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Armor Triangles: Real vs. Made For Collectors

Started by tredhed2 , Oct 08 2009 01:02 PM

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#1 tredhed2

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 01:02 PM

An interesting area of affordable collecting to many of us is the standard, US-made, OD border “armor triangle” with two or three digit numbers that have been added to the triangle. These numbers can be embroidered or non-embroidered.

As a long-time armor triangle collector, many times insignia was offered to me that the sellers indicated was a “good piece”. Many times, they have been wrong. Many other collectors have contacted me to ask me if I know whether or not a particular triangle is good, or how to tell a repro from a good period piece. There is nothing wrong with patches made for collectors; they fill holes in one’s collection until the real McCoy comes along. Some people are perfectly happy picking up reproductions, because they are usually inexpensive. A problem arises when a seller has the fair market value of a real numbered triangle on a collector’s copy. Most of us are familiar with the standard core of triangles that everyone seems to have. One point to make clear is that the following information discusses general rules – there are always exceptions. It is simply not possible to describe or even define all of the exceptions – no one person, nor any group of collectors, knows all the answers.

In my experience, the king of repro triangles was the late Jack Britton (of Britton and Washington fame). I had a difficult time finding triangles (more on that later), but he was always selling triangles with added numbers, so on one of my trips back to Tulsa (c. 1979), I visited him at his house. He took me out to his garage, and showed me this humongous filing cabinet –the legal type, with file drawers that are wider than they are deeper. He had trays (like those found at public libraries) with numbers on cards, and there were dozens of each armor patch under each number. I was stunned at the scope, to say the least. He told me that he knew collectors wanted the triangles with added numbers, that there weren’t very many patches that came from vets anymore, and since there were so many collectors who wanted them, he had them made concurrently. I paid close attention to how they were made and kept many mental notes.

Most of us are familiar with the standard core of triangles that everyone seems to have. One point to make clear is that the following information discusses general rules – there are always exceptions. It is simply not possible to describe or even define all of the exceptions – no one person, nor any group of collectors, knows all the answers.

Most of the tank battalions of WW II were separate, non-divisional units. Just prior to the war, only five separate tank battalions were authorized – 70th, 191st, 192nd, 193rd and 194th Tank Bns. At the beginning of the war, a few more tank battalions were designated – on paper. These were the 71st-80th Tank Bns. These battalion numbers were subsequently changed to the 751st-760th Tank Bns. My research, consisting of interviewing as many former tankers as possible, reviewing photographs, and my experience as a collector, has shown only a few battalions had their own separately numbered triangle during WW II – and these are all “woolies”. These were the 70th, 191st, 741st-- 744th, 746th, and 751st. There are many period US-made triangles for separate battalions, and they are all most likely PX patches. The remainder of the battalions were authorized the Armor Force triangle, with no number in the apex. Of course, during occupation duty, many GIs of the battalions with official “non-numbered” triangles had their battalion numbers added. And that characteristic is determinant upon the length of time a particular GI spent on occupation duty. Trust me, those units that migrated home immediately after VE- Day generally they had no particular interest in getting their battalion numbers added to their patches. The units that remained, or the GIs transferred to other units due to points shortages, seemed to have a greater instance of numbers added. For the most part, this appears to have been done on a limited basis, perhaps a particular crew, or even a platoon, or perhaps a company. The exception to the rule is the 778th Tank Bn, with several different variations. Also, after WW II, old tank battalions were redesignated; new tank battalions were activated, and former tank destroyer battalions were converted to tank battalions. Many of these units had numbered triangles. One point to also make perfectly clear – the Army did not authorize the numbers on the patches, except for the above rare exceptions.

First, the sharp collector arms him or herself with some research materials. You want to know when, where, and if a particular unit existed. Stanton’s Order of Battle WW II lists the armor divisions (and their tank battalion elements) as well as all the separate tank battalions that were activated in WW II. The Department of the Army Unit Citation and Campaign Participation Credit Participation lists every tank battalion that was in any theater in WW II. Sawicki’s Tank Battalions of the U.S. Army does an outstanding job of defining activation/inactivation dates and locations.

