Jump to content

WW2 Juarez Air Crew Wings; Made in Mexico?

John Cooper

Recommended Posts

John Cooper

Hello all - here is a recent pickup. I bought this wing so I can have one of both a sterling and coin silver example. I do not recall who told me that or maybe I read it some place but there is some information out there that the reason there was a switch from coin silver to sterling is that the airmen had thoughts that Sterling was better.


I have also thought that it seems logical that coin silver was used since the maker Lampl is supposed to have moved operations to Mexico since there was a shortage of skilled labor due to the war effort. If I am not mistaken it was common for mexican makers to use coin silver.


Alhtough this has yet to be 100% confirmed there is evidence to support lampl moving to Mexico that has come from silver collectors. Patrick Frost I think was the first person that made the connection of Lampl to the Jaurez pattern wing which was most likely due to some examples being marked with the Lampl hallmark.


(I will let Patrick provide more info as needed)


Overall they are interesting wings due to their unique wing style and large size. If you have move information or other opinions on this please post them.. and maybe some examples from your colection.







Link to comment
Share on other sites

John Cooper

Kurt - that is a nice example. The pin looks to be in perfect shape along with the catch. Now that in and of itself is not always an easy find since they are very delicate.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

John et al...


Here is the story how I believe I was able to trace the "juarez" wings down to being made by Walter Lampl. I was visitng my folks a few years ago and was reading this article about the Juarez pattern wing written by John Conway. My mom came in, looked over my shoulder and said "That is the Walter Lampl hallmark". She is an antique jewlery dealer.


A few minutes later, I was on the internet and found a number of webpages about Walter Lampl:




Eventually, I ended up talking with Ms Hoover via email. She confimed 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 didnt 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.


I asked Ms Hoover at one point if their was any reason why some wings were marked STERLING, some COIN SILVER and some had the hallmark. She said no one seemed to recall, it may have been due to when/what was available for making the insignia. As I undestand it, Mexico has a strong silver working tradition and that the marking of the items would have likely followed their rules and regulations, both for exported items and items that may have been sold in Mexico.


To my knowledge, their are the following Juarez style wings:


Pilot, "alphabet" wings (glider, liaison, and service pilot wings--all with added letter to a pilot wing) navigator wing, aircrewman wing, bombardier wing (bomb added to observer wing), observer wing, a VERY rare gunner wing (bullet added to observer wing), one of the WASP classes used the Juarez wing as a base, and at least one WTS flight instructor wing used this as a base.


The pin/hinge style are characteristic for this wing. They have a weak brass pin with a rather delicate catch that frequently breaks.


I think (at least in my mind) that the link with the "Juarez wings" to Walter Lampl is pretty clear.


One other point, the "Bell-style" wings share may similarities with Juarez wings and I have always wondered if that Bell wings arent also made by Walter Lampl for the Bell Trading Co? Something to ponder.




Link to comment
Share on other sites

John Cooper

Thanks patrick I knew you would step up to the plate and hit a home run!


Here is a grad book with a the Juarez wing.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is part of the Juarez family portrait. Missing a few of the Juarezers...but one day.


Also is a photo of wings marked STERLING and COIN SILVER. To me, its not clear that any difference exists between the two. Yet, I know not a few people who will almost sneer at the STERLING marked ones in favor of the COIN SILVER ones. Go figure.




BTW, here is an aircrewman wing with the Walter Lampl hallmark. A "WL" in a shield.


One more note....the "G" in sterling is upside down! Sometimes I see that same flaw in some small 1 and 2 inch wings.




Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
Juarez wings were never made in Mexico. They were manufactured in Newark NJ. It was Federal Law that if they were made in Mexico for sale in the USA, they would have to be marked with the country of origin. Why Sterling and Coin, Walter would run out of sterling and buy coins form the bank and make wings. Once again under Federal Law they have to be stamped of the quality of metal content. Sterling is 92.5 pure silver and the rest copper, coin is 90% pure silver and the rest copper and othert materials. If the wing is made from US coins you can have it tested for arsenic, if positive, its US Coin. Now about the pin assembly. They used a pinch joint and the pin was a thiner metal with a loop on the end held in place by the joint being pressed together rather than the rivet used by others. The clasp was also cheaper and the rotor is well know for falling apart. It was sheet metal bent together around the rotor.


Another bit of false information is being proivde here, Bell wings were made by Bell in Albuquerque and no one else.


Based on what knowledge do you provide this information?


I have provided evidence and research that shows that some Juarez wings are marked with the Walter Lampl hallmark. The company history itself indicates that they moved to Mexico during WWII and produced insignia while there, including sterling silver pieces. One of Walter Lampl's sons is still alive and was able to confirm via communication with Ms Hoover that they made these wings in Mexico. Even if history and a member of Walter Lampl's family are incorrect, this company was located in New York, not Newark NJ.


