An extremely rare first pattern US Navy Distinguished Service Medal from WWI. This design was executed by James E. Fraser, a member of the Commission of Fine Arts, and submitted to the Navy by the Whitehead and Hoag Company.
It was initially accepted but was later rejected in favor of the design by Paul Manship, which is still in use today. The reference book The Call of Duty states that Whitehead and Hoag received a contract to produce 107 medals while the Philadelphia firm of Bailey, Banks and Biddle received a contract to produce 125 medals. It is not known how many medals W&H actually produced. At least a few of the medals made by BB&B were assembled, rim numbered, and engraved. The Call of Duty shows one named to British Admiral Jellicoe and notes that two others are known to Japanese Admirals.
Military and Naval Decorations of the United States by Charles P. McDowell shows one named to British Admiral Edward Fitzherbert. The American numismatic Society in New York has an unnamed example in its collection. The two medals to the British recipients and the ANS medal are all marked BB&B and Bronze on the reverse of the top bar. Im not aware of any others in public or private collections.Its not known how many medals BB&B actually produced or how they disposed of the medals. The last photo shows the medal in the ANS collection that I photographed in the 1990s. This same photo is shown in "The Call of Duty". It is shown for reference only and is definitely NOT for sale.
The medal offered here is one of the two noted in Call of Duty as issued to the Japanese Admirals. It is named to Admiral Tomosaburo Kato, Imperial Japanese Navy and is numbered on the rim 61.
The rim numbering is typical of the numbers used by BB&B in the WWI era. The recipient was Admiral Kat Tomosabur, who ultimately became Prime Minister of Japan before his death in 1923. The medal is fitted with what appears to be a cast copy of the suspension bar and this bar is unmarked on the reverse. The ribbon and brooch also appear to be replacements.The planchet has some of the original gilt finish remaining but is now mostly just bronze metal. There is a spot of verdigris on the obverse, as shown in the photos. Ive taken photos with lighting from two different angles in order to clearly show all of the details. This medal is one of the great rarities of US military medals. Ive never seen another come up for sale, although Im told that George Harris may have offered one years ago.
Please feel free to message me if you have any questions or would like additional photos. Terms of sale: This medal is unconditionally guaranteed as original. The item "Original First Pattern US Navy WWI Distinguished Service Medal" is in sale since Wednesday, November 20, 2019. This item is in the category "Collectibles\Militaria\WW I (1914-18)\Original Period Items\United States\Medals, Pins & Ribbons". The seller is "uswv1898" and is located in Santa Monica, California.
This item can be shipped to United States.