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WW1 Dallas Wings Real or Fake


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#1 FieryPhantom

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 12:49 PM

I bought these WW1 Dallas wings and was told they are fake. Just double checking cause I was also told of the controversy surrounding them. If anyone can tell me about the controversy and if they are real, I would really appreciate it.

Thanks,
Phillip

dallw.jpg

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#2 FieryPhantom

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 01:42 PM

dallw.jpg

#3 FW12

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 02:15 PM

dallw.jpg



Could we get a photo of the back?

Thanks!

#4 FieryPhantom

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 03:12 PM

dall.jpg

#5 FieryPhantom

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 03:13 PM

dw.jpg

#6 FieryPhantom

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 03:29 PM

BETTER PHOTOSd1.jpg

#7 FieryPhantom

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 03:31 PM

d2.jpg

#8 cwnorma

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 05:30 PM

In my opinion, this is a fake wing.

The main strike against it is the missing detail at the end of the wing tip.

wing.jpg


The fake ones never seem to have this small detail. It is apparently very difficult to get a casting of an area so small.

The originals were die-struck and the detail was part of the die.

#9 pfrost

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 06:08 PM

I agree, it is also a fake, and as said before, the real tell is the lack of beading extending beyond the edge of the wing.

At least 3 or 4 different patterns of this wing type were made with different feather patterns and shield shape (a spade shape shield like this one and a straight sided shield). I believe that BB&B and Eisenstad were two of the makers, but at least a couple of other companies also likely made this type of wing as it was very popular.

Another tell is the finish of the wing. The real ones had a kind of "frosted" finish. These reproduction Dallas wings have a kind of fake "chemical" patina.

Patrick

#10 FieryPhantom

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 08:04 PM

Thank you very much, as a young collector I have a lot to learn. I am just glad everyone on the forum is glad to share there knowledge. I bought these cheap and was told they were most likely fake but was not sure. I am glad just to have them as a filler, as the originals are way out of my price range. Thanks to everyone on the forum for your help. I might be posting some new wings soon, just to make sure they are real. I have just begun collecting wings so it is rather unfamiliar territory. I am more familiar with uniforms and headgear, there are a lot of fake wings out there thanks for the help.

Best Regards,
Phillip

#11 cwnorma

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 08:39 PM

Phillip,

They are an excellent copy, and would fool just about anyone who hasn't handled a lot of wings. They certainly are very attractive, and will make a nice display.

Education is key in this hobby, and I am glad to know that you didn't pay a lot for these. Many more experienced collectors have been "taken" by wings like these.

Cheers!

Chris

#12 doyler

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 09:48 PM

Phillip,
I think they are a nice set of wings a filler in your collection until a set of originals come along.They still are quite attractive for a repo set.

#13 KurtA

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 07:53 AM

On metal wings, all you have to do is look at the "U.S." letters. Originals are always perfectly symetrical and well formed. If they're not (as in this wing) stay away. That doesn't mean perfectly formed letters are always original, but if the letters aren't perfect you can be assured the wing is a fake.
For some reason, fakers do pretty well with the wings themselves, but not those letters.
Kurt

#14 BEAST

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 03:29 AM

This is a repro that is being sold on EBay. Although the seller identifies it as a repro this one looks, to my untrained eye, good enough to fool many. What do you guys think?

REPRO_DALLAS_WINGS.jpg



#15 cwnorma

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 08:53 AM

BEAST,

I hate to open this can of worms (he said as he reached for his P-38) but I can tell just by looking at them that those are made by Joe *************** of *************** Gallery.

The reason his wings look so good, is because he is a master jeweler and casts all his reproduction wings from originals. That said; even he has difficulty reproducing the small balls at the end of the wing tips. Note in the picture how the right hand wing has them but the left does not.

Those would not fool a seasoned wing collector. But I must admit, they probably would fool nearly anyone else. As pfrost pointed out, the finish on the wings is not correct, and being castings, a close examination will immediately reveal them to be reproductions.

