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"Hap" Arnold wore wings made by Johnson Mfg. Company

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"Hap" Arnold wearing wings made by Johnson Mfg. Company:

 

One of several different sets of World War 1 wings owned by Col. Henry H. "Hap" Arnold were made by Johnson Mfg. Company of New York.

 

The company also made the same style wings for Tiffany & Company.

 

(1) Picture of wings in the top photo by "Tiffany" courtesy of Bob Schwartz - http://www.ww2wings.com/main.shtml

(2) Picture of wings in the bottom photo by Johnson Mfg. Co. are not the same ones in the picture of Henry H. Arnold.

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Hello Cliff,

 

Thank you for taking the time to post the "Hap" photo and wing study. This is an image I've not seen before. Your Johnson/Tiffany pilot wing comparison brings up the question, are they the identical wing with different hallmarks?

 

It's my opinion the Johnson Mfg Company had two dies with very subtle differences. One die was used for their signature "Johnson" hallmarked Pilot wings...and a second die, with fraternal similarities, used expressly for "Tiffany" contract wings. I see a number of variances in the feathering when compared side-by-side. (The Tiffany is on top and Johnson example below). Any thoughts?

 

Russ

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Hello Cliff,

 

Thank you for taking the time to post the "Hap" photo and wing study. This is an image I've not seen before. Your Johnson/Tiffany pilot wing comparison brings up the question, are they the identical wing with different hallmarks?

 

It's my opinion the Johnson Mfg Company had two dies with very subtle differences. One die was used for their signature "Johnson" hallmarked Pilot wings...and a second die, with fraternal similarities, used expressly for "Tiffany" contract wings. I see a number of variances in the feathering when compared side-by-side. (The Tiffany is on top and Johnson example below). Any thoughts?

 

Russ

Hi Russ,

 

I think your photos are proof that Johnson Mfg. Company may have had two dies but :unsure: the photos also "suggest" to me that Tiffany may have copied the Johnson die or vice-versa? :dunno: It's only a question for us to ponder :think: and not meant to be accepted by anyone as a statement based on fact; therefore, unless it can be proven otherwise, it's probably still safe to assume that Johnson Mfg. Co. made wings for "Tiffany" using a second die.

 

By the way, I don't have any "Tiffany" marked wings to compare with the one I have made by Johnson Mfg. I sure wish that I did because it's also interesting how your "Tiffany" wings appear to be shorter than the one on the bottom. Would you mind adding a photo to show us the backs of both?

 

All the best,

 

Cliff :-)

 

 

 

 

.


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Hey Cliff,

 

I appreciate your ideas and input. Regarding the size of the wings, the Tiffany & Co marked badge is actually a little wider than the Johnson Mfg Co badge. My poor camera angles on the images above give the opposite illusion. I'll try and get a few close-up images for you tomorrow in natural light. In the mean time, I do have this rough image comparing the backs.

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Weight and thickness are pretty close. (Note the lever is missing on the Tiffany catch.)

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Gentlemen, have the two of you decided that the width of the wings, and the size of the US are the only differences between the wings ?

Hi Robin,

 

A few of us have socks older than most of todays collectors yet up until yesterday I had always thought that Johnson Mfg. Co. in New York made the same pattern wings for Tiffany, also located in New York. Well, the pictures Russ has posted do prove there are several differences between the two badges in question other than just the width and letters US. In other words, at first glance the two badges may look identical to each other but they were actually made from two different dies, and that raises the question did Johnson Mfg. Co. own both dies or did Tiffany make their own wings in-house? :think:

 

When you consider that both Bailey, Bank & Biddle and Eisenstadt also made similar looking "Dallas" style wings. . . it's an interesting question that is wide open for discussion.

 

Cliff


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Russ,

 

Simply lovely wings! Your collection must be truly amazing.

 

It looks more than just the feathering is similar but different, the shields are also different in detail - the way the vertical stripes terminate at the upper horizontal edge, the size of the stars (Johnson appears quite a bit larger), the pebbled (Tiffany) v non-pebbled (or sandpaper) background of the stars, etc.

