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Opinions on this WW1 bullion wing.


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#1 baker502

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 06:05 PM

Just would like to get an honest opinion on this wing. It is similar to the one Imperial Quest has on his uniform he just purchased. Thanks Paul

loose_wings_001.jpg

#2 John Cooper

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 06:25 PM

Paul,

Some larger photos of both the front and back to clearly see the details would be helpful.

John

#3 pfrost

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 06:26 PM

Just would like to get an honest opinion on this wing. It is similar to the one Imperial Quest has on his uniform he just purchased. Thanks Paul

loose_wings_001.jpg


If that is the one off of ebay, I liked it enough to bid against you....

Patrick

#4 baker502

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 06:26 PM

Here are a few others, that I would like to get opinions on, I have had most of them for a long time , picked up when I was still learning..Paul

loose_wings_013.jpg
loose_wings_015.jpg
loose_wings_016.jpg

Edited by baker502, 16 October 2008 - 06:30 PM.


#5 baker502

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 06:29 PM

If that is the one off of ebay, I liked it enough to bid against you....

Patrick


Patrick,
I bought this years ago on Ebay when I first joined, and when the WW1 section was free game for me. It is on a cigar case and has a famous aviators name and unit inked on the reverse. I have no doubt the ink is good, but always had my doubts about the wing.. Paul

#6 pfrost

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Posted 17 October 2008 - 05:03 AM

Hi Paul,

Then this is the 3rd time I have seen this pattern wing show up (yours, Steve's on his new baby, and this one on ebay). I bid on the ebay one (but not crazy money because I still have some doubts), but am a bit put off on the backing material. Still, a close match to yours. My gut is that they are legit wings, but the that is only an opinion. In fact, I see a very similar style wing in Morris' book (WB-14) but the detail in his pictures are to hard to really tell.

As for you other wings you show, I kind of like the on on top, but not so happy with the other two (and for sure not the bottom one). But, it seems like you have as nice a collection of wings as anyone else, so what do YOU think.

Patrick

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#7 baker502

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Posted 17 October 2008 - 05:49 AM

Patrick,
I have always like the top one but have had others dislike it, so it is kept in a unknown box, the others the same. The 1/2 wing looks better fromt he back than the front if that makes any sense. I have been lucky when buying bullion wings, 9-10 time you have to trust your gut. I am thinking about selling the three loose ones on ebay as they are sitting there and not doing much for me.. Will post more photo's of the cigar case, well the rest of it.Paul

#8 pfrost

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 09:17 AM

I am kicking this thread up to the top as another wing in this pattern seems to have come up on an ebay auction (being sold out of the "millionaire" collection). For some reason, they are not showing the detail of this wing on the uniform, but in other auctions, they do show the detail of other wings. But, with careful examination, I believe that this is the same militaria aviator wing style that is shown in a couple of the other posts in this discussion.

Thoughts?

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#9 pfrost

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Posted 02 November 2008 - 02:13 PM

I was looking through an old Wings and Things issue and a pair of wing that are VERY similar to the ones that started this thread were illustrated. These wings are (IIRC) associated with the commanding officer of one of the aero squadrons and I believe the picture was taken at the US Air Force museum. I will try to find that picture again, but I think it supports the idea that these wings are actually WWI vintage.

Patrick

#10 pfrost

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 11:59 AM

I was looking through an old Wings and Things issue and a pair of wing that are VERY similar to the ones that started this thread were illustrated. These wings are (IIRC) associated with the commanding officer of one of the aero squadrons and I believe the picture was taken at the US Air Force museum. I will try to find that picture again, but I think it supports the idea that these wings are actually WWI vintage.

Patrick

So as promised, here is one scan of the wings in question. These are illustrated in the Wings and Things of the World, Number 9, Fall 1989. I believe that this is from the Don Armstrong collection. IMHO, EVERY other single wing shown in this little group (pages 21-29) are perfectly legitimate WWI wings. In fact, the back of this wing (which I did not scan) is very similar to the wing I posted on post #6. It is also very similar to the one that Paul posted at the top of the thread and the one on the RFC uniform.