Some things to look for when looking at a set of WW1 wings:

Most WW1 era jewlers were experts at their craft. In many cases they had apprenticed for years to learn engraving techniques, die making, metallurgy, etc--the products they made show it. There are three primary ways to make a piece of jewelry; die striking, casting, or sculpting. Each has it's benefits and draw-backs. If a piece called for many sharp and intricate details, die work is generally prefered especially if multiple iterations of the item are to be made. For example, many jewlers use a casting method for manufacturing custom wedding and engagement rings. This type of ring typically does not have a great deal of intricate detail, tends to have smooth, flowing lines, and is typically made in smaller quantities. On the other hand, class rings are usually die struck as they are made in large quantities and have intricate detail. Over the long haul, casting is actually far more labor intensive than die-work as each mold has to be poured , cooled, trimmed, etc individually. Whereas die struck badges can be made as quickly as the machinery can operate. The only really labor intensive part being cutting the die. The final method, hand sculpting is totally labor intensive, and requires the greatest skill on the part of the artisan.

Most WW1 era badges were die struck. Look for sharp edges and "shear marks" where the cutting edge of the male portion of the die sheared the flash from the sides of the design. Die struck badges are made from pure silver ingots. The design will be very sharp in detail especially when viewed under a high power magnifying lens.

The most common method for striking badges was the solid strike, that is, the male portion of the die's is flat and its only purpose is to impress the metal down into the female portion of the die that carries the design and shear the flash from the edges of the item. Another method, not seen as often, is hollow striking where the male portion of the die is a slightly smaller version of the female portion, both carrying the design. The advantage of hollow sriking is that much higer detail can be achieved at much lower striking pressures. The chief drawback being that hollow struck items, being thinner, are not as durable as solid strikes.

On the other hand, the very nature of the casting process causes a loss of detail The surface tension of the molten metal does not allow it to completely flow into the corners of very small intricate details. To a certain extent, this can be ameliorated by using a cetrifuge to help the metal "flow" into the mold. Still even using this method, some amount of detail will invariably be lost.

One of the most difficult things to reproduce with a casting is a perfectly flat area. Because of mettalurical physics, as an alloy cools (even sterling is an alloy) minute differences in the chemical make up of the metal allow it to cool and shrink at slightly different rates. This causes the rippled or "softened butter" look of the backs of many cast wings. Often, small pockets of air will be trapped in the metal, and these will be indentifyable as "pits" when the item is examined under a strong lens.

Also as pfrost pointed out, During WW1, one of the most popular methods of finishing silver was "frosting." This was where the item was immersed in a chemical bath that turned the surface of the silver white. The item was then removed from the bath, dried, and then the highlights were gently buffed. The item was then cleaned again, dried, and a fine lacquer was applied to protect the surface and keep the item from tarnishing. Most of the fake wings out there do not have this frosted finish as it is costly and time consuming to reproduce.

In short, yes, those are a very good reproduction. But if you have handled the originals, you can tell them apart fairly easily. Unfortunately, since WW1 wings are so costly, it can be difficult to obtain enough real ones to form a basis of comparison.

Chris

This is a repro that is being sold on EBay. Although the seller identifies it as a repro this one looks, to my untrained eye, good enough to fool many. What do you guys think?

REPRO_DALLAS_WINGS.jpg



#16 pfrost

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 10:23 AM

Chris has done an EXCELLENT job in describing the making of wings. I think novice collectors would do well to memorize his words.

A bit more on wings:

1) The Dallas wing fakes have been around for some time. I believe it was a company called Pieces of History or Pieces of Time, or something like that, started making these wings many years ago. They are die struck and made just about identicle to the originals except in regards to the finish, the beading, and the cloth covering of the badge. There are actually (IMHO) TWO ways that the beading can tell you the difference between a good and bad wing. Here is a scan of a period photo of a Dallas wing showing clearly the beading going past the wingtips.

First, as mentioned, is the lack of beading extending past the wing tip in most original wings. (NOTE: I have seen more than a few wings in which someone actually broke off the tip of the feather to hide that flaw!). Second is that careful examination of reproductions, the bead string will show that the individual beads are not uniform in shape and spacing. In original wings, the beads are very VERY uniform in shape and spacing. In fakes, the beads will be mishappen (some will be round, other will be elongated) and the spacing will not be exact. Some beads will even merge into each other, forming little blobs.

A cavate. Not all the Dallas wings were made with the beads extending past the tips (see posted photo). I have a variant wing that is similar in the Dallas style, but doesnt have the wing tip extending beads. To be honest, I have shown this wing on the WAF forum and some discussion ensued as to its "legitamacy", but having spent time studing this wing and wings in other WWI collections, and I am sure its ok. (we can always discuss this wing later). One thing, the more common Dallas wings have a "spade shaped" shield, this is a straight sided shield. However, the aging, frosting, workmanship of the beads, etc all point to a period wing.

