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  Lovell's Presidential Medal of Freedom

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Author Topic:   Lovell's Presidential Medal of Freedom
Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-05-2007 03:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Okay, so it's not the medal but rather the one Lovell was supposed to receive until a blemish was noted and it was replaced:

Presidential Medal of Freedom James A. Lovell Apollo 13

It's still quite the find and judging by the bidding, there are quite a few readers here who agree...

Jacques van Oene
Member

Posts: 715
From: Houten, The Netherlands
Registered: Oct 2001

posted 01-05-2007 02:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jacques van Oene     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This listing (120070583787) has been removed or is no longer available. Please make sure you entered the right item number.

KSCartist
Member

Posts: 2488
From: Titusville, FL USA
Registered: Feb 2005

posted 01-05-2007 02:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KSCartist   Click Here to Email KSCartist     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well it was there this morning and the seller did say he's cut the auction short if he was blown away by an offer.

Since it was over 3K when I saw it, he must have been "made an offer he couldn't refuse." Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-05-2007 09:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It has been relisted. According to the seller, "The new format complies with ebay policies."

Oddly enough, the change (other than being shortened to a three-day auction) seems to have been to remove all mention of Lovell...

nelyubov
Member

Posts: 114
From: USA
Registered: Sep 2003

posted 01-06-2007 04:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nelyubov   Click Here to Email nelyubov     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As a former collector of medals and decorations, I can say that this is a once in the lifetime opportunity for someone. Presidential Medals of Freedom are rarely ever encountered on the market as supplies are very strictly held by the White House and produced in very small quantities just before presentation to recipients.

I am somewhat doubtful about the engraving to Lovell though. But that aside, the value of this decoration is somewhere around the $5-8 thousand dollar range. If it sells below this figure then someone will get it as a "steal". Wish I had the $$ to bid.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-06-2007 04:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by nelyubov:
I am somewhat doubtful about the engraving to Lovell though.
Can you elaborate on this? Is it that the medals are not usually engraved with the recipient's name?

The original listing included a photograph of the medal's inscription that clearly displayed Lovell's name.

nelyubov
Member

Posts: 114
From: USA
Registered: Sep 2003

posted 01-08-2007 06:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for nelyubov   Click Here to Email nelyubov     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The engraving could have been made by anyone. The Presidential Medals of Freedom are extremely rare and very expensive. Hence their value is in the $5-10 range depending on the recipient.

I have seen unengraved medals offered for sale but very few as they are not supposed to be for sale to the general public like so many other US medals. But rarely an engraved one. These are always engraved just before presentations — the engraving on this particular medal does look like the others I have seen.

And these medals are closely maintained by the White House and the company that produces them so that no unengraved versions reach the market. Those that do usually have been stolen from the company.

I find it hard to believe that someone just walked away with one — even though the case was damaged. The medal would have been returned to the company for the removal of the engraving and fixing of the case.

This person auctioning it should not have just taken it home without some questioning as to what happened to it. I am not saying it is not real — It certainly is a real PMOF but I have my doubts as to how this person obtained it and whether the name was engraved later to make it more valuable.

This happens all the time in the hobby of medal and decoration collecting. I would very careful to say it was really made for Jim Lovell and withdrawn. Most likely someone engraved it later to make it more valuable.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-09-2007 12:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The seller stopped and restarted the auction yet again, this time using the subject line Presidential Medal of Freedom Apollo 13 Astronaut NASA but still omits Lovell's name. Instead he writes, "If you want to know you the Astronaut is you can send an email."

Mark, thank you for sharing the additional details regarding your concerns.

Rick Mulheirn
Member

Posts: 2457
From: England
Registered: Feb 2001

posted 01-09-2007 09:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am intrigued as to why Jim Lovell's name is now not mentioned on the re-listing.

It cannot be the result of questioning the legitimate ownership of the medal; if that were in question I doubt it would be listed at all.

I just wonder whether there has been some kind of intervention on behalf of the Lovell family?

