ones from the Calcutta Mint have been rejected by collectors as fakes but actually that is not so. Yes, there are fakes in the market, in fact , quite a bit more than there should be, but it is important to be able to recognize a fake from an original and not reject for ex. a Calcutta Mint original, just because it does not look like the one from the Royal Mint.
Some differences between the Royal Mint and the Calcutta Mint issued Stars.
The reasoning i know that a variance exists and that a star is probably from the Calcutta mint and not a downright fake is that i have encountered stars with variance in an officially named state, both as singles and in groups with no doubt about their provenance. If it were just unnamed stars, then there would always be an issue whether the star is an original or fake but because they have SOLID provenance and are officially named, one can deduce that the star is actually an original but from maybe a different mint or quite simply from another die with some variance in design.
The following is from my experience and personal study and is subject to further improvement if i were to receive further information on the same..
First and foremost , I would like to point out that i have only noted variance in the 1939-45 Star and the Burma Star. Never have i noted any variance in the Africa, Italy or the Pacific Star. Rest of the Stars, I will reserve comments on as my study was among stars manufactured in UK and the ones in India and since most if not all stars manufactured in India were issued to the Indian Army, I have yet to see any examples of the Air-Crew Europe, Atlantic or France and Germany Star to be able to make comparisons. It is always talked about in collector's circles whether some Indians were indeed awarded the stars mentioned but i have still to see a confirmed example which can be confirmed by provenance or naming.
Here are some variances that were noted
1. Some original stars have been encountered with a raised more rounded central dome where it says GRI.
2. Copper looking rings with silver solder have in fact been encountered on many original stars, believed to be manufactured in the Calcutta Mint. On first look, they look a bit rough, with lines running on them, i.e they are not smooth or well buffed.
3. The finish could be of lesser quality than the Royal Mint, though not necessarily so, sometimes the matt finish on the background where it says for example ,'The 1939-45 Star'. Many times the matt finish is not consistent or missing partially. Also the details on the crown at the top of the star can sometimes be a bit blurry. One would normally reject a star considering these signs to be that of a fake but even though fakes can display such signs, there is no way of judging or coming to conclusions by these signs alone.
4. The reverse of the star has a round centre, with the rays of the star coming out from within the central circle. The original star most commonly encountered has a \_/ shap between the rays at the central part, but originals CAN also have a simple V shape.
5. Many stars encountered have a gold finish that does not look so good or at best, different from the color of gold finish the eye is used to seeing, but that too is part of the variation and not a sign of the star being a fake.
Here are some pictures from a 100 percent genuine group. The picture/s will demonstrate the various points discussed above and also serve as a nice example as to what to expect if one was looking for genuine naming to an Indian Army recipient.
Ok, Now that is done and having made it even more difficult to detect an outright fake, here is a short list of signs that will confirm that the star at hand is a DEFINITE fake. (these signs have been noted down from actual fakes handled to complete the study )
1. The V and I are not joined at the top on many fakes. This is the roman numeral for 6 and it is ALWAYS joined at the top on originals.
2. The crown on the original is nicely raised giving a 3-D effect but on many fakes, it is quite flat and dull looking. Also, it lacks detail on some fakes.
3.The cushion on the crown at the background is many times completely smooth on the fake ,while on originals it has a coarse and dotted look.
4. The centre of the crown has two vertical lines with dots between them. On an original, you should easily be able to count four and a half (or five) dots but on many fakes, there are just 3 or 4 dots.
5. Original medals do have a good finish and fakes will many times not. The only reason some British WW2 stars may have a not quite good finish is because so many were manufactured that as the die wears out, some details begin to get lost.... but overall, one can almost always expect a good well finished star.
6. Originals have an uniform thickness and the example noted above as being from the Calcutta mint that has a raised central dome is of uniform thickness too. The raised dome is the only difference and the arms etc of the star are uniform like any other star. One Pacific star was encountered which was quite thin overall and of coarse, was a downright Fake.
7. The arms of the star are blunted in originals, on some variants maybe even more blunted, but a sharp pointy end was never encountered on originals.
8. The edges of the original stars are quite interesting. Look at the edge of the star of any variety. They have a two toned finish. When the stars were manufactured it seems that the edges were rough and that they were finished in a second process. The edges of ALL original stars sill be smooth and have a finished look towards the obverse end of the star and a bit rough on the reverse end of the star. Here follows a picture to demonstrate the edge of a known ORIGINAL star..
As has been said time and again, one can only become confident about such things with further study and more than that with experience. The above has been written with a view to perhaps quicken the learning curve a bit and maybe save some fingers from getting burnt.
As a single first (and cheap) step to collecting British Medals , may I suggest the following book.
Medal Yearbook, 2006 published by Token Publishing. The book is updated and printed every year and is a solid handbook and a nice quick reference guide with pictures and much other information to illustrate each medal. It is quite handy for the beginner and veteran collector alike. The ISBN number for the same is 1 870 192 70 2.
( i will be reviewing the above mentioned book in a more detailed manner later on another ebay guide, so keep an eye out for that one) Further , i would like to point out that i have NO commercial interest in the above mentioned book , nor do i have any for sale.
Hope the above guide has been of some help.
All best wishes and ........
GOOD LUCK HUNTING!!!
PS - I submitted larger much clearer pictures but it seems ebay software automatically down sizes them and i realize that they are not so clear in the small size that they are, but i am helpless in this matter....Sorry!