I'm a little reluctant to chime in here and open myself up to a barrage of critique, but I think they are good. The detail is beautiful - The rivets appear to have the same degree of aging and coloration. The fact that the enamel finish is blue / black instead of the black finish that is described in some publications is comforting. It makes no sense to me for anyone to spend this amount of time and effort to produce a fantasy piece. Three stars , or 30 stars, in my opinion, makes no difference the effort to decide if they are real or not. Most if not all of these aviators wings were privately purchased and there were tremendous amounts of creative license when it came to the interpretation of government regulations. You can see it on almost any uniform that are in collections today. It wasn't until AFTER WW1 that the branches of our armed forces started cracking down and enforcing these written regulations.
So come on guys; let me have it!!! - If wings were my thing, I would be buying these wings will everyone else debates their validity. In the end, my criteria for spending MY money for items in my collection, comes when you have to sell it. ------------- If you have to explain to the potential buyer why it's real, then it shouldn't be in my collection. ------------ No exceptions. - I like the wing - everyone has made mistakes, but I'll take the chance on this one. ----------After all it's my money.
Although my opinion on WWI wings means nothing here (but it does to me, and that is all that matters), I would take a chance on them as well if I had the funds right now. The construction, detail, and quality is superb...I believe these characteristics are often referenced as necessities for classification as a "good" wing. As far as patina, some will claim that it can be faked - well sure it can but it cannot be duplicated with absolute 100% perfection, and duplicate the age on a piece the same exact way that time does. Duncan Campbell cites several occasions in his book where he had come across wings never before seen, and he
doesn't automatically dismiss them because they didn't fit comfortably into his comfort zone of collecting. If I am not mistaken, Campbell is often cited as THE source for accurate knowledge because of the fact that he started collecting wings in 1926. It never ceases to amaze me how conveniently regs are used or dismissed to advantage, according to an individuals collecting interest in a certain variant or piece. The regs clearly stated that wings were to be "embroidered" and on a BLUE background. How many WWI wings that we encounter actually have blue as a background? In the short time I have been studying them, a high percentage seem to have black as a background; I guess those are all fakes since they don't conform to that portion of the reg.
Quoting from J. Duncan Campbell in "Aviation Badges and Insignia of the United States Army 1913-1946" pg. 16: "The total number of design variations may never be know, each year, one or two come to light that have not been seen by our generation."
Note, he did not say - when variants come to light, dismiss them as fakes because we haven't ever seen them before.
Another quote from Campbell:
In reference to a wing in his book- "Number 28 is an example of one manufacturer's effort to make a beautiful wing badge with no regard for regulations. The shield is improperly shaped, the wing outline bears no similarity to official drawings, and the stars in the shield are incised rather than embossed."
Note, he did not dismiss it as a fake.
The actual 1917 drawings of wings by Maj. Henry H. Arnold don't conform to some collectors opinions of how large the "US" should be. In the original drawings, they are very small and centered high on the shield, yet time after time, I have heard "the US isn't proportion correctly" or " the US is too big" or "the US is too small"....so the wing is "suspect". Never mind period photographs that show ill-proportioned "US" renderings. Further, the very wing that Arnold wore, had the alternate vertical bars in the shield removed with a jewelers saw before the "US" was applied - non-regulation.
Dennis, you posted a wing here not long ago with a question of originality. There were one or two replies that categorically stated that they were BAD. - why...because of the lack of detail and quality -they didn't fit the criteria of what is original from a collector's point of view. Those wings were in fact proven to be good period wings with period photographic evidence - hmmmm. There seems to be a lot of opinions that have developed over the years as to what is bad, and taken as absolute gospel simply because of word of mouth renderings that have been passed down from generation to generation like a well spun tale.
I do not see how it is possible to categorically dismiss one variant over another when WWI wings have more variants in type, size, quality and construction than most other US badges of the time. The very drawings that created these wings left so much detail out, that it is nearly impossible to automatically discount a wing because there is not really a hard, firm foundation - only general guidelines. This is the point that I have been unsuccessfully trying to drive home for a long time, but when the question of reference is posed, that is a line not to be crossed - why?. Why can't we just say there is NOT a hard and solid foundation provided for so many of our questions? There are other misnomers concerning cast WWI wings that collectors automatically dismiss, but Campbell does not. That is however another topic for another day.
In the end, all that matters is what the individual buying the piece thinks- that is all-nothing more. If you decide to go after it, good luck to you.
Edited by IMPERIAL QUEST, 30 November 2008 - 10:46 AM.