As I have previously posted, there are several characteristics to look for in made-for-collectors armor triangles. These characterictics apply to standard, U.S.-made fully embroidered armor force triangles. If you have two or more, and you are still unable to make a determination, put it down and walk away if you only collector original insignia.

1) On the front: the numbers are not uniform
2) On the front: the numbers look “fuzzy”, not distinct
3) On the front: you can see a zig-zag edge where the numbers meet the yellow cables of the apex
4) On the front; the numbers are misaligned
5) On the side: one or both sides of the patch where the numbers have been added is/are pinched
6) On the back; the numbers tend to be much thicker/higher than the rest of the embroidery; they noticeably protrude; this characteristic is easily seen as well as felt
7) On the back: there is usually white thread from a pick up bobbin
8) On the back: this white pick up thread GLOWS
9) On the back; there may be newspaper, thin gauze strands or a thick white gauze square; the white pick up thread and this gauze all GLOW

Due to the many different skilled tailors and seamstresses in many different occupation locales, and because I don’t have them all or have not seen them all, the purpose of this thread is not to depict original period examples of a real numbered triangle. The purpose is to depict the typical, made-for-collectors armor triangles so often found for sale. Based on the above list of characteristics of what constitutes a bad patch, an astute reader can make his/her own determination of what a good numbered triangle should look like. EXCEPTION: if you find a dealer who has numerous armor triangles with none of the above characteristics, but the numbers all look to have been made at the same time and/or place, then put them down and walk away.
See how many characteristics YOU can find with these bad boys.

Attached Images

  • tri5_front.jpg

Edited by tredhed2, 08 October 2009 - 01:06 PM.


#2 tredhed2

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 01:03 PM

backs 3/4

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  • tri3.jpg
  • tri2.jpg
  • tri1.jpg


#3 tredhed2

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 01:03 PM

back 4/4

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  • tri4.jpg


#4 tredhed2

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 01:41 PM

Thanks.

And if anyone has something else to add, please do so. We all have diff collecting experiences.

#5 Jim Baker

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 05:50 PM

Fake SMC. They may not exist at all.

_BcH8cm_BWk___KGrHqEH_D0EquEbDjSjBKzJjgiDj____3.jpg

_BcH8fbg_mk___KGrHgoH_DEEjlLl0zoyBKzJjtRl0Q___3.jpg

#6 tredhed2

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 10:40 AM

There is a seller on ebay - jes36 - who has listed a large number of patches as dicussed in this thread. (Not all of the armor patches listed are made for collectors - most are, but not all. I want to stress that). I emailed this seller and said that it is not possible for every seller to know everything about every single insignia, and incl this thread, and asked for a response, and two days later there has not been one. I like to wait for a response out of fairness, but the seller has evidently chosen to ignore the message.

Please review the postings and save a few of the pix for yourselves. The listing text is suspect, too, from the unit IDs on down. The opening bids are very inexpensive, so it might be a good idea to buy one or two and save them to carry around with you. Pix are nice, but an actual insignia is a far better teaching tool. This last sentence is not to provoke an argument re: giving the seller encouragement re: sales, but an inexpensive way to learn, especially if you attend shows. Having one of these in hand could save you $ - and the prices of triangles w/ real period added #s continues to climb.

Edited by tredhed2, 16 October 2009 - 10:45 AM.


#7 tredhed2

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 11:11 AM

The first image is that of a good 16th Armor Gp SSI, and the only type you should ever buy (selller: rick27rod).

The image on the right is the first 16th Armor Gp patch (seller: toad389) that I have ever seen made for collectors like this (his TTC is also made for collectors, but the rest of his armor patches are good):

Attached Images

  • 16th_group_real.jpg
  • 16th_group_fake_toad398.jpg

Edited by tredhed2, 22 October 2009 - 11:15 AM.


