"Wearer's Copies" of the Gold Star Medal. Fact or Fiction?
by Henry Sakaida & A. Bates

Every 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
example of hero medal copies
ABOVE 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" stamp.
3 copies on a suspension bar
the Russian 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)


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