Because it isn't a really great image of the wing, I guess one could argue that it may not be the same as the others on this thread, but I get a pretty good feeling that they are pretty darn close. You can also see the thread, but I leave it to the readers to decide if they are "outlining" or simply laying across the feathers.

I guess the question remains is this a fake that happened to get into a number of collections, or the real deal? I know that in some of the issues of Wings and Things, a number of questionable wings were presented. Rumor has it that some of this was in an attempt by iffy dealers to "legitimize" their collection ("Hey, my stuff is good because it shows up in Huff's book" type deal). However, all the wings in this particular collection are all pretty dead on right for WWI wings. So, that kind of argues that this is a good one. In another issue of the magazine, this similar wing is shown on a uniform that I believe is part of the USAF museum, but I still need to find that example.

Patrick

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#11 IMPERIAL QUEST

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 02:20 PM

To my eye, it looks like the same one I have, and this one that I found on Bob Schwartz's site:



#12 CliffP

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 02:44 PM

.
That 1917 style Military Aviator wing badge is very questionable.

In Huff's - Wings & Things, Number 9, Fall 1989 issue the back of the embroidered wing badge seem in Post #10 is also shown. It had a back cover. Why would a back cover ever be needed on a WW1 embroidered wing badge? Another fact for concern is the frequency that this badge continues to show up in collections; however, during WW1 a pilot had to have at least three years flying experience to wear the badge or, if an ace ... allow to wear one but only via an Act of Congress. Of the approximately 12,500+ Army pilots trained who received their commission during WW1 prior to the end of hostilities, approximately 40 were ever authorized to wear a MA badge. That is less than 0.32 percent?

A few other reasons adding to a lack of credibility is that among pages 21-29 in that issue of Wings & Things, badge number 13 is hardly creditable, as is number 17. Number 22 is a fake. Number 24 is questionable. Number 27 and number 29 are fakes. Number 31 is highly doubtful because of the rounded edges on its feathers.

-cp

Edited by cpresley, 12 November 2008 - 02:44 PM.


#13 IMPERIAL QUEST

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 03:56 PM

Is it not possible that this type could be the contract/issue type? They are 3'' across according to regs. If they are contract made wings, one would not expect the elaborate detail found in a private purchase example.

#14 CliffP

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 04:05 PM

Is it not possible that this type could be the contract/issue type? They are 3'' across according to regs. If they are contract made wings, one would not expect the elaborate detail found in a private purchase example.


These wing badges would not be contract or issue type badges. Senior officers purchased their badges.

-cp

#15 pfrost

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 04:05 PM

Howdy Cliff,

First, I should correct myself and say that I intended to include pages 21 to 27, NOT the last 2 pages. As those pictures are really cruddy black and white xerox scans of wings, it is almost impossible to tell much at all of them. I do not agree that # 13 is a fake. On the other hand, it seems to me that #17 is very similar to a wing that is shown in Terry Morris' book with a vintage picture (but I may be incorrect, as I do not have that book in front of me right now). I agree that #23 (and perhaps #22), look like bad wings. I have handled a wing like #27 in another collection and I think it is good, but #29 is to difficult to tell as the xerox is both off center and to dark to tell. But, your point is well taken, as reasonable people could argue about wings #22-31, based on the quality of the pictures alone, but that is not the point.

On the other hand, the purpose of this thread was originally to discuss the bullion wing shown on top of this thread. This pattern wing was the subject of a very nice thread about IMPERIAL QUEST'S (http://www.usmilitar...showtopic=28720) new WWI uniform. Some questions were raised about the wing. So, I believe that this thread was started to address some questions about this pattern bullion wing.