 

Re the length of the wings, I would NOT make a comparison UNLESS you were doing something like using a piece of string to measure the obverse length from wingtip to wingtip (but that would not be too accurate anyway). Both wings are vaulted to different degrees. If both wings were the same length when flat (pre-vaulting) then different degrees of vaulting will make a calipered wingtip to wingtip measurement different.

 

Regards

Mike

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Russ,

 

Simply lovely wings! Your collection must be truly amazing.

 

It looks more than just the feathering is similar but different, the shields are also different in detail - the way the vertical stripes terminate at the upper horizontal edge, the size of the stars (Johnson appears quite a bit larger), the pebbled (Tiffany) v non-pebbled (or sandpaper) background of the stars, etc.

 

Re the length of the wings, I would NOT make a comparison UNLESS you were doing something like using a piece of string to measure the obverse length from wingtip to wingtip (but that would not be too accurate anyway). Both wings are vaulted to different degrees. If both wings were the same length when flat (pre-vaulting) then different degrees of vaulting will make a calipered wingtip to wingtip measurement different.

 

Regards

Mike

 

I have seen Russ' collection, it is amazing. :thumbsup:

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Just for fun, I compared my Tiffany RMA wing to the picture of the full wing supplied by Russ.

As one might guess, it matched up perfectly. I imagine we can assume that the RMA die was copied from the full wing die (Whoever made it). My Johnson wing is similar to the others, so no comparison needed.


**PLEASE NOTE: THIS COMMUNITY MEMBER HAS SADLY PASSED AWAY**

http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/301020-robin-ray/

 

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Thank you Mike. I appreciate your kind words and shared views. Your right about all of the small differences between the two wings.

 

While some of us, including myself, are just recently picking up on all of the differences between the Tiffany and Johnson patterns, I see Terry Morris identified and documented those differences back in 1995 within the pages of his book, "UNITED STATES ARMY AIR SERVICE WING BADGES, UNIFORMS AND INSIGNIA."

 

On page 28 of Major Morris' book are illustrations of both wings with his statement describing how the Johnson Co. wing "somewhat resembles the Tiffany wing, with the exception of the feathering in the wings." And I thought we had discovered something new in "wingology!"

 

Russ


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Thank you Mike. I appreciate your kind words and shared views. Your right about all of the small differences between the two wings.

 

While some of us, including myself, are just recently picking up on all of the differences between the Tiffany and Johnson patterns, I see Terry Morris identified and documented those differences back in 1995 within the pages of his book, "UNITED STATES ARMY AIR SERVICE WING BADGES, UNIFORMS AND INSIGNIA."

 

On page 28 of Major Morris' book are illustrations of both wings with his statement describing how the Johnson Co. wing "somewhat resembles the Tiffany wing, with the exception of the feathering in the wings." And I thought we had discovered something new in "wingology!"

 

Russ

 

 

Well, we discovered that Cliff has some really old socks! That is good to know. You notice he said that he didn't have any old socks that were older AND stinkier than many new collectors. :w00t:

 

The Tiffany & Co hallmark with the little script "m" was used from about 1907 until ~1947. (http://www.925-1000.com/Tiffany_Date_Code.html)

 

I believe that Tiffany may have used outside suppliers of some of its silverware and other products at different points, and perhaps you see some of that going on with Johnson MFG Co, where they were suppling both their own retailers and Tiffany & Co with wings and insignia. I wonder if Tiffany was actually retailing these things out, but instead given a specific contract to produce X number of badges for a class or school?

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Well, we discovered that Cliff has some really old socks! That is good to know.

You notice he said that he didn't have any old socks that were older

AND stinkier than many new collectors.

 

Patrick,

 

Yes, I too think that was funny, but to set the record straight, a few people really

do know that I could not live with myself if such a thought ever crossed through

my mind.

 

Cliff ;)


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Patrick, thank you for the additional information on the Tiffany hallmark. Could that little stylized "M" symbol at the bottom of the hallmark be the combined letters in the word T-I-F-F-A-N-Y?

 

I've not seen any Tiffany-made products, other than their wings, include the word "MAKERS" in the hallmark. I wonder if this is in reference to an outside contractual product made expressly for Tiffany?

