Saturday 25 July 2020

Re-Named Medals - What do they look like? A Beginner's Guide

The QSA and KSA was always issued named, there are a variety of styles that are either engraved or impressed.

There is no susbstitute to reading, researching and looking at as many QSAs & KSAs as you can - obviously a medal in the hand is of more value than a sketchy image on the internet or in a book - but needs must these days!

Fortunately, unlike other campaign medals such as Waterloo and Crimea medals QSAs and KSAs have not been targetted by fraudsters naming up medals to deliberately deceive. However, you come across copies of the medals themselves - usually poor quality and easily spotted when compared to a genuine medal - eBay is full of poor quality copies, have a browse!

Of more concern are genuine medals that have been re-named, most of these are easily spotted because in order to rename the medal the existing naming needs to be erased. The act of erasing, known as "skimming", always removes part of the medal thus impacting the overall diameter and the width of the rim is not consistent.

This medal has been skimmed, the two red circles indicate the width of the rim and if you look from 3 o'clock to 9 o'clock the width of the rim decreases as part of the medal has been removed (skimmed) to erase the naming already on the medal.

In general the details put onto the rim were consistent:

Royal Navy - Initials, Surname, Rank, Ship
Army (including colonial units) - Number, Rank, Initials, Surname, Unit

There can be variation in the Unit; battalion number, volunteer battalion or volunteer service company, the suffix "MI" for mounted infantry.

Civilians & Nurses: Rank (not for all), Initials, Surname

You will see variations to the above, generally this is ok, if the medal has not been re-named. Identifying a re-named medal is better than relying on the syntax of the rim details.

This image shows the naming on the rim from the medal above. This style of naming is common on re-named medals and never seen on officially named medals. You can see the metal in each letter is very rough, hence the name "chisel engraved".

Part re-named QSA, the rank is correct, the initial and surname have been re-named

Engraved Naming - found on medals to Army officers (but not all colonial units), some medals engraved on the QSA to other ranks in the RE, ASC and a few cavalry and infantry regiments.

Top: engraved QSA, compare neatness to re-named example. Bottom is an impressed KSA.    

QSA engraved in India - very similar to the India General Service medals.

QSA engraved to a sapper of the Royal Engineers.

Impressed Naming - most common naming, in a variety of sizes on both QSA & KSA. Medals named during and after WW1 have naming similar to the British War Medal - thin mid-size capitals.

Official Renaming - the Mint recycled medals and these are known as "official re-names". There will be signs of skimming, but usually less severe than in the first example shown above. The new naming will be in the correct style and you may see traces of the first naming applied.

Most of the naming was done in the UK, some slver and bronze medals were named in India. Another set of medals to Australian and New Zealand troops were named in those countries, these are medals presented by the future King Edard VII on his world tour in 1901 aboard HMS Ophir, you can read more here.

If you would like to contribute images of re-named QSAs & KSAs and genuine naming styles nto shown above please contact me.


  1. Thank you for explaining and showing these examples. I'd like your views on how it affects the "value"of the medal..... I assume some guys did not receive what was due at issue due to antipathy or they lost the original. It may have been easier to "rename" one than apply for a "R". I'm assuming no fraudulent renaming but that done by the actual recipient for no spurrious reason.

    1. Great question thank you - values are always subjective. But, in general the further you move away from 100% original the more the value decreases. If the "recipient" on a privately re-named medal isn't entitled to the medal in the first place then it is simply scrap value.