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WW1 Balloon Observer Wings

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All,

 

While on leave visiting my parents in Florida, I attended a huge flea market in Webster Florida. There was a tremendous amount of good items there, and had I a lot more money, I could have purchased many things. I did walk away with some WW1 collar insignia, buttons, two overseas caps, and a Squad-level whistle on a chain, all for less than $30. My Dad found a CW canteen with cover and sling, and a few other small items. I highly reccomend the Webster Flea market as many northern "pickers" come down for thier vacations, and there is a lot of good stuff. Unfortnately, I recently purchased a very nice WW1 wing at a gunshow, so I was a little cash poor, and had to pass on some really nice items. Oh well. But for those of you within a few hours drive of Webster FL, it is definately worth the trip.

 

Anyway, I just wanted to get the word out, that I saw what was purported to be a pair of "WW1 Balloon Observer" wings. I wasn't able to take a picture of them, but I will describe them here so that if later on, they get "associated" with a grouping, you guys will be fore-warned.

 

They were approximately three inches long--oversized for a half wing. Where the "O" or "shield" would normally be on a half wing there was a balloon and suspended basket The balloon and basket were made from one flat piece of silver, with a gold "US" separately applied, and the wing was made from another flat piece. Details on the baloon and wing were hand-punched, and not particularly well. The details in the balloon and wing reminded me of the level of workmanship sometimes seen in cruder versions of trench art. The silver pieces were affixed to a backer plate (the same method as a "Dallas" type wing) that had dark olive velvet instead of the blue/black cloth of the "Dallas" type wings. Finally, the badge was screw backed (no pin), but instead of "male" externally threaded posts, the posts were "female" with internal threads. There were no spinners.

 

I will say that this wing looks old. Furthermore the workmanship is such that if you got it with a known grouping with a photograph of the guy wearing it, you would say look at this delightful wing, in that case, it's crudeness would be a positive factor, because it would be a hand-made, one of a kind. But on the loose, it very easily could be a fantasy--which I believe it to be. If it had been very cheap, I would have bought it just to have as an example, but the guy wanted $500 for it, and I wasn't going to spend that much on what I thought to be a fantasy.

 

So, to my fellow early aviation/wing collectors; forewarned, is forearmed. If you see this wing down the road, and it somehow has been"associated" to a group, remember that it was once for sale on its own at a flea market in Webster Florida.

 

Chris


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Thanks for the heads-up Chris I am sure it will surface someplace - EBay...


Always looking for Wings & Named Air Medals!

Motto: To Collect, Preserve, and Remember!

 

 

 

 

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Hi Chris,

 

I will second your recomendation for that flea market as well. I travel to Florida every few years and allways make it a point to check in there. I have found some reeeeeaall good items there over the years!

 

Gary


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"YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MUCH RED WINE, TOO MANY BOOKS, OR TOO MUCH AMMUNITION."

Rudyard Kipling

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Whats my prize ;)


Always looking for Wings & Named Air Medals!

Motto: To Collect, Preserve, and Remember!

 

 

 

 

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Chris or John,

 

Anyone know the seller?

 

Paul


Paul Conrad
Still looking for quality wings!

www.conradwings.com
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I am bored prefixing everything I say with "I think" or "in my opinion".
Everything I say is my opinion; the only thing of which I am certain is that there is very little of which one can be certain.

 


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What is interesting is the "shuck and jive" he is presenting on the auction. As if he has noooooo idea what this is supposed to be--got it from some "jewelry dealer woman". That a goon.

 

Patrick

 

from his auction....

 

