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WWI Observer wing

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If your gonna ask premium price for something on ebay you better make sure your stuff is worth it and you don't leave a bunch of unanswered questions hanging out there.

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The seller may not agree, but I was relieved to see no one pursued the purchase of this very questionable WWI Observer badge...

 

 

Hi Russ,

 

This is a very questionable badge? No exactly. . . and the continue saga to this thread is not quite over yet.

 

Cliff ;)

 

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I eagerly await the next episode ! :blink:


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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I had hoped to acquire an image or two of the back of the Observer badge without the cloth backing...but that didn't happen. The seller did provide a sneak-peek image of the pin and catch with the original auction listing, but that view provided few clues as to how the badge was actually constructed.

 

The badge itself appears more British in design than American...but the findings on the reverse look like they may be American. Possibly a Canadian/Commonwealth Observer's badge attached to an old American uniform?

 

Paul mentioned he didn't care for the soft details in the hand chased feathering and I agree. I would also expect to see evidence of a jeweler's saw creating deeper spacing between the feather tips like the authentic Eisenstadt-style American Observer badge posted for comparison.


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Hi Russ,

 

This is a very questionable badge? Not exactly. . . and the continuing saga to this thread is not quite over yet.

 

Cliff ;)

 

 

Contrary to what has been learned up to know about the man, Charles M. Eccles actually was a Second Lieutenant in the Aviation Section, Signal Corps and completed training as a 'Bomber' (some Observers received training as Bombers). He also graduated from Ohio University, Class of 1914 (not Ohio State University), and after WWI he continued his education and received a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from The American School of Osteopathy, Class of 1921 before setting up a practice in Connersville, IN. Born March 10, 1894, he died on November 28, 1978.

 

In 1970 while searching through the archives at what is now called the National Museum of the USAF, I found a copy of a booklet with the title, Roster Of Officers Who Have Accepted Commissions In Aviation Section, Signal Officers Reserves Corps as of April 15, 1920. It is 55 pages thick and lists every Colonel, Lt/Colonel, Major, Captain, First Lieutenant and Second Lieutenant in the Air Service Reserve Officers Corps. It was published by the Director of Air Service, Washington, DC on June 5, 1920.

 

Listed on page 23 is the name, (Second Lieutenant) Charles M. Eccles, 'Bomber' (observer), of Mineral, Ohio.

 

Below is a copy of the front cover of the booklet, and part of page 23 with the list of abbreviations and codes.

 

Cliff

 

PS: Additional information and photos to follow when completed.

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Great information Cliff. I love it when obscure information comes to light and can shed a great deal of information on the discussion. Thank you.

 

I have nowhere near the level of research experience into this field that Cliff has (as a scientist, I tip my hat to you, Dr. CP!), but I would say that it is my little experience that this particular time period is full of incomplete and sometimes wildly inaccurate information. What is even more telling is that this information that was so hard to find actually closely matches the information that the seller provides about the uniform. I would think that it is now very unlikely that the seller "put together" the uniform out of whole cloth. Not that the wings couldn't be an addition, but if the name in the uniform matches a known guy who would have worn that badge...

 

It is still my opinion is that the wings don't look half bad to me, and I would have really enjoyed a closer in hand examination. But the Eisenstadt wings are all hand made (I believe) and this one shows some of the characteristics of that family of badges that I have seen in other collections. I don't own an Eisenstadt wing, so I can only go by the ones that other people have (like Russ). I have to admit the findings look to be later than WWI (as pointed out by Russ and others), but maybe it was a replacement?

 

P

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Cliff,

 

Thanks for posting this reference!


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" We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. "

View my website honoring the men and women of Indiana: http://indianavets.wix.com/indiana-at-war and follow my updates on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IndianaModernAgeofWar/
Interested in US uniforms? Join the Association of American Military Uniform Collectors! http://aamuc.org/or find us on Facebook! facebook.com/AAMUC.ORG

 

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Well, here is the story on the wings that I have found.