It became apparent that this pattern of bullion wing is not uncommon, as Baker has one, I saw one on ebay recently, RFC* (of the million dollar collection) had one on a uniform, what I believe is a picture of this pattern wing in Terry Morris' book, (WB-14), another picture of this wing in Wings and Things (that I included above), an example of this wing posted on Bob Schwartz' site (attributed to the collection of "A.L.) and finally, once I find the reference, I believe a picture of this style wing on a uniform displayed in the Air Force Museum on a uniform that I will post here.

The point of my post was to show that this wing is not an uncommon example and has shown up in a number of places, both as the Military Aviator (with the star) and the Reserve/Junior Aviator without the star. One should remember that the number of aviators QUALIFIED to wear the Military Aviator wing is not strictly limiting on the number of Military Aviator wings that were made. Furthermore, this pattern wing has shown up in some well regarded collections.

Directly addressing this wing, the main problem that some people seem to have with this wing is that the black thread in the wings is used to delineate the feathers. This has been argued as a negative on these wings. However, other WWI bullion wings also show this pattern of thread being used to delineate the feathers. (as discussed here: http://www.usmilitar...howtopic=29382). Of interest, I would also direct people to study the manner in which bullion wings were made just a few years later (a nice collection is shown in the 2nd Silver WIngs book), in which you can see that thread is frequently used to delineate feathers in those wings.

Clearly, these wings seem to use multiple types of bullion thread, show some range of artistic merit, and have shown up in different collections with different amounts of aging and wear and tear. I don't have a dog in this fight and don't really know if these are good or not (but I think they are). Still, in this thread, we have managed to put up a number of examples of this wing pattern. Enough so that some realistic comparisons can be done and some fact based discussions can be had.

Patrick

Edited by pfrost, 12 November 2008 - 04:08 PM.


#16 IMPERIAL QUEST

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 04:37 PM

OK, I am not an expert on bullion wings, so I am trying to figure out a few things concerning these. I guess one of the questions that comes to mind is when, and why did the appearance of thread over bullion become an issue of concern? Also, I am curious as to whether there are any words in the original regs addressing the actual construction method? Additionally, it has always seemed kind of odd that a lot of wings that exceed the 3'' mandated size are not suspect for the very reason that they do not comform to standards (especially ones that measure nearly 4''). I know that regs were not always stringently adhered to, and liberties were taken in the manufacturing, but what is it about this particular style of wing that bothers some collectors so much? Just askin'.

Edited by IMPERIAL QUEST, 12 November 2008 - 04:51 PM.


#17 IMPERIAL QUEST

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 11:32 AM

Anyone?

I am wanting to learn here, and I'm not trying to put anyone on the spot. Speaking in general terms ...I know that most collecting knowledge is based on fact, but sometimes when "Collector X" proclaims a piece to be bad or questionable, that tends to catch on in the collecting community and resonate through the years. All the while, nobody ever asks about the basis for the declaration.

Also, some collectors tend to have a very narrow focus of a type that they are comfortable with, and tend to dismiss most other items that does not categorically fall into what they are comfortable with. I am not saying that is the case here, nor that it applies only to wings. I have seen it many times in other collecting fields as well. I am not intending to be pointed in my remarks, so please don't take them that way. I am just trying to find out where the basis for the disbelief lies.

#18 pfrost

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 11:32 AM

So, I kind of feel like I have beat this thread like "a red-headed step child on X-mas morning" (I have no idea what that means, but my dad used to say that when he thought the arguments were getting moot). Just one last post.

Here is the scan from Wings and Things (#19, Spring of 1992) out of page 11 and 12. I was mistaken, and misread this as a picture of John Huffer, 94th Aero-squadron, taken from the US Air Force Museum. Rather, this is a wing that Russ Huff attributes to John Huffer. In this article, Mr. Huff also provides a copy of a Notarized letter from a Charles Walthall, Ph.D. who says he got the wing from Edward Wischnowski, who got the wing from the estate of an enlisted man who was stationed at an Air Depot in France and how collected wings and souvenirs from pilots who passed through the depot. As provenance goes, its not exactly rock solid, so take it with a grain of salt.

