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Everything posted by pfrost

  1. I always felt that the idea that Noble was only a pre-war company to be suspect, myself. It is good to see some actual proof of this. Still, a very handsome pattern of wings.
  2. Finally, at some point I followed up with Ms Hoover. It is possible that there is a Mexican connection but there is also a connection with the SW manufacturing as well. Since Lampl didn't seem to actually be a manufacturer, I suspect that they had Bell or a Bell-related "jobber" make their wings. ************** I do recall our conversation. You've been very helpful to my research. I see a number of issues in this thread. I'll do my best to help clarify things... The Walter Lampl company was based out of New York. It existed at 4 different locations over the lifetime of the company. Walter, Sr. died in 1945. His widow inherited the company and it was managed after his death by his eldest son, Walter, Jr. Walter, Jr. was in Europe during WW2 and had limited contact with the family business before he assumed management as a very young man, after the war. As far as Walter, Jr. and his younger brother, Burt, knew, the Lampl business never manufactured anything. All manufacturing was done by jobbers. Jobbers worked in a variety of places. Lampl jewelry was manufactured by jobbers in Attleboro, provenance, and Newark before the war. Lampl imported carved stones from China before the war. The New York offices were wholesale offices and/or showrooms only. Lampl didn't exactly move his business to Mexico during the war. Rather, he had an agent in Mexico City who dealt with local manufacturers, shipping, customs, etc. During the war Lampl sold some jewelry which was obviously Mexican in style and theme. He also sold some jewelry which showed obvious signs of Mexican craftsmanship. I have only seen one pair of pins which were actually marked Walter Lampl Made in Mexico. I just looked on the website and in our archives for this pair of brooches and it seems to have disappeared. I'll have my husband look for it in the database tomorrow. I don't believe they sold... I have seen other examples which I believe were almost certainly made in Mexico which are not marked that way. Here are a few examples: http://www.milkywayjewels.com/brooches/DG134138.html http://www.milkywayjewels.com/brooches/BC138174.html http://www.milkywayjewels.com/hair/BK196162.html I don't know whether the gold work in this ring was made in Mexico, but the cameo was certainly carved there: http://www.milkywayjewels.com/rings/AA195293.html There are ways to get around the issue of import marks. The most obvious is to import parts, rather than finished items. During the war American jewelry businesses were forced to find all kinds of ways to bend the rules to get the materials and resources they needed. When I get my book written (which is now completely outlined and has an introduction!) I will explain a couple of ways the Lampl company stretched these regulations. I don't think there is any way to know whether the wings, specifically, were made in Mexico or in the U.S. Lampl continued to have some jewelry manufactured in the U.S. during the war. There were problems with supply and materials, however. In April of 1943, Lampl announced in an ad that their "toolmaker's bench has been closed for the duration" and implied that they would not be able to continue to produce new designs. Then, in November of 1943, he announced a "complete line of distinguished Mexican jewelry - from our branch in Mexico City". I have many more details about how this all worked, and I'll be including those in the eventual book. Some jewelry continued to be made in the U.S., but not all. If "***************" has information about the factory in Newark, I would love to know more about it. I know that was one of the places where Walter, Sr. had jewelry made, but it was by no means the only place. I hope this helps to clear things up a bit. This is all ongoing research, and I would love to hear from anyone who has information which would help to add more clarity to the Big Picture. Best wishes, Cheri
  3. Here are a few composite pictures of the Lampl/Bell/Unknown family of wings. As I said, there is pretty good evidence that Lample and Bell had some sort of relationship in that you can find both sets of wings with the upside down G "sterling" mark (on all three size wings), and rarely with either the Bell or Lampl hallmark on the 1 inch sweetheart wings. Lampl is known to have closed his shop in the NJ/NY area at the start of the war. I have found some Lampl stuff marked "Made in Mexico" (but not wings). This is a link to an article on Walter Lamp. http://www.milkywayjewels.com/lampl_article.html Which was further discussed in this thread: At some point I ended up talking with Ms Hoover via email. She confirmed that one of Walter Lampl's sons is still alive and that they had indeed moved the company from New York to Mexico during the war to get around material and manpower shortages. According to her, the Lampl Company didn't sell retail, but rather sold wholesale to a number of companies and firms around the US, and especially in the South West, likely explaining why these wings were associated with the Juarez area. In fact, one of the flight school yearbooks from one of the Schools in Arizona or Texas has a very obvious Juarez wing design on its cover.