He was born in Pennsylvania, cant remember what year, but graduated from Ohio State University in 1914. Either he went to Germany at some point, or his ancestors were German, because there were lots of German things, non military related, at the estate. He collected knives, so his daughter, on her WAVES duty all over the Pacific Theater, bought him different blades. He died in Connersville, Indiana. His uniform came out of a trunk that was in his grand daughter's garage for many years,............ so far I have not heard anything back from her, but they were not "collectors" in her family, the accumulated whatever they had, when everyone was gone, it went into the attic and garage, and that is where it stayed, until a month or two ago. No one bought the wings to enhance the value of the uniform, they have been pinned on the tunic since he took it off. I bought some WWI aircraft photos at a different auction, totally unrelated to this uniform, and one of them is a nice 8 x 10 photo of a plane, and on the back it says, "We now paint the names of the pilots and the observers on the sides of the plane, so we can tell who they are when they crash. Usually they are unrecognizable." Then he talks about many more pilot observers getting to France, but too late to go into service to fly in the War. The wings are the same age as the uniform, sorry he didnt write his name in the uniform, scratch his name on the back of the wings,............ they are 100% genuine, and fresh estate find stuff. Very little else there was military, other then some blades, and this uniform. I am still trying to see if the auction house can get a photo of him in uniform from the grand daughter, Have not heard back from them, it is a small auction house, and I am not a high priority for them, nor the grand daughter. The wings are as real as it gets. Sorry they are not in anyone's books, but not everything comes out of a box. The family got only $10 more from me, then they would have, from the other guy who was bidding on them. had he not been there, I would have gotten it for $30 or 40. That is how the game works.......

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Awesome........ just scrolled up...... and saw what you wrote Cliff! I guess he IS in a book............ not just a fantasy story from a greedy grand daughter, carving up the family turkey.

it doesnt "make" the wings real, but they are. too bad he didnt have a jewelry box full of them!!!

if you can, could look up a man named ralph huntington, squadron 346 for me? he was a senior pilot, went over seas, but dont know anything else about him really, other then he was killed in a barn storming / flying circus in 1923. he is my great uncle.

thanks!!!

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Awesome........ just scrolled up...... and saw what you wrote Cliff! I guess he IS in a book............ not just a fantasy story from a greedy grand daughter, carving up the family turkey.

it doesnt "make" the wings real, but they are. too bad he didnt have a jewelry box full of them!!!

if you can, could look up a man named ralph huntington, squadron 346 for me? he was a senior pilot, went over seas, but dont know anything else about him really, other then he was killed in a barn storming / flying circus in 1923. he is my great uncle.

thanks!!!

 

Hello Ted,

 

Your great uncle 2/Lt. Ralph C. Huntington, Reserve Military Aviator (RMA) is listed in the list of United States Army Air Service Airplane Pilot Officers for November 11, 1918 but with an incorrect address, Bloomington, Iowa. His correct address was in Bloomington, Indiana.

 

He is not listed in the Air Service Reserve Officers List for April 15, 1920.

 

The only other thing I could find on him was that he was born in 1895 and died in April 1923.

 

He is buried in the Mt. Gilead Cemetery in Bloomington, Indiana.

 

If you would like to learn a little more about him I would suggest that you go to the main public library in Bloomington, IN and check the microfiche records of the local newspapers for the month of April 1923 which they should have on file.

 

BTW: Did you get my letter?

 

Kind regards,

 

Cliff Presley

 


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Great information Cliff. I love it when obscure information comes to light and can shed a great deal of information on the discussion. Thank you.

 

I have nowhere near the level of research experience into this field that Cliff has (as a scientist, I tip my hat to you, Dr. CP!), but I would say that it is my little experience that this particular time period is full of incomplete and sometimes wildly inaccurate information. What is even more telling is that this information that was so hard to find actually closely matches the information that the seller provides about the uniform. I would think that it is now very unlikely that the seller "put together" the uniform out of whole cloth. Not that the wings couldn't be an addition, but if the name in the uniform matches a known guy who would have worn that badge...

 

It is still my opinion is that the wings don't look half bad to me, and I would have really enjoyed a closer in hand examination. But the Eisenstadt wings are all hand made (I believe) and this one shows some of the characteristics of that family of badges that I have seen in other collections. I don't own an Eisenstadt wing, so I can only go by the ones that other people have (like Russ). I have to admit the findings look to be later than WWI (as pointed out by Russ and others), but maybe it was a replacement?

 

Patrick,

 

I thought Lieutenant Eccles observer half-wing was a legitimate badge for three reasons.

 

(1) I am fortunate to have in my collection two U.S. observer half-wings, two full-size Bombing Military Aviator (BMA) wings. . . plus one BMA in a smaller size, and one beautiful pilot wing badge - each of which were made by the same jewelry company; M. Eisenstadt Mfg. Co., St. Louis, MO. All six of those badges came directly from the original owners or their immediate next of kin instead of a dealer.