In any case, clearly the same pattern bullion wing as before.

Fake or not? No idea, but at least we have all sorts of examples to mull.

No more posts from me on this thread, I promise.

Patrick

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Edited by pfrost, 13 November 2008 - 11:32 AM.


#19 IMPERIAL QUEST

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 11:50 AM

So, I kind of feel like I have beat this thread like "a red-headed step child on X-mas morning" (I have no idea what that means, but my dad used to say that when he thought the arguments were getting moot). Just one last post.

Here is the scan from Wings and Things (#19, Spring of 1992) out of page 11 and 12. I was mistaken, and misread this as a picture of John Huffer, 94th Aero-squadron, taken from the US Air Force Museum. Rather, this is a wing that Russ Huff attributes to John Huffer. In this article, Mr. Huff also provides a copy of a Notarized letter from a Charles Walthall, Ph.D. who says he got the wing from Edward Wischnowski, who got the wing from the estate of an enlisted man who was stationed at an Air Depot in France and how collected wings and souvenirs from pilots who passed through the depot. As provenance goes, its not exactly rock solid, so take it with a grain of salt.

In any case, clearly the same pattern bullion wing as before.

Fake or not? No idea, but at least we have all sorts of examples to mull.

No more posts from me on this thread, I promise.

Patrick



Patrick,

I don't see that it has been beat to death, there are still many unanswered questions. How else do we learn if we don't ask questions and post examples pro and con?

Also, on Paul's site (www.conradwings.com), there is a wing attributed to John Huffer that shows the same method of thread over bullion on the wing.

Edited by IMPERIAL QUEST, 13 November 2008 - 12:03 PM.


#20 baker502

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 01:04 PM

My thoughts on this wing topic , from the people I learned it from. Construction 101:

loose_wings_007___Copy.jpg

Typical French pattern wing, attributed with excellent provenance

The French pattern wing has traits that carry over in almost every wing.
Point 1, detailed stars, usually X's are executed in bullion or thread and have 13 stars most of the time.
Point 2, 3 rows of bullion to execute the feathers of the wing. this is a common French motif for the US Observer and Pilot badges, you can usually find at least 2 -3 styles of bullion used in the rows on each wing.
Point 3, Detail to the shield and US, the US is very nicely executed and the shield has a defined shape to it, also there is a gap between the shield and wing.


loose_wings_015___Copy.jpg

Questionable wing.
An attempt to be a US style wing.
Point 1, the thread over long strands of bullion used to simulate the feathering. As mentioned in the above posts it is easier for the newer "craftsman" to do this than to use individual strands of bullion to create the feathers.
Point 2, the lack of detail to stars, 3 large X's of bullion to simulate the star pattern, easier to string long strands than the short ones, less time = more profit. also you see the lack of space between the shield.
Point 3, the threads are over not in between the rows of bullion.
Point 4, look at the symmetry of the threads like it was done by machine. If you look at a hand made wing you will see they are symmetrical but there are hand made flaws, not easily noted on first examination.

#21 baker502

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 01:12 PM

post_1519_1224283930.jpg

US made wing, borrowed from the Bullion wing post.

point 1, space between the wings
point 2, an attempt to make 13 stars, typical US pattern style but individual stars not large X's or small dots.
point 3, detailed upper wing
point 4, Black threads between the seperate rows of bullion feathers, not tightly placed over the wing, but loosely places between the defined feathers.

Again these are things that I look at when I am looking to buy, that and gut instinct. The overall patina of the wings, the craftsman ship and wear etc..

Hopefully this helps a bit..Paul

#22 baker502

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 01:17 PM

loose_wings_001___Copy.jpg

The wings in question.

Point 1, lack of detail in shield, stars are small dots, with no attempt at being stars.
Point 2, lack of space between wings.
Point 3, the black thread over the large area of bullion.

