Authentic strike of the 1939-1941 US Antarctic Expedition Medal. This medal was authorized on September 24, 1945 for award to members of the First United States Antarctic Expedition, commanded by Admiral Richard Byrd. (Byrd's previous expeditions were private ventures. The 1939-41 expedition was the first one sponsored by the United States government.) The medal was designed by John R. Sinnock. The obverse shows a partial map of the Antarctic along with the dates and legend. The reverse reads, "By Act of Congress of the United States to (blank) In recognition of Invaluable Service to This Nation by Courageous Pioneering in Polar Exploration Which Resulted in Important Geographical and Scientific Discoveries". Only two ships with a total crew of 125 men participated in this expedition so only a very small number of medals were struck and presented. Subsequent expeditions were recognized by the much more common Antarctic Service Medal. See page 241 in the first edition of “The Call of Duty” or page 372 of the 2nd edition.
medal is from the second, and last, official production run in the
early 1960s. It is in overall good condition but the finish on the planchet does show some age. An original
strike of this medal from the late 1940s is virtually unobtainable. I’ve
only seen a couple in over 30 years of collecting. Examples of this
second authorized production are also rare in the collector market.
Click here for a thorough history of the 1939-1941 expedition.
The bottom photo is a comparison of one of the recently manufactured fakes, on the left, with an authentic strike on the right. Note the completely different die detail and the much higher quality of the original. (The fake is not included as part of this sale.)