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Fake sterling Seal Trident


Tonomachi
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I meant to warn the membership yesterday when I found this listing (ebay # 140766447174) on ebay for a sterling Seal Team trident and silver enlisted UDT badge. I got busy yesterday and I wasn't able to get to it until today however I believe someone has already purchased this pair for $500.00. The sterling Seal Team trident is a cast copy but the UDT badge is original. I'm not sure that the seller was aware that this was a copy. I have one of these copies (see scans) in my collection which I purchased back in the 1980s from a known dealer of high end military insignia who was operating out of Oregon and Washington. This was a trusted dealer until he formed a partnership with another insignia dealer and his part time hobby turned into a full time business. He had a jeweler initally making repairs to original pieces that he sold and was honest enough to tell you that a particular piece was professionally repaired by his jewelry. Something happened and little by little this particular dealer began selling some very expensive fake stuff which people bought as they trusted him. Another thing that happened was the supposed loss of insignia through the mail or UPS. This not only happened to me but other collectors as we talk amongst one another and they had the same thing happen to them. Anyway I was told by this dealer that he had come across a jeweler in Washington State near a naval base who had a box full of sterling Seal Team tridents and was in the process of melting them down for the silver. The dealer told me that he stopped this from happening by buying the whole lot of maybe 10 sterling tridents from this jeweler. However I was told that the jeweler had already removed the three rear clutches from the back of every trident. I was told that the pins had to be replaced and were not original to the badge. They are not attached very well and will come off if too much pressure is applied from side to side. Since I had purchased other insignia from this dealer I trusted him and purchased one for I think it was 100 dollars. It wasn't until a couple of years later that I realized that this was a cast copy when other insignia collectors began to question the authenticy of some of the insignia they had purchased from him. If you measure the distance from wing tip to wing tip it is slightly smaller than an original due to shrinkage after casting. The finish is wrong as well as the pins that do not match original pieces.

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I know the guy who sold these and he is a pretty straight shooter. I also know of the SEAL he mentioned that they belonged to.

 

I looked thru my VN era enlisted Tridents and I have one of these in my collection. I think it came from the Clinton collection via Bob. I noticed the sterling is very sharp where Anataya is kinda soft looking. And the sterling is stamped in exactly the same spot from what I can tell from the photos. If the sterling is hand stamped I find it pretty amazing that it's stamped in the EXACT same spot.

 

I'm pretty sure I know who the dealer is you're talking about.

 

Are you 100% sure this is in fact fake?

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I'm pretty sure this is what happened. You can see the differences in the attached photos even though this is an Antaya "silver filled" Trident as I've yet to locate a "sterling" example for my collection. You can see the differences in the size of the cast piece which is slightly smaller due to shrinkage when it was cast from an original piece. The cast copy does not have sharp details on the back like the original. The finish on the cast piece is darker because it lacks any kind of factory finish which is exactly like the one that sold on ebay. The one on ebay (photos attached) has the same dark finish and two of the three clutch back pins are missing because I know how fragile they are which I experienced with my cast copy. I was pinning my cast copy in a display and one of the pins started to come off as the solder base started to fracture. Whomever soldered these replacement pins on did a poor job. I thought I still had the orignal sales catalog somewhere advertising the sale of these Trident but can't find it anywhere. I now remember where the dealer told me that he had supposedly found this hord of Tridents. He told me that it was in a jewelry shop in Bremerton, Washington, where a Naval Base was located nearby.

 

My guess is that the original owner of this Trident (Seal) was not aware that it was a cast copy. In addition the seller thought it was real as it came from a vet. However I believe it was one of many that was sold back in the 1980s by the same insignia dealer whom I'm guessing had a lot of contacts with former UDT and Seal Team members because he ended up with a lot of rare stuff for sale.

 

In addition I know what the finish on an original "sterling" Trident looks like as many years ago I saw one in a museum that no longer exists. It had the same finish as the Antaya "silver filled" Trident. Unfortunately I didn't take really good photos of the front and back of this "sterling" Trident because I was too busy taking photographs of a really rare OD Seal Team One jungle jacket with fantastic direct embroidery (Phoneix Program) and black beret that had been donated along with the Trident. This museum was in San Antonio, Texas, directly across the street from the Alamo. It was a pretty good museum but the curator whom I spoke with claimed to have been a Vietnam War era Seal. I didn't know at the time that he wasn't telling the truth and I actually donated something to his museum. He was later found out by other Seals and the museum closed. I can only assume that the Seals took back what they donated which was some really rare stuff.