These are things that make me dislike the wing, in my opinion WW1 wings have been reproduced for so long its hard to tell when these were introduced into the market, or if they are good.. Paul

#23 IMPERIAL QUEST

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 03:47 PM

Paul,

Thanks for the detailed explanations, much appreciated. But what I am still after is the actual regs or instructions of the period that state for example that the stars must have a certain number of points, or where it is stated that there must be a space between the wing and the shield or if the feathers must be individually separated. I am not trying to be a hard a**...really I am not, I am just trying to find a period source and not a generally accepted theory that has taken hold over time. Again, I do respect the knowledge that collectors have put into the study of the construction of these wings, and I am not totally discounting all that you say and have learned, but from what source is this built upon in the way of period mandates? :) Thanks again.

Edited by IMPERIAL QUEST, 13 November 2008 - 03:58 PM.


#24 baker502

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 04:53 PM

Quoting Terry Morris' book about Wing Badges and unifroms.

" Specifications for the military aviator wing badge of 15 Aug. 1917 called for "two silver embroidered wings on a blue wool/felt background, three inches tip to tip, each wing shall be one and one-eighth inch long and three quarters inches wide at the center ends: Shield three quarters inches high five eighths inches wide with gold letters US one quarter inch high in the center below the horizontal cross lines"..


Theres the regs, your gonna belive what you want about the wings. Its funny how these wings in question are identical to each other like they were machine made? HMMMM.. as all the real bullion WW1 wings were hand made and should look similar but not identical. So question what you want , your going to collect what you want, so I am done with my 2 cents worth. Good luck learning about bullion WW1 wings, I tried to teach you what I was taught from seasoned collectors, and from studing period photo's which don't lie as they were taken at the time, ..again good luck to you and your endevors. Paul

Edited by cwnorma, 13 November 2008 - 08:33 PM.


#25 cwnorma

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 06:13 PM

Gentlemen,

- Morris illustrates a very similar wing as WB-14 on Page 16 (however it has 13 "stars" on it's canton). Morris attributes this badge to a "Lt Keith."
- Huff illustrates similar wings, and attributes them to "John Huffer"
- 1917 Military Aviator (with the star) badges are frequently found in this pattern (with only 40 or so Military Aviators ever--it is unlikely to ever come across a Military Aviators badge).

Now my opinions:

Taking Morris at face value; this is a legitimate WW1 era wing. However, similar to Paul, I have some reservations about this pattern, but my reasons are not exactly the same as his. In general, I too don't like the construction, although I have seen similar bullion techniques in other period items. I do find them to be rather un-lovely in general, and in particular, to my eye, they just don't exhibit the kind of details I would expect from turn of the century bullion work. The second thing that strikes me is that wings in this style are encountered frequently in the Military Aviator configuration (with star). That makes me suspicious. It is unlikely to the point of being nearly impossible to find a Military Aviator Badge. With only 40 or so ever, there just wasn't a lot of call for the badges, and nearly all of them would have been relatively senior, easily traceable fellows. Consequently, any loose, or unattributed, Military Aviator badge (with star) should be viewed with a jaundiced eye. On the other hand, I do believe that this may well be a legitimate WW1 period pattern of wing. Morris (and by extension Campbell) seems to think it is. However, because of the way the originals of this type were constructed (relatively flat bullion construction with simple details) I also believe that this pattern has been a prime target for the fakers. The sheer number of 1917 Military Aviator badges that show up in this style, I think, lends credence to that hypothesis.

There are many, many patterns of WW1 wings. I believe that some of the Junior and Reserve aviator wings that show up in this pattern are legitimate WW1 era wings. At the same time, I suspect that most if not all of the Military Aviator wings in this pattern, and many of the Junior and Reserve wings in this pattern are indeed modern-made fakes. I have a reasonable amount of faith in Morris, mostly because I know that Campbell edited. I have somewhat less faith in Huff. Take that for what you will.


Chris

Edited by cwnorma, 13 November 2008 - 08:31 PM.



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