Navy Medal of Honor (1861-1882)


SKU: 02.USA.0100.102.01.000

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  • Country
    United States
  • Makers
    William Wilson & Son, Philadelphia
  • Inscription
  • Version Remarks
    The rank, regiment and actions of the recipient will influence the value of this decoration.


The Navy Medal of Honor was established by President Abraham Lincoln on December 21, 1861. The Decoration was originally created to promote the efficiency of the Navy by rewarding enlisted men of the Navy and Marine Corps for acts of gallantry and valour in times of war and peace. The Navy Medal of Honor was the first decoration formally authorized by Congress to be worn on the uniform of recipients. The Navy Medal of Honor is one of three types of the Medal of Honour, which is the highest military award for bravery. The Medal of Honor is normally presented by the President of the United States on behalf of Congress and is thus often referred to as the Congressional Medal of Honor. In 1915, the Decoration was extended to Officers. The eligibility requirements of the Decoration have been restricted over time. Since 1918, the award of the Decoration was made only upon incontestable proof (of two eyewitnesses) of acts of heroism that goes above and beyond the call of duty, involves the risk of personal life, and which clearly distinguishes the recipient from their comrades. In 1942, the award was restricted to acts of extraordinary heroism in armed combat only. Citizens of the United States and some foreigners who are members of the United States Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard are eligible for the award. Approximately over 3, 500 Medals of Honour have been issued since its institution date.

The Medal of Honor may also be awarded posthumously.

Gold stars may be worn on the ribbon to denote additional awards of the Navy Medal of Honour and a rosette may worn on the ribbon when the ribbon is worn alone. When the ribbon is worn alone, a distinct ribbon with 5 white stars in shape of an “M” is worn for situations other than in full dress uniform.

The Navy Medal of Honor features an anchor suspension bar.

There are multiple versions of the Navy Medal of Honour. From 1861 until 1882, the Decoration was similar in design to the Army Medal of Honor (first version) and was also issued with a ribbon resembling the American Flag. Instead of a surmounting eagle, the Navy Medal of Honour featured a surmounting anchor and rope suspension pendant. In 1882, the rope was removed from the anchor. Further changes were implemented when the design of the ribbon was changed in 1913 to feature a sky blue pattern with 13 white stars. Beginning in 1913, the Decoration was worn from a cravat. From 1913 until 1942, the Decoration was attached to the cravat by a large loop. After the Second World War in 1919, 2 separate awards were issued for combat and for non-combat actions. The original version of the Decoration instituted in 1861 rewarded non-combat actions while a Cross designed by the Tiffany Company (known as the Tiffany Cross) was issued to reward bravery in combat. The Tiffany Cross was awarded until 1942, after which the original design was awarded for combat and awards for gallantry in non-combat situations ceased. In 1964 a large cravat, similar to the Army Medal of Honor (sixth version), was introduced.

There may be additional versions of the Decoration which vary by the obverse and reverse inscriptions and by composition.

Recipients of the Medal of Honor are entitled to, among other privileges, a $1, 259 pension, which is subject to increases in the cost of living wages, and a 10% increase in retired pay.


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