 

Spike did you end up buying the pair on ebay?

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This is one of those areas where our collector knowledge and real world applications collide.

 

It may indeed be a cast copy, but if it was owned by someone who had earned the right to wear such a piece, then it's a "real" sterling Trident. What gives value here is the provenance of ownership, not the maker of the piece. For myself, I'd want something other than the seller's word as proof of provenance, but if the seller was someone I knew and trusted that might be good enough.

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This is one of those areas where our collector knowledge and real world applications collide.

 

It may indeed be a cast copy, but if it was owned by someone who had earned the right to wear such a piece, then it's a "real" sterling Trident. What gives value here is the provenance of ownership, not the maker of the piece. For myself, I'd want something other than the seller's word as proof of provenance, but if the seller was someone I knew and trusted that might be good enough.

 

It is my understanding that by the time (1980s) these sterling Tridents were offered for sale the UDT were done away with having changed designations to the new Seal Teams. The UDT and Seal insignia were supposedly authorized in 1962 but were not produced until around 1972. There were both gold (officer) and silver (enlisted) UDT pins and Tridents. However by the time these sterling Tridents were offered for sale (1980s) the Seal Teams were no longer wearing the silver Tridents as everyone was only wearing the gold Tridents. Their reasoning was that since everyone, both officer and enlisted, went through the same training they should wear the same insignia. So if this sterling Trident is "real" because it was worn by someone who earned it then the reunion insignia that you come across mixed in with WW2 period insignia in estate sales are "real" since they were worn on baseball caps or blazers by the veterans who earned them. My sterling Trident was not worn by a veteran who earned it so it is considered a fake as I feel it was manufactured to decieve yet if a different one from the same batch is worn by a veteran who earned it it is considered "real". This is what I don't understand.

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if a different one from the same batch is worn by a veteran who earned it it is considered "real". This is what I don't understand.

 

My belief is that in so much of militaria collecting, most of the value derives from the person who wore, owned or carried the item, not the item itself. Granted some items by themselves have a huge amount of value and even given the same ownership provenance, an item with a more desirable hallmark or history will be worth more. I recently saw a great collection of flight jackets that all came from the same Navy pilot, great patches on all of them. Half of them were private purchase, what we call replicas or reproductions, but the past owner gave them value far beyond what we'd normally pay for one.

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My belief is that in so much of militaria collecting, most of the value derives from the person who wore, owned or carried the item, not the item itself. Granted some items by themselves have a huge amount of value and even given the same ownership provenance, an item with a more desirable hallmark or history will be worth more. I recently saw a great collection of flight jackets that all came from the same Navy pilot, great patches on all of them. Half of them were private purchase, what we call replicas or reproductions, but the past owner gave them value far beyond what we'd normally pay for one.

 

 

So then if a Viet Nam vet tried to sell current reproduction patches as originals you would be good with calling them originals?

 

Because they were sold by a vet? That is how I understand what you are saying! Just trying to figure out the logic behind that?

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In 30 Years of collecting UDT/SEAL items, I have never seen a "STERLING' marked Silver SEAL badge. Not saying that they did not exsist, but never have seen one nor any UDT/SEAL member I have talked with. With that said, I am basing this on only East Coast teams. Just to reinforce what with Tonomachi said, The UDT/SEAL badges were not approved until 1972 and in late 1973 all UDTs and SEALs were wearing the gold Budweiser (SEAL badge). At that time there were only 2 teams (1&2) with approx. 100 enlisted Men in each team. That leaves 200 (at most) Guys wearing the Silver SEAL for about a Year. Add to that the Tradition of Teamates placing the badges on a Team Members Coffin, there is NOT many of Original Silver SEAL Badges around. Mfgs. took unsold silver filled badges and just gold plated them, and Many Team Guys did the same. I have one Meyer and Vanguard examples of this in My collection. It took Me Years in the SpecWar Community to get My 1st Silver SEAL badge and only obtained 4 during the Past 30 Years, These things are rare! I personally got three of them from Legends in the Teams, one at a gunshow. As far as the East Coast Teams, I have seen maybe 20-25 original badges that are from Team Guys, the only 3 makers I have seen are Antaya,Meyer,and Vanguard, all silverfilled with the backward N. In the late 70s early 80s KREW and H&H examples started showing up at shows which I consider collector copies. If there is an original 'issue' sterling Silver SEAL badge out there (not one with the silverfilled ground out and STERLING stamped) I would love to see it.

