In addition to U.S. coinage, the United States Mint strikes Congressional Gold Medals, military medals, Presidential medals, First Spouse medals and others that commemorate major historical events and sites.
A tiny sampling of the military medals made by the United States Mint
My interest in medals was kindled after seeing some very old ones when visiting the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. That’s where they’re all made.
These are the original, hand-cut medal dies which were used to strike the large Jefferson Indian Peace Medals which were taken by Lewis and Clark on their 1804 expedition from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. Before lathes and engraving machines, all dies were hand cut by engravers. These original dies were secured in the Philadelphia Mint’s vault for over 200 years.
Memorial Day got me thinking about some of the military medals I’ve acquired in the last few months. The three newest are duplicates of Congressional Gold Medals recently awarded to American Fighter Aces, the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders and the 65th Infantry Regiment, known as the Borinqueneers.
After striking Congressional Gold Medals, the U.S. Mint is charged by law with making and selling bronze replicas for collectors. They’re available in 3-inch and 1.5-inch formats. If you’ve never held one of the Mint’s larger medals in your hand, I’d recommend trying to find the opportunity. They do cost more than the smaller versions ($39.95 vs. $6.95) but their higher relief and stronger detail make them much more appealing.
I’ve included some photos of the mentioned military medals to give you an idea of their quality.
Photos of American Fighter Aces 3-Inch Bronze Medal
American Fighter Aces 3-Inch Bronze Medal – Obverse and Reverse
The obverse of the American Fighter Aces medal features four pilots, representing World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War; an ace of spades; and military wings with a globe centered, symbolizing the global impact of the group’s service
The reverse of the American Fighter Aces medal features four aircraft used by American Fighter Aces and includes five stars to represent the minimum number of aerial combat victories required for certification
Photos of Doolittle Tokyo Raiders 3-Inch Bronze Medal
Doolittle Tokyo Raiders 3-Inch Bronze Medal – Obverse and Reverse
The obverse of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders medal features the North American B–25B Mitchell launching off the USS Hornet (CV–8), 16 stars representing the 16 flight crews that made up the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders
The reverse of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders medal features B–25B Mitchell aircraft approaching their target with four patches representing the four squadrons (34th, 37th, 89th, and 95th) that make up the 17th Bombardment Group
Photos of 65th Infantry Regiment "Borinqueneers" 3-Inch Bronze Medal
Borinqueneers 3-Inch Bronze Medal – Obverse and Reverse
The obverse of the Borinqueneers medal depicts a portrait of a fictional Borinqueneer. The soldiers in the background are in an inverted “V” formation, taking the high ground with fixed bayonets during an assault on the enemy during the Korean War.
The reverse of the Borinqueneers medal depicts the Castillo de San Felipe del Morro of San Juan, Puerto Rico. It is a 16th-century citadel, a central symbol of Puerto Rico and the preferred military command ceremonial parade site of the 65th Infantry Regiment.
Photos of 1.5-Inch Bronze Military Medals
Here are photos of the same medals in the 1.5-inch size.
The top shows a photo of the obverse or heads side of a 1.5-inch American Fighter Aces medal, Doolittle Tokyo Raiders medal, and Borinqueneers medal. The bottom shows a photo of the reverse or tails side of the same medals.
If you would like to see one of the Presidential medals made by the U.S. Mint, check out these Ronald Reagan medal photos.
The Mint’s selection of medals is found here.