Jump to content

cwnorma

Members
  • Content Count

    2,411
  • Joined

  • Last visited

Contact Methods

  • Website URL
    http://

Profile Information

  • Interests
    WW1 Aviation

Recent Profile Visitors

2,182 profile views
  1. World War One Weekly Wing #29 American Made WW1 Wing With Pinback Background The “cwnorma has no time for wings” month continues! So this post is a bit lighter than usual. Apologies for that. I promise a return to form when my load lightens. Mea culpa out of the way, here is WWOWW #29: Description Reserve Military Aviator Manufacture. Possibly the quintessential American-made World War One design, this wing stands out both literally and figuratively. Distinctive and generally similar to other American-made two tier shoulder wings, the badge is significantly oversized. Each wing is characterized by a first row of feathers picked out individually in silver bullion, surmounted by a two-tier shoulder of individual feathers constructed with rachis of faceted bullion and vane contrasting smooth bullion. Each first row feather is separated by a line of fine black thread. The shield is moderately flared. The chief contains 13 small "stars" executed with faceted bullion in an x-configuration affixed atop a field of horizontal rows of smooth silver bullion. The field portion consists of vertical columns of smooth silver bullion. The chief and field portion are separated by bullion wire coil and black thread. The top half of each wing and shield perimeter are bordered by coiled bullion wire. Both wings and especially the shield are extremely highly padded towering nearly 1/2 inch above the background material. The US is gold bullion coils configured in a two-strand twisted helix with no apparent serifs or periods. Mountings. The RMA badge is mounted on a “bat-wing” shaped thin brass plate with large, drop-in safety clasp and bronze pin. The reverse is 3/4 lapped by backing cloth and hand stitched.
  2. Cliff, Really tremendous and illuminating post! Thank you very much. Chris
  3. World War One Weekly Wing #28 American Made WW1 Wing With Unusual Mounting Background Apologies in advance to all my fellow wing-nuts! This week and the next three are going to be exceedingly busy for me. Consequently, the WWOWW posts may be a bit lighter than usual. I promise a return to form when the load lightens up a bit. This week's badges came to me by way of the Goodwill auction. The badge is surprisingly bright and free of tarnish and so must have been cherished and well cared for. Alas the folks at Goodwill did not record any information on the original pilot and so that information is unfortunately lost to time. The two badges came together; Reserve Military Aviator and Flight Instructor. I can only assume they have always been together and I will endeavor to keep them so. Description Reserve Military Aviator Manufacture. Classic American-made wings. Distinctive and generally similar to other American-made two tier shoulder wings. Each wing is characterized by a first row of feathers picked out individually in silver bullion, surmounted by a two-tier shoulder of individual feathers constructed with rachis of faceted bullion and vane contrasting smooth bullion. Each first row feather is separated by a double line of fine black thread. The shield is slightly bag-shaped. The chief contains 13 small neatly spaced "stars" executed with faceted bullion in an x-configuration affixed atop a field of horizontal rows of smooth silver bullion. The field portion consists of vertical columns of smooth silver bullion. The chief and field portion are separated by bullion wire coil. The top half of each wing and shield perimeter are bordered by coiled bullion wire. Both wings and shield are very highly padded. The US is gold bullion coils configured in a two-strand twisted helix with no apparent serifs or periods. Mountings. The RMA badge’s reverse is covered by melton wool cloth machine sewn around the perimeter. Finally, remains of threads at the wing tips indicate some sort of snap or hook setup was once stitched to the badge to affix the wing to the uniform. Flight Instructor Manufacture. Well crafted American-made wings. Each wing is characterized by a first row of horizontal feathers constructed with rachis of faceted gold bullion and vanes contrasting smooth silver bullion. Surmounting each wing is a shallow L-shaped shoulder of smooth bullion. The two wings meet at a round “hub” also executed in smooth silver bullion. The wings are moderately padded. Mountings. Typical of most WW1 era Flight Instructor badges, the wing is of the sew on type. Remains of threads at the perimeter indicate the badge was once stitched to a uniform.
  4. Fellow wing nuts, Have a happy Independence Day! Chris
  5. rooster77, That is a very handsome wing! The lady who made them was no doubt rightly proud of her art! Here are a few more images of backs of wings. This time, some European made variations. Three of the four photos came from the internet so fair use for educational purposes is claimed for those. All of the below are original WW1 era wings: There are differences between European and American construction techniques and it can be hard to "get it all down." The best thing to do is study as many good photos, and handle as many good wings as you can to get a feel for judging the good from the bad and the downright ugly. Chris