Finally, with the Dallas wings, they were typically covered in a black or very dark blue woven wool material. Over time, this black tends to fade into a brownish grey color due to the dyes that were used. Most of the original fakes had a felt material that was a dark blue. Artificial aging makes the felt more purplish. Also, for some reason, the stitching never seems to be as tight on the fakes as the originals.

Patrick

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  • dallaspics.jpg


#17 pfrost

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 10:37 AM

Here is another example of a WWI wing that was hand crafted by a jeweler. This wing came right out of the family. As Chris discribed, this wing is totally hand crafted from plates of silver. The shape was cut out with a jeweler's saw and then hand chased. It is actually made out of layers, with the wings in the shoulders being made from seperate applied silver sheets. Interestingly, this particular pattern of wing was also made in a die struck manner by both the Robbins Company and JR Gaunt. You can see some nice examples of this pattern in Pinks and Greens.

The "US" were cut from gold. As Kurt said in an earlier post, the US is another way to tell a good from a bad wing...in general. The kiss of death is when someone added a US from a collar insignia. that was an early way to "cheat" on a wing. Still, the workmanship should always match. I am always amazed when someone puts up a high quality fake with a poor quality US or vis a versa. It should be noted, that on the Dallas fakes, the US is perfect. So a good US is not always a sign of a good wing.

I actually got a second wing like this off of Ebay for a pretty good price because on one wanted to bid on it. One of those situations where knowledge was power.

The man who wore this wing was a real interesting fellow, and one day I will post his story.

Patrick

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  • WWI_pilot4.jpg


#18 pfrost

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 10:47 AM

Finally, a die struck WWI wing. Clearly, this wing is of the highest quality. Thick, heavy, carefully ballanced wing. It is acutally made of 3 pieces soldered together with such care that you can hardly tell. Shreve made a similar wing, but this one is not hallmarked.

If you were to look for all the perfect qualities of a WWI wing, IMHO, this badge has it all. Die struck, top notch craftsmanship, correct hardware, ideal finish and patina. It is hard to beat this wing.

Let me tell you, when you hold this wing and one of those POS Dallas reporductions side by side, the differences really sing out to you.

Patrick

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  • WWI_pilot2.jpg


#19 ADMIN

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 10:52 AM

I must say, this thread has really become quite informative! Great job guys!

#20 pfrost

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 11:32 AM

Here is a side by side photoshop comparison to a fake Dallas wing (top) and good Dallas wing (bottom).

1) compare finish. The fake has a shiny, "chemically" patina-from-a-can look. The original has some of the original frosting.
2) beads stop short on fake, extend past edge on original.
3) You can see casting flaws on the top shoulder feathers in fake
4) line of beads in fake is uneven, flawed, and non-uniform. The bottom wing shows some wear patterns, but you can see the beads are uniform and evenly spaced.
5) fabric on top wing is a modern felt. bottom wing is a wool the color is not quite true due to scanning.
6) Notice that the feathering in top wing looks heavy and crude, while feathering in bottom wing is more subtle and "artistic"

The top wing were captured from an ebay auction.

The bottom wing is a Dallas second pattern observer wing that I recently added to my collection.

P

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  • wingbeads.jpg


#21 pfrost

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 11:46 AM

Finally,

Here is a close up of the "variant" Dallas wing in which the beads do not extend past the wing tips. You can see that the beads are even more fine and the detail even more high quality the the Dallas 1/2 wing from the previous post.

In this wing, there is some "play" in the applied pieces, so the shield and wing edge abut. However, in reality, if this wing was cinched down tighter, it would be more distance between the two.

Note the fabric is a woolen weave, not felt. The beads are all very uniform and evenly spaced. The feathering is fine. The wing was polished, so none of the original frosting remains (on the outside). I took off one of the wings by uncinching it, and the frosting remained on the edges and underside of the wing that was protected from the elements.

Remember, the die for this wing would have been cut by hand by a master craftsman. You can see really see the quality of the workmanship in the details, IMHO. I will be honest, when I first bought this wing at the flea market (for 40$!), I thought it may be one of the Dallas fakes. However, the more I studied it and compared it to known originals, I convinced myself that it was a rare variant. Really, the only two differences were the shape of the shield (straight sided vs spade shaped) and the lack of beads past the tip. I believe that those differences are due to it being a variant, not a fake. But that is just my opinion.

