I must say I must be exceptionally stupid, because I am not sure what "story" we are talking about. At the start of this thread, the implication was that something fishy was going on with this auction. It turns out that the wing was being sold by the son of the woman who owned the wing originally. It seems that the wing and some of the insignia were sold to George Connell who was a known collector of WASP wings in the 70's and 80's... who also engraved the wings with the woman's name and class once he bought them. I assume that Robert Acher bought the wings back from Connell and now is trying to sell them again as his family has no interest. That doesn't seem that hard a "story" to understand. Heck, I don't collect WASP wings and I knew at least some of the story about Connell's propensity for engraving the wings he bought. I suspect that just about any serious, high end collector of WASP stuff know this story as well and isn't going to say "Boy, I'd pay good money for Ms Acher's wings, but to bad Connell got to them first 30 years ago and ruined them for me... I'll just wait for the next ID WASP wing to show up on eBay that I can buy real cheap".
The negatives (such as they are) is that some jeweler polished them (he obviously didn't use a grind stone--more than likely a light buffing on a wheel--and), and replaced the broken pins on the back (which are just that--small pins, its not like they put in a commonwealth style pin and catch). Yes, Connell had the wings engraved, but a fair number (if not all) of WASP wings that he bought all seemed to have the same fate. I don't like that either, but what can you do? In fact, you can see much of Connell's original collection of WASP wings in Jon Macquire's second wing book (via "Bender", who I assume is the current owner). I also suspect that the reason that the back of those wings weren't shown is that they are all engraved with the WASP's name and class. Be that as it may, it is not a "story" that some dealer is making up. You can probably check each and ever aspect of the wings provenance.
So what you have on this ebay auction is a perfectly legitimate and vintage WASP wing that is coming out of the family and likely has solid provenance. It has been polished and repaired, and a collector engraved the wings. Is it worth $1700? Maybe, watch and see.
Frankly, if you get a notarized letter from the son explaining the history of the wing then you are going to have a more solid provenance than just about 100% of the other wings out there.
As for value... Bob's right, you pay what you think its worth. But I am sorry, I just don't understand the argument that some how this isn't a stunningly cool wing with a pretty neat history.
But, I must just be slow and contrary tonight.
PS I am also reminded of a few collectors of equally rare wings that likes to have them in their polished state--as opposed to being all grimy and tarnished. Just saying...
Edited by pfrost, 10 June 2013 - 10:03 PM.