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"Hap" Arnold wore wings made by Johnson Mfg. Company


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#26 rustywings

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 01:17 PM

:think:

Well, did Tiffany really out-source the making of their WW1 wings to Johnson Manufacturing or did Tiffany make them in their own shop? Without access to their archives we won't be sure but Patrick has covered a good number of interesting view points to consider.

I've always thought that Johnson Mfg. made identical wings for Tiffany until Russ brought up the question in post #2 and showed us pictures of his Tiffany and Johnson Mfg. examples. At first the two may look identical but they are not exactly similar and thanks to Russ I still have a few questions to consider.

Yes, in the early 1900's Tiffany out-sourced the manufacturing of some products; however, their whole reputation was built on selling the finest jewelry available to some of the most prominent members of American society and the firm had even been appointed as Imperial Jeweler and Royal Jeweler to the crown heads of Europe and the Ottoman Emperor. Well, with a reputation like that why would such an (aloof) exclusive, independent firm like Tiffany elect to sell a (near) duplicate wing made by an outside vendor like Johnson Mfg. who sold a similar wing in their own store located just 6 blocks away, through their mail order business, and at various Military Base Exchange stores across the country?

Keep in mind that in 1918 American aviators were wearing wing badges that had been designed with the basic requirement that each be three inches wide and have a center shield with letters US on it. With few restrictions, that gave jewelry makers the freedom to create exquisite looking silver badges, some of which had individual elements for two silver wings and center shield with letters US in real gold. Again, we are referring to 1918 when there were few restrictions on how a badge could look, not 1919 when the War Department began enforcing drastic new revisions that limited the shape of wings, removed the letters US from the center shield and required one piece construction, etc.

My point? In 1918 the silver studio at Tiffany was known as the first American School of Design and Teacher of Art Progress. The company also had shops to make their own jewelry. Hence, why would Tiffany choose to sell a Johnson Mfg. wing rather than create and sell an exclusive wing of their own design? It would have been simple for them to do it.

There is one more question on the subject of exclusivity or lack of it. How many manufactures made "Dallas" style wings in 1918? There were at least three that did it which meant two of them pirated or copied the original design. In consideration of how "Dallas" style wings were copied by other firms, should we remain willing to assume that the same thing could not have happen with Tiffany wings? In other words, could it not be that Johnson Mfg. copied a Tiffany wing for their own gain rather than make one with a design all their own?

That last question may remain unanswered for awhile since a request for Tiffany to research their archives to settle the matter would require a fee of $1,000 and can take up to three months to get a respond.

Cliff
.



Cliff, with your approval, I would like to forward excerpts of your statement above, along with some of the ideas posted earlier in this thread, in a letter to the Tiffany & Co review board and see if they would consider helping us with a little archive research without cost. In accessing the Tiffany & Co website and viewing the "FAQ" section, I saw this question:

"How do I access the Tiffany Archives collection to aid my work on a paper, exhibition project or master's thesis?

Reseachers who wish access to the Archives must submit a request in writing. In the letter, please state the nature of your project, your time frame, and the goal of your research. Include a list of sources already consulted. The Archives Committee will review your proposal and will contact you with their decision within 60 days of our receipt of your written request."

I thought I'd submit a request to answer our questions with a reply directly posted to this thread on the Militaria Forum. By forwarding a short cut lead to the Forum website, they could see for themselves this is a non-profit group comprised of many collectors and amateur militaria historians. Seems to me they would preceive their participation as good public relations.

Russ

#27 CliffP

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 02:20 PM

Cliff, with your approval, I would like to forward excerpts of your statement above, along with some of the ideas posted earlier in this thread, in a letter to the Tiffany & Co review board and see if they would consider helping us with a little archive research without cost. In accessing the Tiffany & Co website and viewing the "FAQ" section, I saw this question:

"How do I access the Tiffany Archives collection to aid my work on a paper, exhibition project or master's thesis?

Reseachers who wish access to the Archives must submit a request in writing. In the letter, please state the nature of your project, your time frame, and the goal of your research. Include a list of sources already consulted. The Archives Committee will review your proposal and will contact you with their decision within 60 days of our receipt of your written request."

I thought I'd submit a request to answer our questions with a reply directly posted to this thread on the Militaria Forum. By forwarding a short cut lead to the Forum website, they could see for themselves this is a non-profit group comprised of many collectors and amateur militaria historians. Seems to me they would preceive their participation as good public relations.

Russ

Hi Russ,

By all means please do it.

BTW, yes their internet website says you can expect a decision within 60 days; however, if you call them on the telephone (973) 254-7201 and then press #5 the recording will say that it takes approximately three months (90 days) for them to respond.