Rick

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While looking for the original sales catalog, which I still can't find, that advertised these sterling Tridents, I came across the brochure (see scans) for the museum I spoke about where I saw what looked like an original sterling marked Trident. I don't remember which company hallmark was stamped on the back but it was one of the three mentioned either Antaya, Meyers or Vanguard. This was in the 1980s and before digital cameras so I was using high speed film without a flash. I've attached a poor photograph of the sterling marked Trident below a NAG black beret which was supposedly donated to this museum with the mentioned uniform by a former Seal. I took this photo through the glass of a display cabinet which is why it is such a poor photo.

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Just checking thru My records, the UDT/SEAL badges were auth. 16th Oct. 1970 and all Had gone to the Gold Budweiser By the end of 1972.

 

I had an old catolog from a Company out of Chicago that had listed both the UDT and SEAL badges, the UDT badges in EM and Officer, Full and Dress, were original Vanguard and Meyer badges NOS on original Cards. Makes sense as these badge were obsolete and sold off. The SEAL badges were Officer badges (non silverfilled) and the SEAL EM was like a chrome plate job, just really bad. I think they had a sterling badge but had sold out when I ordered. I wonder if that is the Catolog? It was like a 3 ring binder with pages sent as new stock came in. I remember the cover had a Me-109 Drawing on the front. Sold alot of Aviation badges.

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Just checking thru My records, the UDT/SEAL badges were auth. 16th Oct. 1970 and all Had gone to the Gold Budweiser By the end of 1972.

 

I had an old catolog from a Company out of Chicago that had listed both the UDT and SEAL badges, the UDT badges in EM and Officer, Full and Dress, were original Vanguard and Meyer badges NOS on original Cards. Makes sense as these badge were obsolete and sold off. The SEAL badges were Officer badges (non silverfilled) and the SEAL EM was like a chrome plate job, just really bad. I think they had a sterling badge but had sold out when I ordered. I wonder if that is the Catolog? It was like a 3 ring binder with pages sent as new stock came in. I remember the cover had a Me-109 Drawing on the front. Sold alot of Aviation badges.

 

Thanks for the information for the authorization date for the UDT/Seal badges. I'd love to see a copy of the catalog you are speaking about. I was referring to a different insignia sales catalog that I kept but can't find where I purchased this cast fake sterling Trident from.

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craig_pickrall

Is the catalog you are discussing the FOX Military Equipment Co. out of Hindale, IL? I just checked a copy I have and they show both Officer and Enlisted SEAL and UDT. They are shown as gold or silver plate. There is no mention of sterling. I checked through out the catalog and can't find a date.

 

Prices were as follows:

 

SEAL Off - gold - $8.50

SEAL EM - silver - $9.00

UDT Off - Gold - $6.00

UDT EM - silver - $6.50

 

I thought most of their stuff was cheap copies. I didn't think any of it was gov't spec.

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Not to hijack this thread but I was just wondering about this trident that I have... I picked this up in the 90's in Hawaii at a store that was selling military items/ badges. It's approximately 70mm from wingtip to wingtip. It seems well-made and the only marking I can find is L-22, stamped at the back. What is this?

 

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Clutch post...

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The L-22 stamp at the back...

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I believe these were made afterwards (post Vietnam War) for collectors and I think the L22 is for a company called the Lordship Industries.

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Thanks for the info! Did some research on Lordship Industries and found this...

 

THOSE CLAIMING MEDAL OF HONOR

NOTE: In 1996 HLI Lordship Industries (at the time, the OFFICIAL USG contractor for the Medal of Honor) admitted selling THREE HUNDRED unauthorized medals for $75.00 each from 1991-1994. They were fined $80,000. NOT ALL of those medals have been recovered. Offenders in possession of an unauthorized medal can be arrested, fined ( The maximum fine for a criminal offense is $250,000, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section 3571(B)(3) ) and jailed (up to a year). It is the only military medal that CANNOT be bought, sold, bartered, traded, collected, auctioned, exchanged.... EVERY Medal of Honor is awarded by act of Congress. Less than 80 REAL Medal of Honor recipients are alive today.

 

http://pownetwork.org/phonies/phonies1270.htm

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Here's a Trident that I always thought was fake but I took a chance on it. Got it 10 or more years ago from a well known Mid West dealer. You can barely see the KREW stamp.

 

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