  4. Actually, Chris, there are a number of other Bell wings that aren't covered on this thread. Bell wings were used for some of the WASP class wings, and then a few one off variations periodically show up. I know of one Bell observer wing with the US in the center (similar to the much earlier pilot/observer wing from the 20's). I also seem to recall some flight school related wings as well. There have been a number of Walter Lampl/Bell wing threads in the past. It is pretty clear that the Lampl company and Bell company had some sort of relationship during WWII, as there are many similarities between these two unique patterns (and a third pattern that was probably also made by Bell). This includes similar hinge, pin and catch assembly, the use of a "STERLING" hallmark with an upside down "G", and very similar finish on the planchetts. In this particular thread, I was able to find both Bell and Lampl marked sweetheart wings. Although I know that a specific unmentionable individual says he has proof that Lampl made their wings in New Jersey, the evidence that I have seen suggests that Lampl contracted out to manufacturers in Mexico and the nearby SW USA during the war (thus the name "Juarez" wings). It has always been my suspicion (and this is well explored in the below link) that Bell and Lampl may have been using the same manufacturing "jobber", or one company had subcontracted out with the other (probably Lampl from Bell) to produce their products. This is why these three patterns of full size wings, the 2 inch shirt wings and the smaller sweetheart wings all are so similar in so many ways. Some of these threads used to be pinned, but over the years, have been removed. But a search of Lampl and/or Bell will bring up a lot of good information.
  5. Here is a small smattering of wings that I have picked up over the years. Novelty items and/or modifications. The Juarez wing is touching as it is a women's size bracelet with a gold star. probably someone's son or husband was killed during the war. The pink booty wing was given to my dad during Vietnam. He was a non-flying officer in a squadron. LOL. The USN aviator wing has the ruptured duck added to it. The chairborne wings seem to be the most common of the novelty wings. There are many different variations.
  6. it is a FOX-made pilot wing. Not very rare, and probably only worth in the 25-50$ range. The small brass P-47 cutout was probably made in a workshop by a bored crew member who had access to some saws/files and a soldering iron. Or maybe it was by a pilot who just learned he would be trained to fly P-47s. I've seen various additions to wings over the years--its not common, but it wasn't unheard of either. Like B17John said, it is more than likely a novelty item--although it is easy to see an ebay auction with "Rare P-47 Ace wing--awarded for outstanding combat flying in the ETO! Many members of the Tuskeegee airmen wore these. Its the REAL DEAL. Manufactured by POWs from Stalug 3!" But I am a cynic. Still, it is a very neat wing, and one I wouldn't sneer at if the price were correct. I have a couple of bracelets that were made using old copper/brass wire and a wing. Clearly made in the workshop.
  7. I recently picked up an interesting grouping of an ID bracelet and WWI style wing. The bracelet/wing belonged to an A B Babbitt (it is beautifully engraved). The bracelet has his name and the Aereco Flying Service of Fort Wayne Indiana on it. This company was founded in Fort Wayne in the 1920's by a WWI pilot named "Clarence "Cap" Cornish. Cap was an Indiana pilot whose life spanned all but five years of the Century of Flight. Born in Canada in 1898, Cornish grew up in Fort Wayne, and began flying at the age of nineteen, piloting a "Jenny" aircraft during World War I, and continued to fly for the next seventy-eight years. In 1995, at the age of ninety-seven, he was recognized by Guinness World Records as the world's oldest actively flying pilot. In 1926, the Fort Wane Auto Electric and Radio company decided to start an Aviation Division and Cornish was hired to serve as the manager and chief pilot of the new Aereco Flying Service (the 29th in the US and the first in Indiana). By the early 1930's Aereco was one of only 20 schools nationwide who were approved to train commercial pilots. During the 1930's Cap Cornish was a leader in civilian and commercial aviation (locally in Indiana, as well as nationally). In 1938 or so, Aereco was closed. But for almost a decade Aereco Flying Services contributed a great deal to US civil aviation -- and likely many of their instructors and trainees had significant military careers when WWII started. This small grouping includes a beautifully engraved bracelet with one side having a nice pair of pilot wings and the name A B Babbitt and the other side saying "Aereco Flying Service Fort Wayne Indiana"). A quick search for "A B Babbitt" brings up a Amby Babbitt who is specifically mentioned in a book written by the daughter of Cap Cornish. Amby Babbitt was a student/flyer at Aereco and an avid golfer. Apparently, he won the Indiana City "Championship" when he tossed a golf ball onto the course from his airplane and then played the hole after