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Angry Birds: A selection of questionable Vietnam era 101st patches


gwb123

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Last, but certainly not least, we have reproductions from Vietnam.

 

Back when Vietnam began to open up to the tourist trade, the locals soon found there was a profit to be made by selling left overs from the war. Eventually, as the supply dried up and the number of tourists increased, they began making reproductions to fill the gap.

 

Some of the early ones, such as this one from the mid-1990's were pretty crude. Vietnam had not yet gotten to the point where internet use was widespread, nor were there many reference books for them to work from. Often patches made from this period were made from some vague recollection of what they used to look like. That not only applied to US patches, but ARVN patches as well. That often resulted in patches that were almost pure fantasy, barely resembling the originals if at all.

 

A case in point is our 101st AIR BONNE clone. It is done on fatigue cloth material, and once had a paper backing.

 

It has been soiled to artificially age it. If you look closely, you can see finger marks on the surface.

 

The embroidery is done by hand guided sewing machine and it is poorly cut.

Vietnam 101 32.jpg

Vietnam 101 32b.jpg

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Many of us who were collecting at that time predicted that the patch makers in Vietnam would improve over time, and they did.

 

There is rumor that enterprising importers brought over copies of Cecil Smyth's Vietnam patch books to use as templates, and the quality of the designs began to improve.

 

This 501st Infantry patch may very well have been inspired by just such a source.

 

Whoever made this one got a little bit too enthusiastic with the embroidery of the main design. It is so thick and heavy it has pulled away from the lighter base material and left a hole.

 

You will note the Vietnamese newspaper backing. Apparently word must have been shared among the patch makers that this is how patches were made back in the day. It seemed that 9 out of 10 patches coming out of Vietnam had Vietnamese news print backing for awhile. Sometimes this betrayed the time frame of the patch, as the newspaper would have a more recent date, or refer to the internet!

 

Whoever made this one was so convinced of the need for this point of authentication that they sewed on an extra piece of newsprint over the center of the backside of the central design.

Vietnam 101 10.jpg

Vietnam 101 10b.jpg

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As with during the war, there seems to have been a wide variety of tailors and sewing styles available to make the new generation of reproductions.

 

This is part of what I called the Wide Edge series, simply because they typically had a very wide edge of excess cloth extending beyond the sewn border.

 

These are typically undersized, about 3/4 the size that they should be. That could likely be that because the source material (internet, books, etc.) often does not provide the dimensions of the original. Some times the excess material was folded, but most of the time these were simply flat.

 

This one looks a bit frazzled because I cleaned it. While not recommended for historic patches, these were often soaked in something nasty to suggest aging. They were so bad that I did not want to put them into a clean mount. As you can see, the edges were not properly trimmed for laundering. I surprised to find that the colors of the thread actually changed from grey to white once they were clean.

 

These are still kind of neat however because of the amount of work that has obviously been put into them. Making them smaller than normal may have saved thread and material, but most likely it made the embroidery more difficult as well.

Vietnam 101 31.jpg

Vietnam 101 31b.jpg

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Apparently in the 1990's and early 2000's there was a fair amount of vintage scrap material still available in Vietnam. Patches were produced in every type of camouflage cloth conceivable.

 

This is done on a nice piece of Tiger Stripe, which probably could have been put to better use. The reverse threads are covered by a green cotton fatigue cloth. This is apparently another myth that circulated among the modern patch makers as a number of patches have shown up this way. Either that, or they have learned that Western collectors often judge the authenticity of a patch from the reverse side.

 

As you will note, by this time, all the triggers that will trap a collector's interest were known to the patch makers. Hand embroidered, attached Vietnam tab and for a LRRP on Tiger Stripe cloth.... who could resist? Judging by the successive price tags, someone was impressed with this patch.

 

By the way, unit patches worn in country during the war rarely said "Vietnam" on them unless they were a souvenir or off duty item.

Vietnam 101 2.jpg

Vietnam 101 2b.jpg

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As many of us know, the modernization of post war Vietnam is one of the economic success stories of the past few decades.