Rick Mulheirn
Member

Posts: 2457
From: England
Registered: Feb 2001

posted 01-09-2007 10:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I asked the seller why no name second time round. The response as follows:
Rights of Publicity, I am not allowed by eBay rules to list his name. That is was they pulled the listing.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-03-2007 11:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
collectSPACE
FBI recovers astronaut's missing medal

A Presidential Medal of Freedom that was prepared for award to Apollo 13 astronaut Captain James Lovell, Jr., and which was missing since 1970, was recently recovered by the FBI, the bureau's Chicago office announced on Tuesday.

nelyubov
Member

Posts: 114
From: USA
Registered: Sep 2003

posted 04-04-2007 06:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for nelyubov   Click Here to Email nelyubov     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am not surprised with this story. As I posted earlier, the PMOF is extremely rare and unengraved versions are never released to the public as other medals can be. The only ones that have ever been sold are those owned by recipients or their families.

Selling a PMOF is not illegal but selling an unawarded one is. These are ordered by the White House on a "needed" basis and are engraved just before presentation. Any "stock" that may exist at the White House are very strictly controlled.

This one obviously was taken without permission. Hence the reason is it being recovered. The company that produces the PMOF is not allowed to sell these to the general public like other medals. Hence your only way to get one is to buy it from a recipient who is willing to sell it. Which has been done without any problems.

But as I stated in the earlier post, these can go for up to $10-20 thousand dollars depending on the recipient.

benguttery
Member

Posts: 542
From: Fort Worth, TX, USA
Registered: Feb 2005

posted 04-04-2007 07:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for benguttery   Click Here to Email benguttery     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would love to know the whole story on this medal. No doubt some staffer at the White House asked his boss if he could have the scrathed medal just as someone takes a nice looking centerpiece after a party. His boss, not caring and looking for the next political event, probably didn't care if it was trashed. Do you think it is really illegal to own an untitled one of these? Really doubt it; show me the law or code. Hope we get to know the whole story one day.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-04-2007 07:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by benguttery:
Do you think it is really illegal to own an untitled one of these?
From our article:
Since the medal still technically belongs to the White House, the collector's possession of it amounts to theft of government property.

The sale of a Presidential Medal of Freedom isn't illegal or unprecedented. Actor James Cagney's medal was auctioned in 2000 for $51,000. The difference is that the Pennsylvania dealer didn't own the medal. "It's legal," said Agent Brusokas, "only if you have good title to it."

nelyubov
Member

Posts: 114
From: USA
Registered: Sep 2003

posted 04-04-2007 07:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nelyubov   Click Here to Email nelyubov     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It is not illegal to own either type of PMOF — engraved/presented or un-engraved stock. The company that produces the medal is not allowed to sell them to the general public as other medals can be. However if a recipient wants to sell one that is fine.

Also un-engraved "stock" medals were produced in the 1960's and were sold to collectors — but very few of the them.

Since that time the company no longer continues that practice on the instructions of the White House. However, if an institution that has a "display" medal wants to sell it, that is perfectly okay. So owning and selling them is not illegal. But the company will not sell them to the general public.

Hence the only way to get one is to wait for a recipient to sell theirs or get a "display" version that was released to the public in the 1960's — and there aren't that many that were.

The problem with the "Lovell" medal is that all medals at the White House are "owned and purchased" by the government and no one has the right to "just take one home."

The same holds true for the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. Unlike the Medal of Honor for military services, the Space Medal of Honor can be bought and sold very freely. Unfortunately only Ed White's has ever been for sale in the recent auction posted here.

In the 1970's the Medallic Art company which produced the Space Medal of Honor (PMOF as well) only manufactured 20 medals in their original order from the White House. In addition to the original six presented in 1978, Young, Stafford, Lovell, White, Chaffee and Shepherd there were a couple of these 20 that were used as "display" versions that now reside in museums such as the Navy/MC Museum.

When the Columbia crew were to receive theirs the White House had to place another order of 20 as they did not have enough supply to present to the seven families. Based on the fact that the Challenger crew received one and Crippen, this means that around ten still exist in a White House vault waiting to be presented.

If someone "just took one home" they would be considered thieves. And that is why the FBI wants to investigate how the Lovell PMOF just went home with someone.

All times are CT (US)

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