landing. There was also an Albert Bradford Babbitt who lived a few miles away in the Chicago area. According to Ancestry, Albert Bradford Babbitt worked for an automotive company and my have been involved in the supply/maintenance of electrical equipment... which could link him to the Fort Wayne Auto Electric and Radio company. Albert Bradford Babbitt was a WWI veteran, but wasn't in aviation at that time. However, I think that Amby Babbitt and Albert Bradford Babbitt is the same person. I suspect that Amby/Albert was involved with Aereco as a private civilian pilot. Albert died in 1952. The other part of the grouping is a gold colored wing (about 2 7/8th inches) WWI style wing. I recall seeing this pattern wing being offered for sale in a number of vintage catalogs from the 20's and 30's. I suspect that this is one of those wings, made available to anyone who wanted a "pilot wing". I sometimes see this wing dismissed as a fake. My sense is that it isn't a fake, it was just one of the items that you could get from various mail order catalogs (like Sears, Blackinton, AECo) during that time. I recall seeing a vintage Sears or similar catalog showing a variety of aviation related jewelry, but cannot find that specific image. I have always been interested in this "Golden age" of American aviation. It was a mixture of old WWI pilots future WWII aces and astronauts, barnstorming dare devils, fearless wing walkers, explorers, racers and other future aviation pioneers.
  8. I would tread carefully with these. 1) If you look at the shield part of the wing, you will see what looks like a casting rather than a die struck piece. This is rather obvious because the horizontal lines are not neat, clean or straight across the shield. 2) The J R Gaunt hallmark is hard to see, and the quality wasn't that great in the originals, but this one looks like it is worse than normal. I guess that is because the base wing is also a casting. 3) It is very rare to find STERLING JR Gaunt wings, but if they are sterling, they should have the proper British assay marks. NOTE just "STERLING". Frankly, I believe that this is one of the "museum quality reproductions" made by He Who Shall Not Be Named, using a cast JR Gaunt base wing and a cast "G" shield mated together on a bogus/non-WWII vintage "STERLING" hallmarked wing.
  9. Costa... you know by now that you gotta give us more than just a picture of the front for an opinion. Even then, chances are that you won't get a consensus. You are as much an expert as anyone else on this forum! What do you think? How much are you willing to spend on that feeling? Can you return it if you buy it for your collection but don't like it in hand? What is your budget for these wings. Not being difficult (well, I am but not being mean about this), but honestly, you have been on this forum enough to know how it works. LOL.
  10. I believe the official term for that type of back is "cliche".
  11. pfrost

    CNAC wing

    Uploading pictures for posterity. I would argue this particular 2 inch version of the CNAC wings are the most common (as if anything CNAC related is "common". There is a larger 3 inch version which is much rarer. There are also vary rare 2 and 3 inch flight engineer wing that have a slightly different set of 2 Chinese characters on the shield. All four of these variations are made using the same style base Chinese-made wing (or they could be Indian made as well). The CNAC was flying during WWII up to the 50's. There were Chinese, British, Indian and American pilots (and perhaps other countries were also involved). In the 50's CNAC leadership went over to the communists rather than continue with the Nationalists Chinese. Because of the length of time CNAC was flying and the size of China, it wasn't a small organization. People sometimes equate CNAC with the AVG. Two different organizations that served different purposes. As the Chinese National Airlines, I believe they were involved in both civilian and military operations during the 40's and 50's. Photos from the time show a range of wing variations, but this particular pattern seemed to have been the most common. There is a lot of information on the net. A good place to start is CNAC.org.
  12. And this is the point where I start sniffing and tasting the badge.... LOL. There is something that I call collector bias. There is a tendency to be more accepting of what we "expect", and that isn't always what is true. I liken that to the classic dealer conversation: 1) I know its good because I have one in my collection! Or its counterpart 2) Well, I've never seen one like this, so it must be bad. Then there is the RB caveat...In which Ron Burkey has one for sale for $1000 for, so it must be legit (not to pick on Ron, who is a great guy!) but I have heard that many times. Over time, we tend to pick and select for what we are comfortable with, and sometimes those one-offs, variations, etc get left behind. My thinking with bullion is only buy what you like. The major factor for me is if the workmanship is well done and the artistry is pleasing. Collect what you like and you should always be happy. That doesnt mean the rest of us wont roll our eyes at you... Just kidding.
