We recently added this medal on our website and thought the history would be interesting to our collectors.
On March 2, 1929, the 70th Congress approved the act to enable the mothers and widows of the deceased soldiers, sailors and marines to make a pilgrimage to the cemeteries. The Pilgrimage Act, as it was called, directed the Secretary of War to determine the total number of women eligible and the number willing to travel to Europe. Responsibility for travel arrangements and tours also fell to the Secretary of War, who had the office of the Quartermaster General of the Army handle the mechanics of the act.
Congress, on Feb. 7, 1930, appropriated $5,386,367.00 to remain available for the duration allowed by the original act. (May 1, 1930 to October 31, 1933.) The 71st Congress approved another amendment on April 19, 1930, directing that the Secretary of War have Major General B. F. Cheatham act in his stead for direction of the Act. A third and final amendment was made May 15, 1930, to make provisions for eligible mothers of those Americans buried at sea or in an unknown grave.
The Commission sought out 18,256 women who are eligible to make the trip under the provisions of the act as amended. Of this total, 6,674 women voyaged to Europe during the three years the U. S. Government handled the pilgrimages.
The United States Lines Steamship Company also issued a medal for the pilgrimages. It is bronze, 38mm, and struck by Tiffany and Company of New York. The medals were presented on a red-white-blue neck ribbon, with an obverse showing a three-quarter view of a steamship in the open sea, at the stern the Statue of Liberty, and at the bow the Eiffel Tower. In the sea below the ship is the date of the first voyages, 1930; above the ship is a five-pointed gold-plated star. The gold star is a separate thin flake, which is struck into the bronze in the correct design position. The extra medal of the star was then darkened to conform with the bronze area around the star. The reverse has the legend:
THE WORLD WAR.
The legend ends in a sprig of leaves, with the logo of the United States Lines Steamship company at lower center. To the right of this is the manufacturer's name, TIFFANY & CO. The edge marking is as follows: BRONZE M (number). The illustrated medal has #1184, which would be too high to have been presented to those only traveling on the SS Washington, and SS Manhattan in their first year. Therefore, to gather more information on the existing numbers in the TAMS members collections I will be conducting a survey. (See the end of the article).
The edge marking is interesting in itself. BRONZE is of course the metal of issue...as a jeweler, Tiffany marked all items made. The number indicates the medal's striking. The Gothic type M will interest you. It was the hallmark of John Moore, who operated the Newark factory which Tiffany bought out in the latter half of the 19th century. As these medals were struck in this very same Newark factory, the M hallmark was placed on the bronze issues as well. The firm of Johnson and Jensen mentions that at the present time, Tiffany used the initial of its president for its hallmark.
Medal on our website
Medal w/ribbon as given