One more thing. Once the Archives Committee reviews your request and should they agree that it falls within their guide lines for "Scholarly Research" they may wave the $1,000 fee. Oh, and I would not say anything about the inquiry being for the benefit of "many collectors." Rather that, I would stress something like. . . for the benefit of "serious minded amateur military historians."

Give it a shot, and I hope it works.


Cliff


.

#28 trenchbuff

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 10:30 AM

Here's another twist to the Johnson Manufacturing Co. wing story. This is an example with yet another variation to the US, and back marking.

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  • 005.JPG


#29 trenchbuff

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 10:31 AM

Has the same curve and pin connection.

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#30 trenchbuff

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 10:32 AM

Close-up of the maker mark.

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#31 Jack's Son

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 11:19 AM

Hi Mark,
The US on the shield is one I've not seen before......could this be a custom add-on?
The shape of the letters is different style then the type I have.

It will be fun to learn more about these wings!!

#32 trenchbuff

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 11:28 AM

Hi Mark,
The US on the shield is one I've not seen before......could this be a custom add-on?
The shape of the letters is different style then the type I have.

It will be fun to learn more about these wings!!



I've seen similar USs on other jeweler made wings, but haven't seen enough Johnson wings to know how many had this style.

#33 Jack's Son

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 11:33 AM

Mine are similar to those pictured in "post#2", the lower wing.

#34 rustywings

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 12:22 PM

Close-up of the maker mark.



A hand-engraved hallmark instead of a tool-stamped hallmark gives me concern. May I ask, was this wing available last year at Bob Chatt's show?

Russ

#35 trenchbuff

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 12:31 PM

A hand-engraved hallmark instead of a tool-stamped hallmark gives me concern. May I ask, was this wing available last year at Bob Chatt's show?

Russ


If you saw it in Pomona, it's the one I brought down. As the engraving is typical of the period, it doesn't give me concern at all.

#36 pfrost

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 03:26 PM

If you saw it in Pomona, it's the one I brought down. As the engraving is typical of the period, it doesn't give me concern at all.


To me, these new wings posted by Trenchbuff look like the Tiffany pattern wing with the Johnson MFG Co hallmark. It looks like we have 3 potential variations that are very similar. A Tiffany marked variation (lets call it variation 1). A Johnson MFG Co marked wing that is very similar but demonstrably different from the Tiffany (lets call it variation 2). An a Variation 1 (Tiffany style wing) with the Johnson MFG Co hallmark (but engraved, not stamped).

I have felt that the two patterns are so similar, that the likely came from the same hand when the dies were made. To me, it seems less like one copied the other, but rather both were from the same source.

As for the engraved hallmark, I do share a similar outlook as Russ. That is usually not a good sign. BUT, the wings sure look right as rain to me. Interesting variation, interesting hallmark, interesting wing, all the way around.

Patrick

#37 trenchbuff

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 05:39 PM

To me, these new wings posted by Trenchbuff look like the Tiffany pattern wing with the Johnson MFG Co hallmark. It looks like we have 3 potential variations that are very similar. A Tiffany marked variation (lets call it variation 1). A Johnson MFG Co marked wing that is very similar but demonstrably different from the Tiffany (lets call it variation 2). An a Variation 1 (Tiffany style wing) with the Johnson MFG Co hallmark (but engraved, not stamped).

I have felt that the two patterns are so similar, that the likely came from the same hand when the dies were made. To me, it seems less like one copied the other, but rather both were from the same source.

As for the engraved hallmark, I do share a similar outlook as Russ. That is usually not a good sign. BUT, the wings sure look right as rain to me. Interesting variation, interesting hallmark, interesting wing, all the way around.

Patrick


Well put Patrick. When evaluating wings, insignia or medals I always look at the components before I look at the hallmark. Hallmarks can be faked and are often applied to poor quality pieces for fraudulent purposes. The quality, detail, shape, pin and catch tell the story. All these things are present and correct on this wing. The hallmark appears to have been done by a skilled jeweler and I have seen them applied this way on other pieces of quality jewelry. Although intriqued, I am convinced this is simply another variation, and probably an uncommon variation at that. Hopefully research will uncover the entire story behind these beautiful wings.

Mark

Edited by trenchbuff, 23 February 2012 - 05:40 PM.


#38 rustywings

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 07:01 PM

Hello Trenchbuff,

Last year at the Pomona show you graciously allowed me to closely inspect your WWI pilot wing. Upon first glance, I was impressed with the overall quality and appearance of the wing. I liked the older thick pin on the back and the Tiffany lever-style catch. I liked the toning and patina. I was drawn to the wing's curvature and thickness. And I liked the nice even strike of the "STERLING" stamp on the back.

