Again, a number of thoughts.
Not that I have done any scientific surveys on this, but my impression is that only about 25-50% of WWI wings are actually hallmarked. Of the 5-6 WWI metal wings I have only 2 are actually hallmarked. In other collections I have had the opportunity to study, that is about the general range, with 25-50% actually having a hallmark on them.
Shreve, Haltom, Homorichius, Eisenstad, Tiffany, Johnson Manufacturing Co, Meyers, Link, Gaunt, and I am sure a few others I am forgetting all used hallmarks on their wings. But, I have yet to see a single hallmark on any of the Dallas style wings, for example. Of the hallmarked wings I have seen, not a single one had the manufacturer's name engraved on it, as they are almost always either part of the die or added later with a punch.
Wings that ARE engraved, are usually engraved with some sort of dedication or presentation. The person paid extra for this and as such it was intended to be seen by someone. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that a wing engraved as a presentation piece would have a higher level of skill and workmanship. That is why people tend to use the quality of the engraving on an engraved wing to assay its legitimacy. As to other engravings, such as monograms on silverware, again, that was intended to be seen.
This wing, is not engraved with a presentation or dedication. Just the name of the maker. While it clearly doesn't show all the flourishes and do-dads that one my expect if this was an expensively engraved presentation wing, it does show some skill. The engraving is neat and regular. The "Bley and Hornstein" is on a curve with "Chicago" underneath. Everything is centered and the lettering is very fine. It seems to have aged along with the wing in general.
Finally, I have noticed that their seems to be a consensus that all WWI wings have to achieve some very high level of craftsmanship and workmanship to be considered legitimate. This is partially true because most of the WWI fakes were made by guys with almost no skill or craftmanship and as such stick out like a sore thumb, and the vast majority of the other fakes (those made by castings from original wings) lack the detail of the originals. But, a number of vingate WWI wings were made that lack a great deal of refinement. I think you have to imagine that their exists a grade of workmanship with a low end and a high end. We all love the high end wings and tend to bias ourselves towards that side of the spectrum, but when that bias starts to be used to select against wings that fall on the other end of the spectrum, then you run the risk of making a mistake. I see that especially in WWI bullion wings, were people decide on one or two characteristics that they like in a wing, and tend to select for those characteristics. I also know a number of people who decide on a WWI wing based on the "US"...apparently deciding that the "US" on a good wing is always going to be high quality. But in fact, you see a range of quality in the US. As a scientists by trade, I have to be very careful in seperating assumption and bias away from fact and truth.
I think the discussion about the engravings represents a similar risk. I am not saying that the engraving is good or bad, but to say it doesnt come up to what we expect is should be based on some assumptions we have made (especially in comparing what one expects on a presentation style engraving), represents a logic trap.
Just my musings.
Edited by pfrost, 13 December 2008 - 09:44 AM.