P Frost

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  • dallas3.jpg


#22 BEAST

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 12:29 PM

Chris/Patrick: Your informative posts will probably save some poor sucker (like me) hundreds or more dollars! Thank you very much for posting your examples! I hope this discussion gets pinned as it is anexcellent reference on the Dallas wings.

#23 Rattle

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 02:31 PM

This is a fabulous post http://www.usmilitar...tyle_emoticons/default/thumbsup.gif
Very informative and well presented.

Hats off,
Stephan

#24 APO472

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 10:58 PM

Finally,

Here is a close up of the "variant" Dallas wing in which the beads do not extend past the wing tips. You can see that the beads are even more fine and the detail even more high quality the the Dallas 1/2 wing from the previous post.

In this wing, there is some "play" in the applied pieces, so the shield and wing edge abut. However, in reality, if this wing was cinched down tighter, it would be more distance between the two.

Note the fabric is a woolen weave, not felt. The beads are all very uniform and evenly spaced. The feathering is fine. The wing was polished, so none of the original frosting remains (on the outside). I took off one of the wings by uncinching it, and the frosting remained on the edges and underside of the wing that was protected from the elements.

Remember, the die for this wing would have been cut by hand by a master craftsman. You can see really see the quality of the workmanship in the details, IMHO. I will be honest, when I first bought this wing at the flea market (for 40$!), I thought it may be one of the Dallas fakes. However, the more I studied it and compared it to known originals, I convinced myself that it was a rare variant. Really, the only two differences were the shape of the shield (straight sided vs spade shaped) and the lack of beads past the tip. I believe that those differences are due to it being a variant, not a fake. But that is just my opinion.

P Frost

Are you sure that this is right (read original) for the period in question?

#25 pfrost

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 09:19 AM

Yes, I believe these wings to be WWI vintage. However, I am well aware that these wings are not like the more "typical" Dallas style wings, nor can I find exact examples of this wing in either Terry Morris or Duncan Campbell's books. Also, I believe there was a WAF discussion on this wing a few years ago and some people really didnt like it. But, I am happy with the wing, most of my wing collecting friends who have handled the wing like it, and I have seen other wings in this pattern in another high end WWI wing collections. Finally, I paid 40$ for it in a flea market and it has taken a hell of a beating in its life time. I am not sure WHY anyone one would spend the money to make a wing like this, break it, and then sell it out of a show box?

My point in showing them was to illustrate what I meant about the "beading" on the Pieces of History Dallas wing fakes versus the vintage Dallas style wings. Since I have the 1/2 wing Dallas style observer in my collection, I could make that point with those photos. I dont have the more common Dallas pilot wings, so I added the variant (and I did say that I am aware that not everyone shares my feelings about this wing) to try to further bolster the point about the beading.

As I understand the die-cutting technique, if done by hand, an artisan would have carefully cut out the pattern (in mirror image) in a block of steel using a variety of gouges, burrs, scrappers, and drills. I also understand that some automation may have been availble (re. the Janvier transfer engraving machine) which is the machine that is used to cut working hubs(or dies) for coins from a larger master hub. I am not sure when this machine was availbale, how many companies used it, and if it was used in the WWI time frame. In any case, this is a time consuming and expensive process.

However, making a bead would have been relatively easy, as he would have just had to drill a small rounded hole into the die. Once the silver was stamped into the die, the results would show up as a small bead on the wing. Since he was likely using the same drill bit while making the die, all the beads would logically be the same size and shape. The fake Dallas wings, as Chris nicely described, these are based on casts of an original wing and in this process, much of the fine detail was lost. When you look at the beads of these wings, you can see casting flaws, misshapen blobs, beads that have been merged into two, etc.

The individual parts of the Dallas wings are made from relatively thin silver sheets (I would estimate about a 1-2 mm). From a converstation I had with Art Griegg (the Wing King) and Duncan Campbell (who sadly just passed), these strikes are usually in "cliche". This means that the male part of the die (the pusher) also carries the design, so that the back of the strike has the mirror image of the front (chris describes this nicely in his earlier post). Next, a small U shaped staple is soldered to the inside of the piece and that is what is used to cinch the wing parts to the fabric wrapped frame. These parts were then given the frosted finish and the wing was assempled. Sometimes a very thin bit of crosshatched leather is then glued over the seems on the back of the wing.

Here is another example of a vintage Dallas pilot wing that I pulled off an ebay auction a few years ago. It has some mothing, and has lost allmost off of its original finish, but you can see almost all the characteristics of original Dallas wings.

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  • dallasgood.jpg



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