  13. Good addition to the thread. Here are some pictures I grabbed off the internet for "fair use". These show some of the likely ways bullion wings could have been made. The first photo shows some women working on bullion items (I suspect from the 1930's for King George's corronation). The next photo shows some local French seamstresses working on something (I'm going to say bullion wings...) whilst a number of doughboys watch. Finally, a WWII vintage photograph of a workshop making uniforms. Once can easily imagine a "bullion badge" table where some workers added various embellishments to the uniforms (or made badges/rank insignia, etc). These photos kind of give you an idea of what it was likely like when bullion wings were being made. For many WWI US officers, they probably went to a tailor or uniform shop to purchase their kit. Here a number of adverts for British RAF tailor shops from the period. As you can see, a pilot could have gotten all of his uniforms, rank and badges supplied at one place. I suspect there were an equal number of venues for French, Italian and American pilots. A fair number of American airmen were actually trained by the French once they arrived in country. I do not believe that all pilots were first trained in the US. But that is a thread for another day.
  14. There are other European wings made in France and the UK (including Canada, British Isles, Australia, New Zealand, etc), and Germany (post war especially) that can be studied. This is a recent (NON US) wing that I believe comes from the 30's (or maybe 20's). It clearly is of UK manufacture (probably represents the RNAF fleet arm pilot badge), but it shows how a British made bullion wing can look like. Note that the color of the yarn that makes the jewels in the crown is slightly bleached out compared to the color of the yarn on the backside of the wing. This type of "brighter on the back than the front" is always a good sign.
  15. As Chris noted, there are a relatively large number of fakes of WWI vintage bullion wings. The techniques are easy to duplicate by modern day reproduction artists. For example, sometimes old bullion thread is repurposed from relatively cheap bullion badges (say USN hat badges) and then used to make fake WWI bullion badges. Sometimes the bullion and cloth is artificially aged using various chemicals. What is frustrating, especially for novice collectors is that real WWI bullion wings are relatively scarce and hard to find. Clearly the more examples you handle and study, the more knowledge you will have to help you identify the bad wings. One way around this paradox is to really study those bullion wings that are so common and cheap that their is little profit or utility in faking them. The same basic techniques and material were used up to modern days... and the perfect candidates would be USN aviator wings. They are common, relatively cheap, and (for the most part) easy to find as original vintage items. I always like to study USN bullion wings because they also give you a really good idea of what a vintage wing looks like. It is a simple place to start studying bullion backsides.
  16. Finally, sometimes I will sniff and "taste" bullion wings. Old fabric and insignia can have a warm and dusty smell (in some cases you can even small tobacco smoke residues). Artificially aged fabric can often have a "bleachy" or chemical smell. Also (if you are brave and don't have any pride), you can put you tongue on the bullion. Chemically aged bullion will often have a bitter taste. You don't have to give them a big suck or drool on them, but you can often tell using your sense of taste or smell if chemicals were involved. He who shall not be named once sent me an email saying that my advice was stupid and that people who licked their wings could get sick as the chemicals used to age bullion can be toxic. So, be careful!
  17. Of course there are always the "Pakistan-made" fakes. The patch guys could probably go on for weeks about this, but usually the Paki-made items have a black or gray tissue paper glued to the back.
  18. Another sign of reproductions (and this seems to be especially true of airship and balloon pilot wings) is the use of old wool blanket material. This example also illustrate the way that bleaching chemicals will result in unnatural aging of the material. The front and back of this example show the same color because the material was soaked in a bath (probably of diluted bleach) that resulted in both sides of the insignia getting treated. WWI vintage wool blanket material could be dyed a variety of colors (white, green, light blue, etc) but the fabric was typically thicker and has a rougher nap/weave than melton material. If you have WWI bullion wings (or RAF/RCAF/RCAF etc) in your collection look at the edge. Usually, a qood quality melton will be relatively thin (about the width of a penny). Wool blankets will be much thicker. If you have a known reproduction and a good wing, check this out. Once you have handled a few good wings, the thin and tight weave of melton will stand out compared to the thick and rougher weave of the fake items. The last picture is of a (probably) 30's wing. It shows the relative thickness of the melton fabric. I will try to take some edge on photos later.