"I DON'T REALLY KNOW WHAT TO CALL THESE. AS FAR AS THE BOOKS GO, THEY DON'T EXIST. THE JEWELRY DEALER I BOUT THEM FROM SOLD THEM TO ME FOR LESS THEN THE VALUE OF THE GOLD AND SILVER . AND SHE DID STUPIDLY POLISH THE BEEJEASUS OUTTA THEM. THEY ARE NOT A FULL SET THATS BEEN CUT DOWN, IF THEY WERE THERE WOULD BE SOME EVIDENCE OF THE OTHER WING, PLUS, THEY WOULD BE WAY TOO BIG. BACKGROUND CLOTH IS OBVIOUSLY OLD, BUT AN ODD COLOR GREEN.THEY HAVE OBVIOUSLY BEEN WORN. BACKINGS HAVE NO THREADS I HAVE NO IDEA HOW THEY WERE ATTACHED! LOL.LOTS OF QUESTIONS TO BE ANSWERED AND IF ANYONE OUT THERE CAN PLEASE LET ME KNOW., THEY ARE BEAUTIFULLY MADE. MAYBE SOME KIND OF PRIVATE SPHERICAL BALLOON WING? YOU TELL ME. YOU WON'T BE DISSAPPOINTED WHEN YOU GET THEM, I'M PRETTY SURE OF THAT.I HAD THESE LISTED SOME TIME BACK, BUT GOT A CALL FROM THE ORIGINAL JEWELRY LADY THAT AN ALBUM SURFACED SO I PULLED THE AUCTION. AFTER SEEING THE ALBUM, THERE WAS NO CONECTION. SO HERE THEY ARE."

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Yes, I thought it interesting that he seems to plead ignorence, when throws out Duncan Campbells name and makers names think.gif :

 

"I had a pilots wing 30 years ago, french made that did have similar studs and little wagon wheel threaded stems on the wheels,[they looked a lot like a lintz wing] with pics of the wearer and certificate. sold to don miller years ago,I have seen real pilots wings with studs, i disagree with you on that. [though i have not seen balloon, i would think some would follow the same manufacturing principles] he sold it to duncan campbell i believe. this is not cast, it looks to be repousse and hand engraved. I wondered if maybe it was a period joke of some type, but why would it be made so well? it is silver and the us is real gold i'm sure from thr wear. not gonna test them or file on them. thanks for the info. Wings from this era scare the hell outta me when they follow the rules as it is, when they don't, its just that much scarier! lol.thanks"


Paul Conrad
Still looking for quality wings!

www.conradwings.com
donation2007.gifdonation2008.gif
donation2009.gifdonation2010.gifdonation2011.gifdonation2012.gif
donation2013.gifdonation2014.gifdonation2015.gifdonation2016.gif
donation2017.gifdonation2018.gifdonation2019.gif

I am bored prefixing everything I say with "I think" or "in my opinion".
Everything I say is my opinion; the only thing of which I am certain is that there is very little of which one can be certain.

 


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Chris or John,

 

Anyone know the seller?

 

Paul

Paul,

 

I don't know if it is the same guy who had them in Webster, or for that matter who "deadpeoplesjunk" is. Either way, I don't know him.

 

Chris


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Yes, I thought it interesting that he seems to plead ignorence, when throws out Duncan Campbells name and makers names think.gif :

 

"I had a pilots wing 30 years ago, french made that did have similar studs and little wagon wheel threaded stems on the wheels,[they looked a lot like a lintz wing] with pics of the wearer and certificate. sold to don miller years ago,I have seen real pilots wings with studs, i disagree with you on that. [though i have not seen balloon, i would think some would follow the same manufacturing principles] he sold it to duncan campbell i believe. this is not cast, it looks to be repousse and hand engraved. I wondered if maybe it was a period joke of some type, but why would it be made so well? it is silver and the us is real gold i'm sure from thr wear. not gonna test them or file on them. thanks for the info. Wings from this era scare the hell outta me when they follow the rules as it is, when they don't, its just that much scarier! lol.thanks"

 

Paul,

 

Wow. Don Miller. That is a name I haven't heard in a life time. Miller had a militaria shop in Tampa FL, and if I recall was murdered there. He was one of the original "Easy Greens" Back in the 80s; painting up WW1 helmets. Years ago, I bought a couple of trench knives from him, and a set of Navy undress whites. If this guy knew Miller then those wings are probably still in Florida.

 

Still, that shop of his was a heck of a place to go in. Piled floor to ceiling with uniforms, swords, helmets, gear, junk. None of it in boxes, all of it randomly thrown wherever. You would have to go digging through the piles of musty junk to find anything.

 

Miller definitely was not above faking things.

 

Chris


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Chris or John,

 

Anyone know the seller?

 

Paul

 

 

No sorry I do not... the seller knows that this is junk...

