Approximate Guide line to the changes in suspender types.
The first medals to have the split or wrap brooch appeared around 1908 when the first numbered medals were issued. Very early issued medals such as the WW1 Victory medal used a full wrap or split wrap brooch but this was dependent on either Navy or Army issue, the latter favouring the full wrap brooch. Circa 1939 the slot brooch was introduced and a lot of Army decorations used both wrap and slot brooch during WW2 but the Navy favoured the split wrap brooch on the Purple Heart and Silver Star. Based on what I have seen after WW2 the slot and crimp brooch were more widely used.
These older style wrap brooch suspenders are found on medals up to and including WW2 as seen on this early Air Medal which was issued from 1942 and the Yangtze Service Medal (1932). Some wrap suspenders have an open hook clasp rather than the lockable type as shown above and there are wrap brooches which have also been numbered. There are different manufacturers of lockable clasps but with different pin mounts. Joseph Meyer 1920’s to 30’s, L G Balfour, and the US Mint were all manufacturers of wrap brooches. The US Mint and BB & B also made the split wrap brooch used in Navy and Marine Corp Medal contracts. Split wrap brooches were used on the Navy Purple Heart medal contracts during the 1930’s with slot brooches making appearances circa 1939. Wrap brooches were used on a number of medals issued during WW2 including the Air Medal, Distinguished Service Cross, Soldiers Medal, Silver Star and Good Conduct Medal with all available in either wrap or loop suspender.
Slotted Loop suspender on a Bronze Star early issue made by Swank Inc, Attleboro, Mass, Circa 1944/45.
Army Distinguished Service Cross with Black Loop suspender circa 1944/45 and Silver Star circa 1942 both made by the Robbins Co, Attleboro, Mass.
Both the above are Loop suspenders. Left: Soldiers Medal and Right: Army Good Conduct made by the Robbins Co, September 1944. Both WW2 manufacture. Soldiers Medal with possible Robbins Loop suspender? Both have different locking latches (90°) and loop curve at top of the suspender is different. Both have the centre datum lines for soldering the clasp and pin.
The Medallic Art Co manufactured the Soldiers Medal July 1945.
Note also the clasp can be set at either 45° or 90° dependent on manufacturer.
Air Force Good Conduct Medal on loop suspender in dated box 1963. This medal was established 1960 but not issued until 1963 thus indicating the loop suspender was still used up to this time. Note: There is only a contract number but no D.S.A. number on this box.
Loop and crimp combined on this Navy Commendation Medal and 12mm crimped brooch on a Meritorious Service Medal. These loop and crimp combined suspenders can be found on medals issued from WW2 onwards including the Armed Forces Reserve Medal. The Meritorious Service Medal dates from the Seventies as it was not authorised until 1969 and first issued early 1970’s. The maker mark is for Williams & Anderson Co, Providence, RI.
The hallmarks found on recent issued medals are all certified by the US Army Institute of Heraldry which was founded in 1960 after the Heraldic Program Office (HPO) was originally entrusted with approving Army Insignia especially during World War 2. It was during this conflict that the U S Navy also sought the use of the HPO to design insignia and awards. Due to the expansion of coats of arms, official seals and decorations, in 1957 Public Law 85-263 was enacted thus allowing all branches of the Federal Government to use the service of the HPO. From 1960 the newly organized Institute of Heraldry was placed under the control of the Army’s Quartermaster General and since then has been reorganized twice eventually becoming part of the Office of the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Army and is based at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. The Heraldic Design Division is responsible for the design of Insignia, Awards and Decorations.
From the mid-sixties all medals were hallmarked on the suspender brooch plus the GI (Government Inspected) logo was added on medals made by US Government Contract Companies e.g. H.L.P-GI.
It is difficult to timeline exactly when the hallmarks were altered to numbers as shown below with both Graco-GI and G27 being the hallmarks for Graco Industries, Tomball, Texas as some number codes were issued in the early sixties for the manufacture of insignia and badges. Vanguard Industries manufacturers of distinctive unit insignia and shoulder sleeve insignia from 1960-65 used the hallmark V-1 from 1967 -74 V-21 and post 1974 V-21-N.
9mm current crimp with maker mark G27 & Graco GI both for Graco Industries, Tomball, Texas. Graco Industries were certified by the US Army Institute of Heraldry to manufacture medals and service ribbons in 1981.
Based on the information and medals issued the possible guidelines for Graco made medals are Graco GI 1981 to 1993, G27 1991 to present day.
Maker Mark G23, Ira Greene, Providence, Rhode Island. Kosovo Campaign Medal.