The Selling of Military Awards and Medals

The selling of military awards and medals.

Should the selling of military awards and medals be legal? Is it currently legal? These are great questions with a multitude of answers and opinions.

I get the opportunity to write this article from a unique perspective. First off, I am a veteran. Secondly, I am a picker, someone who buys and sells antiques online and offline. I buy and sell many different types of collectible things to include vintage clothing, jewelry, military items, books, postcards and more.

I hope to provide a fresh perspective to this interesting topic.

Soldiers LOVE Their Medals

First and foremost, soldiers take pride in the awards and medals they earned and received. They are prized possessions for most soldiers. I personally have never met ANY current or former soldier who would depart with their military awards. There might be a few out there who would; I’ve just never met any of these folks.

Talk to any elderly veteran in their 80’s or 90’s, and they still cherish EVERY military award they’ve received, no matter how small.


Where things get complicated is when people die. Unfortunately, not all family members are passionate about keeping family keepsakes. What might have been vitally important to Uncle Joe might be absolutely meaningless to the grandchildren who inherit his estate when he dies.

If he’s lucky, his grandchildren are sentimental and will keep his awards and display them, but it’s not normally the case. In many cases, when someone inherits an estate they actually THROW OUT many of these things, sell them at a yard sale, or donate them to a Goodwill or charity. Sad, but true.

Selling of Military Awards and Medals

The Selling of Military Awards and Medals: Legality

After doing some research online, this is what I found concerning the legality of selling military awards.

It is illegal to buy, sell, barter, or manufacture any decorations or medals authorized by Congress for the United States armed forces.
In General.— Whoever knowingly purchases, attempts to purchase, solicits for purchase, mails, ships, imports, exports, produces blank certificates of receipt for, manufactures, sells, attempts to sell, advertises for sale, trades, barters, or exchanges for anything of value any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the armed forces of the United States, or any of the service medals or badges awarded to the members of such forces, or the ribbon, button, or rosette of any such badge, decoration or medal, or any colorable imitation thereof, except when authorized under regulations made pursuant to law, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.
Title 18 U.S. Code § 704 (Public Law 113-296).
To me, this law is a little bit confusing, because if you visit eBay, any auction, military surplus store, thrift store, or yard sale, you will normally find some type of military awards for sale.

Selling on eBay

When I visited eBay just now, and typed in military medals, I came up with 10,772 military medals listed for sale. When I went to completed listings, I noticed that 4,060 military medals have been sold during the past 90-days. This information is as of June 14, 2019 at 3:30 pm EST.

Out of curiosity, I Googled eBay’s policies on selling military items, and this is what I found.

The medals you can’t sell on eBay are specifically spelled out in the Government IDs and Licenses Policy :

Here’s eBay‘s statement in that policy on military medals:

Not Allowed:

Government-issued medals and certificates for medals, including the Air Force Cross, Congressional Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, Purple Heart, or Silver Star. This also applies to a medal’s associated buttons, ribbons, or rosettes.


From the sounds of it, you can sell any other military medal, as long as it is not listed above as a prohibited item.

My Two Cents

I personally believe someone should have the right to sell military awards and medals online, especially if they earned them or if the recipient of that award is deceased, or if the medal is no longer wanted. If I received a medal from the government for something I did, I would consider the medal MY PROPERTY.

I also don’t see a problem with letting COLLECTORS purchase these military medals. As long as the person is not WEARING the medals, and claiming they earned them, I think it should be allowed.

After all, why not let the military medal or award go to a good home, where it is wanted and be can preserved and enjoyed? I think that’s a lot better option than throwing the medal away like a piece of trash.

The only exception, in my opinion, should be if the items were stolen.

More than 3,450 men have been awarded the Medal of Honor

Final Thoughts

There you have it folks. These are my thoughts, plus what I could find online about selling military awards and medals. What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree with me? Leave a comment below to let me know what you think. I look forward to hearing from you.

7 thoughts on “The Selling of Military Awards and Medals”

  1. Randy Blackburn

    My father was a retired Air Force Colonel he passed away years ago. I inherited a dozen metals from Destinguish Flying Crosses and Silver Stars. They are in a box.i also have a cloth flying helmet complete with headset and goggles along with Geneva Convention documents. What should you do with this stuff?

  2. Not knowing about any prohibitions about medals, I bought a WWI victory medal at a yard sale. I don’t know anything about the medal’s pedigree, but clearly the recipient is deceased as the war ended over 100 years ago. What should I do with it? Maybe donate it to a museum?

  3. Rosemary Shoemaker

    I am a volunteer at at Florida non-profit thrift store and have been listing products on Ebay for them. Recently a donation box contained several items from a decorated Career Army veteran. Along with medals there are several certificates, a Jump log that spans from 1951 to 1973, hats (including an aged Green Beret) and several other items. A copy of his 2015 obituary was also in the box. It appears that he left no family.

    If you contact me I’ll send a link to obituary that gives details of his career. Would you send a link to your resale site. I’d be interested in how to list without being irreverent.

  4. Stevenmiller

    I inherited a purple heart from a person I cared for is there a place to legally sell with paperwork from purple heart recever just wondering she had no family to pass along

    1. Steven R Riddle

      If you’d like I’m sure one of your local vet orgs or local historical society would be pleased to have them. Or maybe if it’s still around her old school etc

  5. Richard VanOrsdale

    My great grandfather was awarded a Silver Star Certificate in 1921 for action in Cuba in 1898. I would love to have a Silver Star to put in the shadow box with his photograph.

    1. Brian Curbow

      I am almost certain that if you provide a copy of your great grandfather’s Silver Star certificate to them, they would be honored to sell you one for your shadow box. I used them to purchase a few medals awarded to my grandfather for his service in WW2 with the United States Marine Corps in multiple campaigns in the Asian Pacific… including Iwo Jima.

      Best of luck my friend.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!