 

John


Always looking for Wings & Named Air Medals!

Motto: To Collect, Preserve, and Remember!

 

 

 

 

donation2007.gifdonation2008.gifdonation2009.gifdonation2010.gif

donation2011.gifdonation2012.gifdonation2013.gifdonation2014.gif

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Chris or John,

 

Anyone know the seller?

 

Paul

 

 

Rick Hunt

deadpeoplesjunk

2063 central

st pete fla 33713



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Paul,

 

Wow. Don Miller. That is a name I haven't heard in a life time. Miller had a militaria shop in Tampa FL, and if I recall was murdered there. He was one of the original "Easy Greens" Back in the 80s; painting up WW1 helmets. Years ago, I bought a couple of trench knives from him, and a set of Navy undress whites. If this guy knew Miller then those wings are probably still in Florida.

 

Still, that shop of his was a heck of a place to go in. Piled floor to ceiling with uniforms, swords, helmets, gear, junk. None of it in boxes, all of it randomly thrown wherever. You would have to go digging through the piles of musty junk to find anything.

 

Miller definitely was not above faking things.

 

Chris

Chris,

I think you got your Florida guys mixed up. Al Smith was the helmet painter that was murdered. Don Miller had two shops in Tampa over the years. He died of a heart attack a few years ago while working in a HD dealership in St. Pete. I know this for a fact as he was one of my closest friends. We go back to the USMC in Vietnam. I've spent many hours helping him straighten up that mess he used to call a shop. Don to my knowledge never faked anything but Al Smith was a completely different story. His helmet fakes were so good he had to put a little partially hidden mark on them so he didn't but them back as originals by accident.

Garth


The three best things in life are a good landing, a good orgasm, and a good bowel movement.

A night carrier landing is one of the few opportunities to experience all three at the same time.

 

You can not pronounce as knowledge anything you can not demonstrate.

 

 

 

 

ASMIC Secretary

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Chris,

I think you got your Florida guys mixed up. Al Smith was the helmet painter that was murdered. Don Miller had two shops in Tampa over the years. He died of a heart attack a few years ago while working in a HD dealership in St. Pete. I know this for a fact as he was one of my closest friends. We go back to the USMC in Vietnam. I've spent many hours helping him straighten up that mess he used to call a shop. Don to my knowledge never faked anything but Al Smith was a completely different story. His helmet fakes were so good he had to put a little partially hidden mark on them so he didn't but them back as originals by accident.

Garth

 

I'll second this! I knew Don Miller pretty well and visited his shop whenever I got to Tampa. He was a VERY knowlegable collector & dealer and a most interesting guy. He had a remarkable knack for turning up great stuff. I never heard a peep about Don being a faker of anything. May he Rest in Peace.

Semper Fi.....Bobgee


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"I have only two men out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold." (Message sent by 1st Lt. Clifton B. Cates. USMC, 96th Co., Soissons, 19 July 1918 - later 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps 1948-1952)

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Chris,

I think you got your Florida guys mixed up. Al Smith was the helmet painter that was murdered. Don Miller had two shops in Tampa over the years. He died of a heart attack a few years ago while working in a HD dealership in St. Pete. I know this for a fact as he was one of my closest friends. We go back to the USMC in Vietnam. I've spent many hours helping him straighten up that mess he used to call a shop. Don to my knowledge never faked anything but Al Smith was a completely different story. His helmet fakes were so good he had to put a little partially hidden mark on them so he didn't but them back as originals by accident.

Garth

 

Garth,

 

Man you are causing neurons that haven't fired in years to fire. You are right, I had to call home and talk to Dad to be sure, but it was Al Smith who was the helmet faker. Don Miller was a friend of Bob Spring's, and Dad also re-iterated that he had a Heart Attack.

 

So to the memory of Don, and all that knew him, I apologize. Al Smith was the helmet faker.

 

mea culpa

 

Chris


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Alan Smith wasn't murdered either, he died of natural causes but he did kill a guy many years ago and did some time for it. He was the undisputed master at faking German helmets and had one of the best collections of real ones there was and the most knowledgeable on the subject of anyone I ever meet. Also one of the biggest characters I ever meet.


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