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Counterfeit Victoria Cross medals in 1900 1 month 3 days ago #71768

  • BereniceUK
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…."At the Central Criminal Court, London, before the Common Serjeant, Samuel Mitchell alias George Hinckley, alias Wray, fifty-seven, sailor, pleaded guilty to obtaining goods from pawnbrokers and money under false pretences. - Mr. Attenborough, who prosecuted, said the prisoner had pleaded guilty to four charges, though there were a number of other cases against him. He had been in the habit of going to pawnbrokers, and inducing them to receive in pledge what purported to be genuine Victoria Crosses. He had in some twelve instances, obtained advances on these crosses, which were counterfeit. The fraud was carefully devised, the prisoner using in each instance the name of a genuine holder of the Victoria Cross. The prisoner had been previously convicted of similar frauds - Inspector Godley said, beyond the admission that he had served twenty years in the Royal Navy, the prisoner had refused to give any account of himself. Inquiries shewed, however, that he was sentenced at Winchester Assizes to seven years' penal servitude for sham medal frauds, and was now on ticket of leave, having an unexpired term of two and a half years to undergo. He at the time of that conviction was on licence from a former sentence of three years' penal servitude, passed at Doncaster. A warrant was out now for the arrest of the prisoner for fraud at Bath. - The Common Serjeant said it was obvious that for years past the prisoner had been trading on either the military or naval services of this country. He ordered him to go to penal servitude for five years."

The Hexham Courant, Saturday 12th January 1901


What's not mentioned in the above report is where Mitchell was getting the fake medals from. It's hard to believe that he was capable of manufacturing them himself, as he'd been in and out of prison and was on remand at the time of his last offence, so I can only think that someone else was supplying him, and probably others, with the 'medals.'

How common is it for fake ABW medals to turn up?

www.museumoflondon.org.uk/discover/valou...hames-victoria-cross

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Counterfeit Victoria Cross medals in 1900 1 week 5 days ago #72120

  • LinneyI
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Berenice
Some time ago, I posted a "Complete List of Bars Awarded for the South Africa Campaign' ; taken from the (apparently) first edition of the book "The Medal Collector" by Stanley C. Johnson. Elsewhere in that book, the author comments about copies of the Victoria Cross as follows - "As the decoration is sometimes imitated, it may be well to state that its exact measurement is one and two fifths inches wide and the weight is 434 grains. Chasing and finishing may cause a slight variation in these figures, but the margin is insignificant. In the case of forgeries, the width is usually a trifle less than that given above, whilst the weight is seldom even approximate. Brass and iron are the metals most used by forgers: either of these when lacquered may present a fair appearance. Messers. Hancocks can, of course, tell in a moment whether a piece is genuine or not".
IL thinks the above would make a handy guide for assembling a case for prosecution. Handcocks, if near at hand, would provide the ultimate evidence. It is doubted that a Century ago there was a cottage industry in supplying counterfeit VCs - but surely there was faking going on.
Interestingly, Stanley C. Johnson comments about the specific naming of the Victoria Cross and provides an illustration of the reverse of the Cross awarded to Captain Arthur Martin-Leake of the SAC who was decorated
for bravery at Vlakfontein on 8/2/1902 and "Granted a clasp for most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty throughout the present campaign, especially during the period Oct. 29 - Nov. 8 1914 near Zonnebeke ..".


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IL.
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Counterfeit Victoria Cross medals in 1900 1 week 5 days ago #72122

  • Frank Kelley
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I would have thought that he or a third party would have simply purchased the copy decorations from a medallist/jeweller/tailor and simply had them named by a jeweller, nothing unlawful until the point he then offered them as completely original.
Spurious medals have been around almost as long as originals, but, it tended to be more of a problem when medal collecting became popular.


BereniceUK wrote:

What's not mentioned in the above report is where Mitchell was getting the fake medals from. It's hard to believe that he was capable of manufacturing them himself, as he'd been in and out of prison and was on remand at the time of his last offence, so I can only think that someone else was supplying him, and probably others, with the 'medals.'

How common is it for fake ABW medals to turn up?

www.museumoflondon.org.uk/discover/valou...hames-victoria-cross

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

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