  6. This is such an illuminating thread, I thought I would add a few more examples for study: All of the above original wings are what would commonly be considered "American" made type Reserve Military Aviator badges. The ratios presented, while certainly not statistically significant, tend to illustrate the general commonality of the various backing stiffeners. Note that three have white, coarsely "waffle" woven stiffeners. One has a black coarsely "waffle" woven stiffener and one appears to have a coarse canvas type stiffener. When handling WW1 era badges, collectors will generally find that most encountered have the white stiffener. Slightly less common is the black stiffener. The third, and least common stiffeners used during this period, specifically with respect to American made wings, are every other type of stiffener. Thus when examining an American made, sew on type embroidered badge, one of the first areas I look to is the stiffener. If it has something besides the coarse "waffle" woven stiffener, my wing-collector Spidey-sense goes off and I start looking even harder at the badge. A non waffle woven stiffener is not in and of itself a negative for the badge, as the original badge above amply illustrates, but because this feature makes the badge's construction slightly unusual, should be a springboard for an even closer examination of the badge. Chris
  7. Patrick, A really excellent post and it should be mandatory review by any wing collector. The pursuit of bullion wings is fraught with reproductions--ranging from silly fantasies to outright frightening forgeries. Posts like this one go a long way toward helping others understand; "what to look for" when assessing a 100 or 75 year old wing. Amazing work! Chris
  8. Gentlemen, Thank you both sincerely for your heartfelt kindness! We're over half-way there. I have about 20 more planned out and the rest I'll figure out as I get to them. My hope is that other collectors, after reading the WWOWW series; 1) find WW1 wings more "accessible" and 2) come away with having learned about this fascinating period of Aviation history. Cheers! Chris
  9. World War One Weekly Wing #27 Uncut French Made Wing Background We’ve noted since WWOWW 18, that the original badge for Junior and Reserve Military Aviator or Observer, was not officially authorized very long. Only 76 days elapsed between 15 August 1917 when the Army first officially authorized wing badges, and 27 October 1917 when the first major changes were published. After Colonel Bolling made his report to the War Department noting European practice of using half-wings exclusively for Observers the Army re-designated the existing half-wing with shield for its own Observer Airmen. This change too was short-lived as on 29 December 1917, just over two months later, the Army replaced the shield on Observer half-wing badges with the gothic “O” likely inspired by the Royal Flying Corps. Despite the rapid changes in regulations, there is ample photographic evidence that many Observers simply chose to wear the half wing with shield—apparently individually preferring it to the second type, Gothic “O” badge. Associated Airfields: Aerodromes in France Description Manufacture. French made. Stereotypical to type. The single wing is characterized by three rows of roughly horizontal feathers, each picked out in two types of silver bullion. Individual feathers are constructed with a rachis of one type of silver bullion (faceted) and vane a second (smooth) type to provide sparkle and contrast. A fine silver bullion coil outlines the entire top and left edges, extending slightly beyond. The shield chief on contains 10 small "stars," executed in an x-configuration, affixed atop a field of horizontal rows of fine, smooth bullion. The lower field consists of vertical stripes also made from the same type of bullion. The chief and the lower field are separated by a bullion wire coil and the perimeter of the shield is bordered by coiled bullion wire. Overall the badge is well padded. Finally, the US of this badge consists of fine gold bullion coils configured in a two-strand twisted helix with serifs. Mountings. This sew on badge has never been cut for wear. There is a fine, tissue paper backing glued to the rear of the badge. The tissue paper is coming loose and remains only lightly affixed. Notes: The badge came from a Paris tailor shop that went out of business in the last 10 years. The shop’s owners had saved the badge, along with some miscellaneous insignia, since the First World War. It is uncommon to find WW1 era bullion wing badges in such pristine condition; even uncut ones. This badge, with almost no darkening and nearly all its original sparkle, gives modern collectors a rare glimpse of how handsome these badges looked during the period of their original wear. Chris
  10. Top shelf! This is the sort of thing that really makes this hobby worthwhile!
  11. blind pew, On the badge at the top, the star is silver soldered to the top of the shield. Careful inspection with a 5x loupe also shows that the star was originally about a millimeter to the left of its current position. I think the star was originally a pre-WW2 era General Officer collar or overseas cap size star. It is just under 1/2 inch tip to tip. In his formal portraits, Brigadier General William L. "Billy" Mitchell can be seen wearing a similar 1/2 inch star pinned to his uniform just above his BB&B Dallas wings (compare in size with the full-size star on his shoulder):
  12. Cliff, As always, thank you for the kind words. I think the hardest part for me was being thrust into the role of the third party breaking the bad news. Perhaps because I am a "fellow collector" and not a "dealer" so I am not confronted with this particular experience very often and thus may have more empathy for collectors... Not one of the gentlemen particularly wanted to sell their wing badges, but all of them needed to raise funds. Seeing that it was an emotional experience for them, also took a toll on me. The only positive is that the two dealers who are still alive will be hearing from these gentlemen. These are hard times for some right now and reports indicate suicide rates are climbing. Economic hardship takes a heavy toll on people's psyche. The swindlers who sold those badges may have rationalized that they weren't doing any real harm. Perhaps in normal times it wouldn't have mattered. But today, months into the pandemic, the price of a WW1 wing badge could easily mean a not-missed mortgage payment or food on the table. Again, thanks Cliff and the rest of you wing-nuts for allowing me this catharsis. Best wishes! Chris