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Here an image of Lieutenant General "Hap" Arnold taken in 1943. The image was copied from a period AAF class book. Is he wearing a Meyer's, AMICO, or BALFOUR made Command Pilot badge?

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Patrick, thank you for the additional information on the Tiffany hallmark. Could that little stylized "M" symbol at the bottom of the hallmark be the combined letters in the word T-I-F-F-A-N-Y?

 

I've not seen any Tiffany-made products, other than their wings, include the word "MAKERS" in the hallmark. I wonder if this is in reference to an outside contractual product made expressly for Tiffany?

 

 

From what I understand, the M is for the president of the company, John Moore II, who served from 1907 until around 1947. You can roughly date the hallmarks that way.

 

Prior to the 1900, Tiffany & Co used a number of fine silversmiths to produce their products (I think the article I linked to mentions a number of the companies). I believe they started out as a retail store of fine goods (including jewelry and silver) and contracted/imported much of their stock. Eventually, with the partnership of John Moore, Tiffany began to manufacture its own silver goods.

 

While it isn't clear to me if they then exclusively manufactured silver goods or continued to do a combination of manufacturing, contracting, and retail n the 1900's, I SUSPECT that they likely still had contracts with other silversmiths/jewelers in and around New York, during that time. Again, I suspect that Tiffany & Co had a contract with Johnson MFG Co to produce Tiffany & Co wings for them (similar to what Luxenberg did with Blackinton). I also suspect that Tiffany didn't just make wings and other military insignia "en masse" (ie where any schmuck could go into Tiffany's store and find the "Military Jewelry" aisle), but probably had a contract from someone to provide X number of wings. But that is all conjecture.

 

Patirck

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:think:

 

Well, did Tiffany really out-source the making of their WW1 wings to Johnson Manufacturing or did Tiffany make them in their own shop? Without access to their archives we won't be sure but Patrick has covered a good number of interesting view points to consider.

 

I've always thought that Johnson Mfg. made identical wings for Tiffany until Russ brought up the question in post #2 and showed us pictures of his Tiffany and Johnson Mfg. examples. At first the two may look identical but they are not exactly similar and thanks to Russ I still have a few questions to consider.

 

Yes, in the early 1900's Tiffany out-sourced the manufacturing of some products; however, their whole reputation was built on selling the finest jewelry available to some of the most prominent members of American society and the firm had even been appointed as Imperial Jeweler and Royal Jeweler to the crown heads of Europe and the Ottoman Emperor. Well, with a reputation like that why would such an (aloof) exclusive, independent firm like Tiffany elect to sell a (near) duplicate wing made by an outside vendor like Johnson Mfg. who sold a similar wing in their own store located just 6 blocks away, through their mail order business, and at various Military Base Exchange stores across the country?

 

Keep in mind that in 1918 American aviators were wearing wing badges that had been designed with the basic requirement that each be three inches wide and have a center shield with letters US on it. With few restrictions, that gave jewelry makers the freedom to create exquisite looking silver badges, some of which had individual elements for two silver wings and center shield with letters US in real gold. Again, we are referring to 1918 when there were few restrictions on how a badge could look, not 1919 when the War Department began enforcing drastic new revisions that limited the shape of wings, removed the letters US from the center shield and required one piece construction, etc.

 

My point? In 1918 the silver studio at Tiffany was known as the first American School of Design and Teacher of Art Progress. The company also had shops to make their own jewelry. Hence, why would Tiffany choose to sell a Johnson Mfg. wing rather than create and sell an exclusive wing of their own design? It would have been simple for them to do it.

 

There is one more question on the subject of exclusivity or lack of it. How many manufactures made "Dallas" style wings in 1918? There were at least three that did it which meant two of them pirated or copied the original design. In consideration of how "Dallas" style wings were copied by other firms, should we remain willing to assume that the same thing could not have happen with Tiffany wings? In other words, could it not be that Johnson Mfg. copied a Tiffany wing for their own gain rather than make one with a design all their own?

 

That last question may remain unanswered for awhile since a request for Tiffany to research their archives to settle the matter would require a fee of $1,000 and can take up to three months to get a respond.

 

Cliff

 

 

 

 

 

.


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