 

(2) Both the findings on the back and the material used to make the back plate on Lieutenant Eccles badge are an exact match to those on the two observer badges made by Eisenstadt that I have.

 

(3) While Lieutenant Eccles badge with its uncommon upswept wing tip may have thrown a few folks a curve ball, the design really isn't that far fetched. Let's remember that right after the U.S. declared war on Germany in 1917 a number of military advisors were sent here by England and France to help the Air Service when it first started training many of the American airmen that would be needed during the war. Therefore, the Eisenstadt craftsman who made Lieutenant Eccles badge probably came up with the idea for its design after seeing a British observer half-wing being worn on the uniform of one of the military advisors sent here by England.

 

Patrick, you also have a very nice U.S. observer half-wing in your collection which was made by another jewelry firm after its designer may have also seen an English officer wearing a British observer half-wing on his uniform (see below).

 

Merry Christmas,

 

Cliff

 

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Well said Cliff,

 

I have photos of American aerosquadron members taken in France where you can see that many of the American observers are wearing what look to be very much like British style cloth observer wings (in white silk thread--although the details could also suggest silver bullion). So that pattern of upswept wing that was used by the British was clearly popular with American observers in France. My wing was made by a jewelry firm in Los Angeles, so either they used some of their imagination in making a wing or (as you said) they had some sense of what the British observers were wearing.

 

I have a very soft spot for WWI observer half wings. Frankly, if the price had been within in my budget, I may have taken a stab at that uniform!

 

Patrick

 

BTW here is a perfect example of an American wearing a British style observer wing. I can't really tell if it is a bullion wing or white silk thread wing, but... This photo was taken in France, probably late in the war or just after the end of the war. I suspect that these four (pilots with their observers) had been deloused and that is why they are bald! This photo came from the album of Lt Sloan of the 268th Aerosquadron.

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Lieutenant Eccles' badge with its uncommon upswept wing tip may have thrown a few folks a curve ball but the design really isn't that far fetched. Let's remember that right after the U.S. declared war on Germany in 1917 a number of military advisors were sent here by England and France to help the U. S. Air Service begin training many of the American airmen that would be needed during the war. Therefore, the Eisenstadt craftsman who made the badge probably got the idea after seeing a British observer half-wing being worn on the uniform of one of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) advisors sent here from England.

 

Adding one more log to the fire:

 

Here is a beautiful WW1 observer halfwing that was once in the collection owned by J. Duncan Campbell. It had been worn by 2Lt. Edward R. Nern who had been a Balloon Observer stationed at Arcadia, California in June 1919. Mr. Campbell had approached Mr. Nern in the 1960s about buying the wing from him but he was not interested in selling it; however, in 1992 it came in the mail as an unexpected 'gift' from the widow of Mr. Nern who thought he would like to add it to his collection. Totally shocked by her generosity, he sent her a nice check anyway. In later years he would occasionally refer to this halfwing with great affection as his "delayed fuse."

 

This badge was later purchase by a well known California collector when Mr. Campbell's collection was auctioned off by Bonhams & Butterfields in June 2009.

 

Cliff

 

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Cliff,

 

I presume you are soon to be (or already are) the new owner of this badge? If so, congratulations. As I wrote previously, I feel it compares favorably to other Eisenstadt, hand-made wings of this type.

 

Best wishes, and here's hoping many new wings for you and everyone else here on the Wing forum in 2016

 

Chris


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Thank you Chris!!

 

When the uniform did not sell on eBay - Ted the seller and I worked out an amicable deal that was satisfactory for both of us. . . but after the badge arrived and was in hand I had to admit to myself that I had no idea how really nice it would actually be when seen in the flesh.

 

To coin a phrase, Terry Hatcher once said on the 'Sienfeld' TV show, "They're (it's) Spectacular," :)

 

Kind regards and Happy New Year.

 

Cliff

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Good for you Cliff. I have a soft spot in my head... er heart... for observer half wings, I must admit.

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Good for you Cliff. I have a soft spot in my head... er heart... for observer half wings, I must admit.

 

Thank you Patrick, that was very kind of you.

 

Re: WWI Observer wing badge of Lieutenant Charles M. Eccles, Bomber-Observer made of Sterling Silver.

 

The badge finally arrived and it is a lot larger than expected. With its patina, the magnificent hand chased engraving and the extended upward sweep of the convex wing reaching for the sky this wing makes a very strong statement.

 

Have posted a number of photos taken at various angles for a better look at the details.

 

Cliff

 

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