  13. World War One Weekly Wing #26 G. W. Haltom “Military Aviator” Wing Background Half way through the year-long effort to post a World War One wing every week! To commemorate the mid-point of this journey, I thought we could share a somewhat special wing and perhaps in so doing generate some discussion. WWOWW #18 noted that the Army designated the wing with star for Military Aviator 27 October 1917. However the same changes stipulated that to qualify as a Military Aviator, a pilot had to fly for at least three years—meaning the overwhelming majority of WW1 era pilots would have never qualified for the star before the war ended. Furthermore, the Army ceased presenting ratings as Military Aviator 25 January 1919. The star was not resumed as Campbell (1991) noted, until 1937 when the Army created the rating of Military Airplane Pilot: Even this designation was short lived as War Department Circular 21, 20 February 1940, changed the wing with star badge designation to Senior Pilot. WWOWW #26 with WWOWW #17 immediately below for comparison Description As we discussed in WWOWW 17, G. W. Haltom produced a series of very handsome badges with exaggerated Art Nouveau curves and a shield bearing well executed forced perspective of stripes to escutcheon with 13 five-pointed stars on background of fine horizontal lines in chief. The wings are near mirror image, exhibiting very fine feathering with a Neo-classical representational motif. 14K gold, separately applied, thin, gothic U and S. The affixed star is executed in the “Etruscan” or “false embroidery” style. Manufacture. Die struck in three main sterling silver pieces (wings, shield, and star) with separately applied die struck gold U and S. The single piece wings share a bar of silver upon which is separately mounted the shield. The star is separately silver soldered to the top of the shield with evidence of a somewhat crude repair/reinforcement to the star. Mountings. As other G. W. Haltom badges, this badge appears to show evidence that it was originally screw-post mounted but has been converted to pin back. The cammed pin opens 80 degrees and The catch is of type not seen until the very end of WW1. Markings. The badge bears no markings. Notes. Considering the vanishingly small numbers of Military Aviators and Military Airplane Pilots, collectors should automatically view any WW1 era badge with star with a healthy dose of skepticism. So what then should we consider this badge to be? The badge was purchased years ago by a non-wing collector in a pawn shop near Somerset, KY for a tiny fraction of what a WW1 pilot badge would normally command, so it has never been presented to the collector community as an “exotic rarity.” Unfortunately, no information was available from the pawn broker as to its original owner. Having carefully examined this badge for all the years I have owned it, my best guess is that it represents a long serving aviator who earned his wings during the WW1 era and eventually had the star added at the appropriate time by a jeweler. Perhaps this badge belonged to, and was modified by, one of the 1937 Military Airplane Pilots, but a more likely scenario would be that the badge was worn during the post 1940 era by a WW1 era aviator who achieved the Senior Pilot rating. Indeed the badge itself shows evidence of multiple repairs, some a little crude—a strong indication of a long, proud, and cherished service life. Regardless of its history, its a unique and handsome WW1 era badge! WWOWW #17
  14. "Box of tears." "Box of Ramen Noodles." I call mine the "Hall of Shame" Not all of the above were "mistakes" in the strictest sense of the word, some were bought by others and gifted to me for study--but all have found their way into the Hall of Shame. Every one of the above badges though was marketed by a dealer as an original. Several of them are die struck. Several have a separately applied US--two of them actual gold. All of them are fake. Of all, the one that stings the worst is that half wing. Years ago, in my own heady days of; ignorance, beer, pretty girls, and wings, I endorsed that badge for a friend. Years later while thinning out his collection he found it and asked me if I wanted it. The whole incident came rushing back! I ended up paying him his full buying price [He said; "Don't worry about it," I insisted--it was my fault he bought it] and into the Hall of Shame it went.
  15. Fellow Wing-nuts, I wanted to get something off my chest. This doesn't apply to most here, and I personally thank you for being the great, knowledgable, and honest people that you are--but perhaps those it does apply to will read this. As most of you know, I collect WW1 Air Service, and specialize in WW1 wing badges. Like many other scarce Militaria items, they can be expensive and valuable. Those who know me know I do everything I can, always free of charge, to help people make good buying decisions with respect to WW1 wings. Recently, the third time since this COVID-19 based economic downturn began, I was approached by a collector to; make an offer, help them price, or otherwise help them dispose of a WW1 wing badge. In each case, I had to be the bearer of bad news that the badge in question was a worthless reproduction. Similarly, in each case, the person was crestfallen. Suddenly confronted with their bad decision and realizing that the "trustworthy" person they had bought the wings from was a merely a fraudulent grifter; bills were looming and they were counting on getting that money back to make ends meet... So this note is to the fakers and dishonest sellers. The willful and knowing passers of worthless gimcracks and gewgaws who prey on ignorance for their ill-gotten gains. Those who use "caveat emptor" as their personal dishonesty shield rationalizing sales of fakes because; "those rubes should do their homework" or "a fool and his money..." Somewhere, there is someone in a difficult position--all so you could make a fast buck. Chris
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.