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cwnorma

World War One Weekly Wing #10

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Last week we shared a wing that made me reconsider my preconceived notions with respect to American- versus European-made wings. This week's discussion is one in a number of WWOWW posts that will examine; "what makes one WW1 wing more in demand than another?"

 

Its strange, but true; pin back embroidered wings are far more desirable than sew on embroidered wings. Prices at auction always reflect the disparity. Given two identical embroidered wings; one pin-on, one sew-on, the pin-back badge will always sell first, and for more money:

 

post-594-0-47299400-1583077260_thumb.jpeg

 

The question this week is; "Why is this so?"

 

Perhaps somewhere in the neighborhood of 1/3 to a little less than half of embroidered wings are found with pin-back attachments. So they are a bit more uncommon than their sew-on cousins. While no World War One wing can ever be truly called common, amongst WW1 wings, the second most commonly found badges, only after the sew on variety, are the pin back, American type-1 embroidered badges.


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What about the pin back attachment makes it more desirable?

 

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The majority of WW1 pin back embroidered wing badges are configured such as the badge above. A background form of brass or some other thin metal with a pin attachment has the embroidered badge lapped around the form and stitched fast with thread on the back. Normally the lapping and stitching is fairly roughly done and significant amounts of the back plate are visible. Less commonly found are badges where the excess backing material is left longer and the entire back plate is covered and stitched fast. The former method would have been easier and cheaper on the part of the maker of the badge to manufacture, the latter would have been more durable and resistant to wear.

 

Back plates are found in many configurations. Some appear to have been merely cut with tin-snips to a rough approximation of a shallow half moon, while others, like the badge above appear to have been die cut into a sort of "bat wing" shape. This particular badge exhibits a safety catch but many pin back embroidered badges may be found with simple catches. Unlike their relatively expensive (even in 1918) sterling counterparts, which almost always have safety catches, pin-backed embroidered badges seem to have been generally more about utility than loss prevention.

 

Bailey Banks and Biddle advertised that wings; "Embroidered in pure silver bullion on dark blue cloth" could be ordered from the firm for $2.25. A "special pin attachment" could be had for .50c more.

 

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If they aren't really that much more rare, why are they generally worth so much more? Well in 1918, one of the main reasons pin back badges came into being was the need to wash uniforms. Embroidered badges sewn fast to the uniform may have looked more neat as they lay very flat on the jacket, but if castor oil or some other soiling got on the uniform it would need to be cleaned. Bullion is not very durable and successive cleanings would have made short work of destroying it. Hence the need for some other means to affix the badge. Various mounting methods such as snaps and hooks (a different WWOWW post) appear to have been tried, but the type with the greatest utility seems to have been the pin back.

 

So again, why are they so much more valuable? Perhaps again its because of their utility. Collectors may just like them better because they are easier to restore a named tunic that might be missing its wing.

 

What different configurations of pin-back embroidered wings do you have?

 

Chris


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I have never understood why the same wing with a pin back seems to be more valued than a wing without. Even if the bullion is the same. I believe that most of it is simply collector preference. When I first started collecting the bias against clutchback wings was still pretty high compared to pin back wings. Even then (in the late 80's) guys were still telling me that clutchback wings were always post war.

 

It is a head scratcher.

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Patrick,

 

It has always been a head scratcher for me too. I have picked up some really lovely bullion wings over the years that went begging for a buyer because they had no pin back. I was glad to get them!

 

I was hoping to see others' different pin back variations. So in that spirit, I'll post a few photos I have gotten from the internet over the years for comparison sake:

 

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American-made. Two-tier shoulder. Black separation threads.

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Half moon shape. Fully lapped cloth on back. Long pin. Simple catch.


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Another interesting pin back badge:

 

post-594-0-53981600-1583597998_thumb.jpg

American made. Two-tier shoulder. Black separation threads

post-594-0-99210100-1583598009_thumb.jpg

Bat wing shape. 3/4 lapped cloth on back. Long pin. Lever lock catch


767409605_sigcustom3.png.e95257302e2a500ba241cd8cdc44ff0c.png

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Yet another interesting variation:

 

post-594-0-43184600-1583598480_thumb.jpg

American-made. Two-tier shoulder. Black separation threads

post-594-0-66908200-1583598491_thumb.jpg

Very small size, highly conformal back plate; apparently to minimize backing material visible on front. 1/2 lapped cloth. Short pin. Safety catch.


767409605_sigcustom3.png.e95257302e2a500ba241cd8cdc44ff0c.png

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...and yet another interesting variation:

 

post-594-0-97568100-1583599340_thumb.jpeg

American-made. Two-tier shoulder. Black separation threads.

post-594-0-26034000-1583599361_thumb.jpeg

Hand-shaped back plate with "hump" above shield. Separate cloth backing sewn fast at edges. Long pin. Lever lock safety catch


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Here is a different type wing. Interesting how apparently the same front wing can exhibit radically different backings:

 

post-594-0-18497700-1583599800.jpg

American-made. Dashed-line shoulder. Black separation threads

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1) Crescent-moon (slight) shape. Fully lapped backing cloth. Medium pin. Unusual safety catch.

2) Half-moon shape. Fully lapped cloth. Long pin. Safety catch.

3) Wax-paper backing


767409605_sigcustom3.png.e95257302e2a500ba241cd8cdc44ff0c.png

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Finally, still a different WW1 wing design with a sewn in back plate:

 

post-594-0-35641300-1583600716_thumb.jpeg

American-made wing. Faceted-thread shoulders. Black separation thread.

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Bat-wing shaped. 90% lapped back. Long pin. Simple catch.

As you can see there are many variations, small and large, of these pin back bullion wings. I'd love to see what other interesting examples might be out there in the collections! What have you got?

 

Chris


767409605_sigcustom3.png.e95257302e2a500ba241cd8cdc44ff0c.png

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