  19. 1) it is hard to reproduce the "aging" of fabric naturally. Many of the melton fabrics were colored using a combination of aniline (a common extract of coal tar) and other compounds which created the first mass produced chemical dye. These dyes are light sensitive and when exposed to (say sunlight) will break down from black or blue colors to purples and brownish colors. This can be (apparently) by exposing these fabrics to strong light but since more common dyes are now used in modern fabrics, it is hard to recreate. This is a bullion wing in which the original black/blue color of the melton has become bleached to a mauve or purple/grey color. 2) The part of the wing that is exposed to light will bleach out, but not the part of the wing that isn't exposed (like the back). People who try to "bleach" or age a wing using artificial compounds (like bleach or tea) usually bleach or stain the back of a wing. This is usually a dead give away of faking. The first photo shows a wing that is sewn to a uniform. The annaline dyes have faded to a purplish color. While it is hard to see in this photo, the front of this wing is slightly more faded than the back of the wing.
  20. Finally, this observer wing makes the point of using what was on hand. This wing has a red fabric that I suspect was remnants from a British uniform fabric. There may have been a covering layer that has been lost over the years, because I can see traces of glue on the wing.
  21. Burlap or other types of fabric were sometimes used as backing for the threads. Here is a good mixture of wings with burlap-style backings.
  22. Linen cloth was also sometimes used without the tissue paper backing. In general, I tend to see these type of wings being made in France.
  23. You also frequently find wings that have a paper backing glued over the back of the wing. You can see the burlap type stiffening under the tissue paper.
  24. To start, here are some "traditional" bullion wings showing the stiff black (sometimes it is white) mesh backing. I suspect that this is a broad weave fabric that was treated with dope or glue to make it stiff. I suspect that these are all American made wings, but again... for every rule there is an exception. Many American-made WWII US aviator wings have this type of backing.
  25. I wanted to focus on the back of bullion wings (primarily WWI, but the technology is pretty much the same for all time periods). The use of tinsel or metallic thread as a decorative art has been around for a very long time (perhaps going back as far as the 13-14th century). It is used to embellish royal, military, fraternal/masonic, and ecclesiastical garments, and typically uses metallic threads (gold, silver, and copper) alone or in combination with wool or silk threads to form complex and attractive lace like patterns. Because of the cost and skill required, it was usually used to denote status or rank. Found as embellishments of uniforms (the more metallic lace used, typically the higher the rank), badges, rank insignia, branch of service, etc, were common within the military of most countries (especially in Europe and the Americas). Here are a couple examples of Revolutionary and Civil war bullion. During the industrial revolution of Europe and the Americas in the 1800, textile manufacturing rapidly advanced and became more and more automated. By the start of WWI, various techniques, like manufacturing large amounts of uniforms and fabrics had formed a significant part of the economies of France, the UK, and the USA. Bullion work played an important (if relatively minor) role during this time. Typically produced by small companies and/or household tailors, bullion insignia were usually made by hand by women and seamstresses (although there may have been some larger scale industrial manufacturing as well). I suspect that in many cases, these items were made by request. A previous member of this forum once told me that he had visited a tailor shop in England and talked to the current owner. This gentleman still recalled watching his grandmother hand making making bullion wings in their shop for various American pilots during WWI. Most bullion insignia made during WWI and WWII share many similarities, although a bewildering array of variations also exist. For WWI bullion wings (including French, British, Italian and America made insignia) the initial process started out by using a dark black or blue melton wool fabric. Melton cloth is traditionally made of wool and is woven in a twill form. IIt is a very solid cloth in which the twill weave pattern is completely concealed due to the finishing processes. At first glance Melton wool looks a lot like felt which is made in a different manner and is less robust. While I don't want to say that felt was never used (there are always exceptions), sometimes you do see other types of fabric, like velvet, being used. Glued or sewn to the melton base fabric is usually a stiffening layer (it can be a glued mesh, burlap or other support material). Then the bullion threads are sewn to the front of the insignia, through the melton and the backing material. From behind, a bullion wing will almost always have these three layers (base fabric, stiffening backing, and thread work). In many (but not all) a fourth layer would have been glued to cover the back of the insignia. Sometimes it was a light tissue like paper, another layer of burlap or even linen cloth. In some cases, the bullion threads were "padded" with the use of lumps of material (wool, horse hair, cotton) to give the bullion a 3D look. The wing would then be trimmed to give the insignia a final shape. Rarely, the wings would be mounted on a backing plate of one sort or another so that they could be removed from the uniform. Because of the wide variations in manufacturing, location, seamstresses/tailors, etc, there aren't many "rules" that can be used when studying WWI/WWII bullion wings. More than likely, they simply used what they had on hand when making these items.
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