Keeping in mind that I am neither an expert nor authority on wings, here is why I thought the wing is a very well made cast reproduction after my loop inspection:

As described earlier in this thread, Tiffany & Co wings are slightly larger than an authentic Johnson Mfg Co wings. By using a larger Tiffany wing for the mold, then accounting for roughly 10% shrinkage during the casting, you end up with a wing correctly proportionate in size to a Johnson-made wing. Now inscribe a Johnson hallmark on the back and the deception is covered regarding any size comparisons.

The detail in the feathering and ribs of the shield are softer and lack the crispness normally seen in a die-struck product.

There is something very incorrect about the texture in the field behind the 13 stars. And the somewhat asymmetrical "US" letters applied to the shield appear to be a step down from the quality hardware normally used.

There are three small air holes present, which are consistent with casting. (See the tip of the feather inside the white circle).

Small but rough casting flaws were seen along the lower edge of the wing. (See white arrows).

A little extra glob of silver in the shoulder. (See within the yellow circle).

A couple of the stars are distorted and rounded. Again consistent with a cast product. (See within the red circle).

Mark, please keep in mind this critique is by no means any reflection upon you. I believe these wings were made to fool advanced collectors.

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  • post_944_1330021811_1_.jpg

Edited by rustywings, 23 February 2012 - 07:06 PM.


#39 trenchbuff

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 07:59 PM

Hello Trenchbuff,

Last year at the Pomona show you graciously allowed me to closely inspect your WWI pilot wing. Upon first glance, I was impressed with the overall quality and appearance of the wing. I liked the older thick pin on the back and the Tiffany lever-style catch. I liked the toning and patina. I was drawn to the wing's curvature and thickness. And I liked the nice even strike of the "STERLING" stamp on the back.

Keeping in mind that I am neither an expert nor authority on wings, here is why I thought the wing is a very well made cast reproduction after my loop inspection:

As described earlier in this thread, Tiffany & Co wings are slightly larger than an authentic Johnson Mfg Co wings. By using a larger Tiffany wing for the mold, then accounting for roughly 10% shrinkage during the casting, you end up with a wing correctly proportionate in size to a Johnson-made wing. Now inscribe a Johnson hallmark on the back and the deception is covered regarding any size comparisons.

The detail in the feathering and ribs of the shield are softer and lack the crispness normally seen in a die-struck product.

There is something very incorrect about the texture in the field behind the 13 stars. And the somewhat asymmetrical "US" letters applied to the shield appear to be a step down from the quality hardware normally used.

There are three small air holes present, which are consistent with casting. (See the tip of the feather inside the white circle).

Small but rough casting flaws were seen along the lower edge of the wing. (See white arrows).

A little extra glob of silver in the shoulder. (See within the yellow circle).

A couple of the stars are distorted and rounded. Again consistent with a cast product. (See within the red circle).

Mark, please keep in mind this critique is by no means any reflection upon you. I believe these wings were made to fool advanced collectors.


I'm always open to input. However, they don't look cast to me.

Edited by trenchbuff, 23 February 2012 - 08:04 PM.


#40 trenchbuff

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 08:39 PM

Sorry duplicate!

Edited by trenchbuff, 23 February 2012 - 08:44 PM.


#41 trenchbuff

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 09:35 PM

Hello Trenchbuff,

Last year at the Pomona show you graciously allowed me to closely inspect your WWI pilot wing. Upon first glance, I was impressed with the overall quality and appearance of the wing. I liked the older thick pin on the back and the Tiffany lever-style catch. I liked the toning and patina. I was drawn to the wing's curvature and thickness. And I liked the nice even strike of the "STERLING" stamp on the back.

Keeping in mind that I am neither an expert nor authority on wings, here is why I thought the wing is a very well made cast reproduction after my loop inspection:

As described earlier in this thread, Tiffany & Co wings are slightly larger than an authentic Johnson Mfg Co wings. By using a larger Tiffany wing for the mold, then accounting for roughly 10% shrinkage during the casting, you end up with a wing correctly proportionate in size to a Johnson-made wing. Now inscribe a Johnson hallmark on the back and the deception is covered regarding any size comparisons.

The detail in the feathering and ribs of the shield are softer and lack the crispness normally seen in a die-struck product.

There is something very incorrect about the texture in the field behind the 13 stars. And the somewhat asymmetrical "US" letters applied to the shield appear to be a step down from the quality hardware normally used.

There are three small air holes present, which are consistent with casting. (See the tip of the feather inside the white circle).

Small but rough casting flaws were seen along the lower edge of the wing. (See white arrows).