 

It is becoming harder and harder to find hand embroidered reproduction patches from Vietnam. Instead, we are seeing more and more of the mass produced machine manufactured patches similar to what you might see from Taiwan.

 

 

Vietnam 101 26.jpg

Vietnam 101 26b.jpg

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I will end with this one, which is a bit of a mystery, as many reproduction patches sometimes end up being.

 

I was ready to call this one Pakistani made, based on the embroidery and the thread used for the lettering and border stitching.

 

However, it begs the question, where would a Pakistani tailor find what appears to be US fatigue cloth?

 

Now it is possible that such cloth could have been supplied by whoever commissioned the patch to be made.

 

It is possible that the cloth or scrap of such cloth could have been sent overseas in a pile of rags.

 

Or, someone using Pakistani or Indian embroidery methods could have made this in another country, such as Korea, where US troops are common.

 

This is a good illustration of how a patch with no background or provenance can provide more questions than answers.

 

I hope you have enjoyed browsing through this flock of angry birds. Should I find more, I will add them.

 

If you want more information on fake and reproduction insignia of the Vietnam War, please see the other threads on the Real or What forum, including http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/866-fake-vietnam-insignia/

 

Thanks for reading.

Pakistan 101 1.jpg

Pakistan 101 1b.jpg

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Heck of a topic. This is almost a book on the subject, and it's one unit. Fantastic work in detailing why these patches are bad. Good lesson here for everyone. Thanks for taking the time to put it together.

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We appreciate your effort to put this together for us. I was a little shocked to see a number of these copies coming from where I reside yet for 35 plus years of collecting I have not come across any of this stuff locally at garage sales, flea markets, etc. You would think that I would have heard something by now about such and such a person making this crap.

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We appreciate your effort to put this together for us. I was a little shocked to see a number of these copies coming from where I reside yet for 35 plus years of collecting I have not come across any of this stuff locally at garage sales, flea markets, etc. You would think that I would have heard something by now about such and such a person making this crap.

 

Just because they are made there does not mean they are sold there. It's interesting to trace out how this stuff gets distributed. I know one repro artist who liked to give dealers a "special deal" and give them a discount if they bought in bulk. Some dealers, not knowing any better, took the bait and became his distribution system across the country. But thank you for the compliment. It has taken since 1994 to pull all of this together.

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Since you younger members will be around in 20 years, I would hope you are saving all the images somewhere and you look at them every once in awhile and REMEMBER them so you don't get burned in 2036. Again, this is a tremendous undertaking - so many books on what good stuff looks like, and this is a great start to what kaka (not sure I can say crap) looks like.

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Great reference, i spent about 45 minutes digesting it all last night! Thanks for all of your hard work to put this together! Really is a great resource for the collecting community!

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  • 2 years later...

Impressive batch of fakes. Do you have any made in the Nam to compare?

 

Unfortunately, I don't. I am sure if we started a new thread requesting members to post authentic Vietnam made patches we'd get responses.

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Well Done! Thanks for the effort you put in to this subject.

 

Thank you. Years in the making.

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  • 1 month later...
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  • 5 months later...
Tobyledog

Many thanks Gill. I found it fascinating to read not least for your comments/reasons as to why they are not correct. Unfortunately the bad ones still look the same as the good ones to me.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 2/11/2021 at 9:59 AM, Tobyledog said:

Many thanks Gill. I found it fascinating to read not least for your comments/reasons as to why they are not correct. Unfortunately the bad ones still look the same as the good ones to me.

 

Don't feel bad.  These are designed to fool collectors.  Several of these did exactly that with some folks who were reasonably experienced in the field.  Thanks for reading.

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One of he 1st things I ever collected was Guinness Publicity including a range of Ceramic "Zoo" figurines by Carlton Ware. The moulds were never destroyed & somebody started making them again in the 1990's but the painting was horrendous & I mean horrendous & nothing like the original. People still pay hundreds of pounds for them & I think "why" when they are so obviously fake so I guess its similar with the patches to those(such as yourself) who know. Having said that apparently some were made in the 1970's which were indistinguishable from the real thing

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