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WWI Balloon wings for discussion

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Hi, I'd welcome any insight into these... they measure approx. 2 5/8" across. The base material is a fine wool. Are they good, bad or association? Thanks, Bill

Balloon a.jpg

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Hi Bill,

Admittedly WWI embroidered badges are not my strength, but just looking at appearances and construction, I would not feel very confident about these wings. I base this on the very loose construction of the embroidery and the sewing construction of the badge. Have you tried blacklighting them as well?

I am sure more experienced folks will respond as well.




Tod Rathbone
Rathbone Museum of WWII Aviation Uniforms and Insignia


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Whoo boy.  This one is a can of worms.

The problem with first type (silk) Aeronaut badges is that practically no one has ever seen one and even fewer own one.  I know I haven't, and don't.

So I'll stick to what I do know.  Duncan Campbell was fortunate enough to have found one, and according to what he wrote in his book, we can trust that his badge was biographical and genuine.   Regardless, this type of badge is exceedingly scarce and furthermore; was known to very unpopular during the era they were authorized.  Nearly every Aeronaut would have gone out and purchased the badge in bullion.

Here is Duncan Campbell's first type (silk) Aeronaut from the Bonham's Auction of his collection:



Your badges do not particularly resemble Campbell's.  That fact, in and of itself, doesn't make them good or bad--but it is noteworthy.  

Tod asked above if the badge glows under black light?  Given that it does not look like the one known good example and even if it is inflorescent, I would still hazard to say that no one could definitively say they are good or bad.  I do think most collectors would be highly suspect of these if found out on the loose.  I would.  Contrastingly, if they came as part of a well documented group, they might be considered candidates to be good badges.

The final thing I note about the badges in question at the top of the thread and perhaps the most concerning; the Aeronaut badge (with star) appears uniformly brown as though it has been soaked in tea.  Note that the embroidery thread and the stiffening cloth are the same color.  I would expect that even if the front facing threads became soiled over time the stiffening material would still remain relatively white where it was protected. The uniform brown color is an additional negative factor.




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1 hour ago, cwnorma said:

Given that it does not look like the one known good example. . .


Chris, one small correction.  It's not the one known good example of a first type (silk) Aeronaut badge. A second example is posted on Bob Schwartz's Aviation Wings and Badges of the World Wars website.  See below. 


1917 balloon face.jpg




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Fantastic badge!  Also very instructive to this conversation.  As your's compares very favorably to Duncan's.  Thanks for sharing!

p.s. its nice to have you back, even if only occasionally!



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