#8 tredhed2

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 01:25 PM

Another bad one, and this one is diff - note the pink pick up thread on the back of the numbers.

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  • bad_4_35_front.jpg
  • bad_4_35_back.jpg

Edited by tredhed2, 10 December 2009 - 01:29 PM.


#9 Jim Baker

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 01:39 PM

Real V Corps:

V_Corps.JPG

V_Corps_Early.JPG

#10 Jim Baker

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 01:41 PM

Real XVIII Corps:

XVIII_Corps.JPG

#11 tredhed2

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Posted 07 January 2010 - 09:27 PM

Depicted is an example of a new type of WW II triangle currently made for collectors. The other units that I know of are S, O (have no idea what unit that is supposed to be) and an incomplete 743rd (missing lightning bolt, cannon, tracks and bogie wheels). Sorry, don't have color images. All of them have OD colored cloth backs. There may be others.

Attached Images

  • Fake_709th.jpg

Edited by tredhed2, 07 January 2010 - 09:29 PM.


#12 tredhed2

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Posted 17 January 2010 - 08:00 PM

The astute collector will note that the following patches - 131st Tank Bn, 174th Tank Bn, 737th Tank Bn, and 747th Tank Bn served during diff time frames; the 131st and 174th post Ww Ii (1950s +) and the 737th and 747th in WW II. Note that from the front, they all look great (esp. on line, which is why many of us suggest attending shows to physically examine insignia). One even looks "used". When you look at the backs, you will note that they are all made exactly the same. There is no logical military reason for this. There is nothing wrong with purchasing them as "examples" of insignia which may have been worn, but don't accept that they are period originals. There are probably many others out there, perhaps in collections but collectors who don't have the information Forum members have.

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  • fake_131_front.jpg
  • fake_131_back.jpg


#13 tredhed2

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Posted 17 January 2010 - 08:03 PM

174th Tank Bn

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  • fake_174_front.jpg
  • fake_174_back.jpg


#14 tredhed2

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Posted 17 January 2010 - 08:04 PM

737th Tank Bn

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  • fake_737_front.jpg
  • fake_737_back.jpg


#15 tredhed2

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Posted 17 January 2010 - 08:04 PM

747th Tank Bn

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  • Fake_747_front.jpg
  • fake_747_back.jpg

Edited by tredhed2, 17 January 2010 - 08:07 PM.


#16 tredhed2

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 12:32 PM

These are some more that are made for collectors. Note that they are ALL made exactly the same way. What are the chances that these units would choose the same manufacturer? There are many more out there like these.

Attached Images

  • fake_237th_AFA_front.jpg
  • fake_237th_AFA_back.jpg
  • fake_149th_rcn_co_back.jpg
  • fake_149th_rcn_co_front.jpg

Edited by tredhed2, 17 May 2010 - 12:33 PM.


#17 tredhed2

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 11:41 AM

It is evident those who offer these patches made for collectors have seen examples of really bad pieces and have tried not to make their offerings look so obvious.

Attached Images

  • fake_37th_tank_bn_buchanan.jpg
  • fake_121_tank_bn_buchanan.jpg
  • fake_709th_buchanan.jpg


#18 tredhed2

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Posted 09 July 2010 - 10:13 AM

This is similar to those in posts #23-26

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  • fake_736th_front.jpg
  • fake_736th_back.jpg

Edited by tredhed2, 09 July 2010 - 10:26 AM.


#19 tredhed2

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Posted 29 July 2010 - 11:58 AM

More, similar to post #28. Seller even refers to 8th Armored Group as "8th Armored Cavalry".

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  • fake_701st_tank_bn.jpg
  • fake_8_GP.jpg


#20 tredhed2

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Posted 29 July 2010 - 11:59 AM

This is about the crappiest made for collectors SMC variant I have ever seen.

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  • fake_SMC_front.jpg
  • fake_SMC_back.jpg

Edited by tredhed2, 29 July 2010 - 12:00 PM.



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