Copies" of the Gold Star Medal. Fact or Fiction?
& A. Bates
field of collecting has a specimen that represents a milestone in defining
the accomplishments of the collector. The Gold Star medal for Hero of
the Soviet Union ( GSM ) is an example of such an award that marks a
transition from the intermediate to the advanced. This article will
briefly discuss the physical characteristics of the "wearer's copy"
and attempt to answer a controversial question, if an official government
issued "wearer's copy" was ever produced. This medal is said
to be a mint-issued, copy of the GSM. Physical characteristics vary
from well made duplicates of the original, to crude approximations.
If markings are present, they may be a serial number stamp, or
word"MULIAZH" (COPY), or the Cyrillic letter "D"
(short for duplicate). Supposedly, these medals were issued as a substitute
GSM to holders of the Title of Hero of the Soviet Union. The Hero would
attach it to their everyday clothing and not have to worry about having
the original solid gold award being stolen ( a very real problem as
will be later discussed ) while out in public. If the "wearer's
copy" was authentic, it might prove attractive as a space-filler
to those collectors who find the price of an real specimen prohibitive.
These "wearer's copies" have a price of $40-$100. An original
GSM can command a price anywhere between $1200 for the medal itself,
with no accompanying documents to $3000+ for awards with accompanying
award booklets, archival research and authentication. The high market
price of this award is attributable to its historical importance, its
rarity according to the standards set by Paul McDaniel in his book "The
Comprehensive Guide to Soviet Orders and Medals", and by the use
of almost entirely of pure gold (950 fine) in its construction. All
other pieces of the GSM including the suspension, suspension plate,
screwpost and screwback plate are constructed of gold-plated silver.
The purity of the gold originally used for the GSM is impressive. As
with other awards, the purity is described using an accepted standard
for jewelers. Fineness (parts of gold per 1000) and/or karats (parts
of gold per 24). 1000 fine=24 karat gold, 917 fine=22 karat gold, 750
fine=18 karat, 583 fine=14 karat, etc. Thus, the 950 fine designation
for the solid gold 5 pointed star of the GSM is almost entirely pure
24K Gold. The chemical symbol of gold, Au, is short for the Latin word
for gold, 'Aurum', which literally means 'Glowing Dawn'. Gold is the
most non-reactive of all metals, and never reacts with oxygen, which
means it will not rust or tarnish. The gold death-mask in the tomb of
Tutankhamun looked as brilliant when it was unearthed in 1922 as when
it was entombed in 1352 BC. (continued)
LEFT/RIGHT: Many of todays "wearer's copies"
have been seen with a cyrillic "D" (for "D"uplicate)
and with the Russian word "MULIAZH"
(COPY) stamped into them BELOW:
Three copies on a suspension bar, all with the "MULIAZH"