A little extra glob of silver in the shoulder. (See within the yellow circle).

A couple of the stars are distorted and rounded. Again consistent with a cast product. (See within the red circle).

Mark, please keep in mind this critique is by no means any reflection upon you. I believe these wings were made to fool advanced collectors.


Russ

BTW, I didn't want to fail to mention that I appreciate the way you present your information. It's compelling and thoughful. I would like to compare these side by side with other examples to check several details, especially the ones you mention. Maybe at the Nov. Pomona show again?

Mark

#42 CliffP

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 12:21 AM

This thread manages to get more interesting with each passing day.

A hand-engraved hallmark instead of a tool-stamped hallmark gives me concern.

Russ

Speaking of hallmarks, see the images posted below.

Has any one even noticed how each letter used in the word STERLING on the back of both legitimate Johnson Mfg. Co. badges owned by (1) Russ and (2) myself are out of alignment? At first it's enough to raise an eyebrow or two and make any collector think this is a red herring because it appears that each letter was individually stamped into the back of the wings in order to form a complete word. If the wings were fakes that might normally be true; however, it's just and example of the poor way the letters were added to the tool that Johnson Mfg. Co. used to stamp the complete word STERLING into the back of their wings.

Cliff

Attached Images

  • Two_Johnson_hallmarks.jpg

Edited by CliffP, 24 February 2012 - 12:36 AM.


#43 trenchbuff

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 07:57 AM

This thread manages to get more interesting with each passing day.


Speaking of hallmarks, see the images posted below.

Has any one even noticed how each letter used in the word STERLING on the back of both legitimate Johnson Mfg. Co. badges owned by (1) Russ and (2) myself are out of alignment? At first it's enough to raise an eyebrow or two and make any collector think this is a red herring because it appears that each letter was individually stamped into the back of the wings in order to form a complete word. If the wings were fakes that might normally be true; however, it's just and example of the poor way the letters were added to the tool that Johnson Mfg. Co. used to stamp the complete word STERLING into the back of their wings.

Cliff


Cliff, that brings up another issue. After how many strikings does a die develop flaws which may show up in a wing?

#44 CliffP

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 08:49 AM

Cliff, that brings up another issue. After how many strikings does a die develop flaws which may show up in a wing?

Hi Mark,

There is no set rule on how long a die can be expected to last since it depends on how well it was made. I know of a beautiful made die that cracked after being used just a couple of times but typically a good heated, oil cooled and hardened steel die would be good for making a minimum of several hundred to several thousand beautiful sterling silver wings. Ever see a film on how silver coins are made? The steel dies use for making them are practically indestructible.

Cliff

#45 rustywings

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 12:46 PM

Russ

BTW, I didn't want to fail to mention that I appreciate the way you present your information. It's compelling and thoughful. I would like to compare these side by side with other examples to check several details, especially the ones you mention. Maybe at the Nov. Pomona show again?

Mark



Thank you Mark. I appreciate your comments. I remember admiring many other high quality WWI collectibles at your table and wishing I had a wallet full of cash.

I plan on attending Bob Chatt's show on May 11th, as well as his fall show next November 17th. I'd be happy to bring along my Tiffany and Johnson hallmarked badges for you to take a look at and compare.

Russ

#46 trenchbuff

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 02:52 PM

Thank you Mark. I appreciate your comments. I remember admiring many other high quality WWI collectibles at your table and wishing I had a wallet full of cash.

I plan on attending Bob Chatt's show on May 11th, as well as his fall show next November 17th. I'd be happy to bring along my Tiffany and Johnson hallmarked badges for you to take a look at and compare.

Russ


Thanks Russ. Hope to see you in November.

#47 rustywings

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Posted 19 November 2016 - 11:40 PM

This older thread might be worthy of review for those interested in WWI era Tiffany hallmarked wings...



#48 dskjl

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Posted 15 December 2018 - 11:01 AM

Novice here, what's a johnson wing worth, what should a collector expect to pay?

#49 pfrost

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Posted 15 December 2018 - 12:20 PM

Depends but $2000-3000 range is likely. Perhaps more-- but it's a hard wing to upgrade. Although some dealers would likely ask much more. ( maybe $5000+). And in an auction it would depend on the bidders.

#50 dskjl

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Posted 15 December 2018 - 08:05 PM

Depends but $2000-3000 range is likely. Perhaps more-- but it's a hard wing to upgrade. Although some dealers would likely ask much more. ( maybe $5000+). And in an auction it would depend on the bidders.


Thanks, there was a wing in auction today on emedals that sold for under 2k, looks like somebody got a heck of a deal.


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