Here is a page ( http://www.milkywayjewels.com/lampl/lampl.html ) in which a number of insignia made by Walter Lampl are shown, including this 1942 dated USMC bracelet. A bracelet that was likely made in Mexico. Also, here is a Walter Lampl marked sweetheart pin clearly showing both the Walter Lampl hallmark AND the characteristic hinge and joint you describe above for the Juarez wings.


So before you accuse people of providing false information, I would suggest you make an effort to do some research and provide some proof. You dont have to agree with me and I may very well be incorrect, but at least I made the effort and provided historically accurate information and examples to prove my point that can be verified by anyone who is interested.






You dont have to believe me about this, check it out yourself.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Under Federal Law - National Gold and Silver Stamp Act, all sterling silver items are required to be marked with the country of origin if imported into the United States, with a fine of $5000 per item if not marked since 1905. Walter was not about to bring a wing into the USA and risk a fine like that per wing. Also under Mexician law all silver products made in that country had to be marked. If you look at old Mexican silver they are all marked "Mexico."

His sales office was on 47th in NYC, which is still the jewelry wholesale district in New York. His factory in Mexico was not even in Juarez but in Mexico City. He also had a factory in Newark New Jersey.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

John Cooper



So U.S. code title 15 chapter 8 has several sections but I do not see one that specifically states that items need to be marked from country of origin. So if you can be specific as to which section that would be helpful. To add to this I am not sure if this actually covers military insignia.


I am not a lawyer so I may not fully undestand what is written so I may be wrong. Any help is appreciated.


Additionally the following is what I found on the $5000 fine:


Sec. 293. - Penalty for infraction

Every person, partnership, association, or corporation violating the provisions of sections 291 to 293 of this title, and every officer, director, or managing agent of such partnership, association, or corporation having knowledge of such violation and directly participating in such violation or consenting thereto, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction, be punished with a fine of not more than $5,000 or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, at the discretion of the court.



Sec. 291. - Stamping with words ''United States assay'', etc., unlawful

It shall be unlawful for any person, partnership, association, or corporation engaged in commerce among the several States, Territories, District of Columbia, and possessions of the United States, or with any foreign country, to stamp any gold, silver, or goods manufactured therefrom, and which are intended and used in such commerce, with the words ''United States assay'', or with any words, phrases, or devices calculated to convey the impression that the United States Government has certified to the fineness or quality of such gold or silver, or of the gold or silver contained in any of the goods manufactured therefrom. Each and every such stamp shall constitute a separate offense.


Sec. 292. - Forfeiture

Any gold, silver, or goods manufactured therefrom after February 21, 1905, bearing any of the stamps, words, phrases, or devices prohibited to be used under section 291 of this title, and being in the course of transportation from one State to another, or to or from a Territory, the District of Columbia, or possessions of the United States, shall be forfeited to the United States, and may be seized and condemned by like proceedings as those provided by law for the forfeiture, seizure, and condemnation of property imported into the United States contrary to law.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

The Customs Regulations of 1892 and Sections 8 and 11 of the Tariff Act of that year required on imported articles that "the name of the country of origin must, in each instance, appear on the same surface with, and in close proximity to, the commercial markings...The Collector of the Port must in all cases be satisfied that the marking is in no way calculated to deceive the purchaser or customer in this country..."


This has remained a requirement since 1892, carried forward in several different forms. The current incarnation is USC 19, Chapter 4, § 1304.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

I always try to keep an open mind, as one thing my life has taught me is how much I dont know and how frequently I am wrong.


So, I sent an email to a person who I know is doing a fair amount of research on the history of Walter Lampl and asked her to look over this thread and provide us with some of her insight. Ms Van Hoover contacted me about a year ago based on some stuff I had posted on Walter Lampl and the Juarez wing connection. We talked and I found that she had a deep interest in the Walter Lampl Co and was doing research for a book. Mostly her interest is in the jewelry side of Walter Lampl, but was also interested in knowing more about the wings. I also believe that she is/was communicating with Burt Lampl, one of Walter Lampl's sons. This is her response to my question.


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:





I don't know whether the gold work in this ring was made in Mexico, but the cameo was

certainly carved there:



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,




So, I am not so sure that this information settles the score, one way or the other, but it certainly raises the possibility that my contention that Juarez wings were made in Mexico may be incorrect or at least only part of the story.


Just thought I would share this with you guys.



Link to comment
Share on other sites



Great post which I think adds more weight to the Mexican connection although stirs up the pool enough to keep the waters muddy. I can being just imagine some wings in Mexico and shipped to the US and then have the pins attached in N.J. and then sold.


I hope Joe W and Cheri can exchange information and thus help us all out.






BTW keep me posted on the book as it sounds like it is something that will prove useful.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Many of you John Vargas. He has production cards and detail information on the manufacture of Juarez wings. They were made in New Jersey. Please contract John for more detail information. his e-mail is smkngun@earthlink.net

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...
  • 10 months later...
  • 1 month later...
  • 2 years later...

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...