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Opportunity -WWI 1919- 1920s Pilot Wing Ebay

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I'm not sure why this wing has not sold yet because it is a beautiful example of a 1919 – early 20s pilot wing with the heavy solid silver construction and the Tiffany-esque design of the pin catch and massive findings with the spectacular pin. I guess nobody has seen this wing or don't know what it is but this is a scarce wing with excellent historical value as the number of pilots dropped precipitously in the 20s and these wings are rarer indeed. Here is the eBay item number, simply type it in and take a look at this most excellent example of early wing design during a time of diminishing numbers of pilots...

#193449445011

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Hi Mel,

The thing with this wing is that I am not convinced that it is actually pre-war.  The pin is massive and that is sometimes found on the earlier wings. However, there are a couple of other items that I look for in the earlier post WWI wings.  First, they usually (but not always) lack the small lines between the vertical ridges in the shield.  Later, WWII versions, tend to have these smaller, fine lines.  Also, early Adam designed wings are typically exactly 3 inches, while the later WWII versions are longer at about 3 1/8 inches or so.  The early wings are frequently silver plated brass, but not always.

Finally, the design of the feathering is a classic "slick" or Adam's style wing.  From the front, there is nothing much exciting about this wing that makes it stand out from the vast majority of other WWII vintage wings in this design.  So, other than the big pin, $170+ for this wing seems excessive.  No hallmark, not a unique pattern, probably not even earlier than the 40's...

But that is just my opinion -- watch as someone has proof that this is a super rare wing made by elves in Santa's workshop out of meteorite metal and worth 10X the amount because Ron Burkey is selling a similar wing for $1000!

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I kept my radar up over the years after I first encountered this wing over a decade plus ago, to attempt finding this wing in the context of a grouping named to a pilot because that's something I collect for, to preserve the names and units surrounding a wing. I have never found this wing in the context of a grouping so I kept with my original supposition that it was a 1920s wing. But, without these excellent counterpoints such as what Patrick has put forward, we would never challenge ourselves as to the veracity of our conclusions based upon characteristics indicative of a particular type of wings, such as the pin catch, pin, the weight, the smooth backing without maker's mark etc. Excellent counterpoints bro! Thank you for taking the time and giving me some excellent points to think about on this wing I had not given consideration to for a long time, THAT is the invaluable blessing of this forum.  

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My suspicion is that although this pattern wing appears to exactly match the Josten pattern, they were actually made by Robbins.  I don't think they were made by Josten as I also suspect their wings were made by Robbins.


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I have had two examples of this style wing in groupings. My assumption is that it's a graduation type pattern from between 1938 to 1941. Mel, I'm sure you recall the Charles W. Stark grouping, that has one of these wings included and he graduated in 1938 if I recall correctly.

 

If I didn't have a couple of these I'd definitely snag it under $200 but my concern with the wing on ebay is that the catch is so far forward like a roller catch when it should only go a fraction of that distance like a "tiffany style" or "yes Chris, BLANCARD" catch lol. You can see the channel where the lock original sat. This catch should actually lock in the down position farthest to the rear, pretty much the same position as when a roller catch is wide open. It's probably an easy fix for a really nice and rare wing!

 

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3 hours ago, mghcal said:

yes Chris, BLANCARD

I love it when a plan comes together! ?


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I have this same wing, identical in every way, even the short pin.

I have watched this wing on eBay and I must say, that I can’t believe it is still there for that price. Personally, I think it’s a good and very fair price for a gorgeous wing badge. The catch is a not often seen variation of the lever lock.

Regarding the the lines in the shield, I have never believed that to be a 100% WWII wing trait, no more than X’s in the Bullion Naval Aviator wing shield mean WWII either. Yes, lines in the shield are more generally seen in WWII, but it’s not iron clad.

I think sometimes collectors get  a little too focused on looking for silver bullets rather then looking at the big picture and miss out on some nice prospects in the process.

My two cents.

Stay safe all, John


...and on the eighth day, God created the radial engine...

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I agree John , this is a splendid and unique wing with characteristics aforementioned, which point to early post World War 1 perspective on the overall design and manufacturing of wings . I respect everybody's  considerations on wings, especially until we have it nailed down to a definite conclusion. 

This wing to me points to an earlier construction with the apparent characteristics of the transitional approach to the aesthetic & construction model of wings just after WWI. They landed like a big flop after the World War I wing complexity with multiple and interdependent contributing  pieces which came together with transcendent creativity arriving at the aesthetic gestalt envisaged. This WWI model, more indicative of earlier centuries' respect for their warriors and a desire to honor them with heraldic, marshall, handsome grace to the insignia, transitioned like a summer rose dying on the stem. There came a forced bland uniformity in the new design against which there was a great backlash. The wingmakers at this point seem to try nobly to bring out the glory of a solid oak than a rose.  

  The wings proposed at that time by so-called "artistic" authorities absolutely and unequivocally emphasized a uniformity stripped of creativity. The wingmakers did their best to give some sense of creative absistence (to stand apart from ex. "absistence" from the group) to the new wings and this included the massive pin and hinge, solid, heavy, masculine feel to the wings themselves, a touch of Elegance in the pin catch like the wing noted above, leftover from the World War I creations of Glory and Majesty. 

That transition period right after WWI with the precipitous decline in creativity produced the characteristics extant on this wing and I personally find those filled with exemplary attempts to give the wings a strength and masculine feel that a warrior would be proud to wear. It certainly stands apart from the wings of World War II in general with its flattered broader shield and a fletching configuration that hovers between smooth and crisply defined, with a perfect balance, and I love the undulating dip on the rear of the shield that gives it an extra dimension of complexity to the to the rear as a backdrop to that glorious giant pin and most elegant pin catch. 

Anyway, I have already said that it baffles me that the wing is still available at the price it is but I guess that's a matter of choice. I guarantee you I would have bought it if I didn't have one that I finally found after searching for a few years in the early days.

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One thing about our friend Mel Everingham, he is a mastered when it comes to drafting an almost poetical use of words.  Words meant to give us a deeper if not haunting philosophical understanding about what he saw when he first looked at that badge.  In other words, he saw details that some of us may have skipped over... if not ignored at first glance, but they spoke to him. 

John Ferguson is right too, it is what it is, a nice pre-great depression era badge that visibly shows it has been put through the paces during a long and hopefully productive existence.  If only it could talk.

 


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SOLD!

 

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Wow..... Just splendid....
Whoever was blessed to pick these up received an excellent stamping. What I really enjoyed about this particular wing is the fact that I would not clean it and I am a cleaner, because I love the glorious eminence of a cleaned wing. In this particular case though, there is a rare and objective balance presenting an aesthetic attraction inescapable to my eyes. 

The balance lies in the image disseminated a middle ground between to active factors. 

First I perceive the fingerprints of time's dark greys and browns revealing its patient and enduring attentions coupled with and quckened by the pilot's touch and possibly those who would await his return from the firmament, his beloved gazing in proud awe at the symbol of her man's dedication and strength of mind and body.... 

Then, burgeoning from behind this layer of history, the underlying radiance of the silver erupts with every opportunity to be known by sight; the underlying metal known as precious reveals why as it thrusts the light revealing its presence into the ether, rising from under the differing ocolluding densities of the ingredients coalescing into evidential appearance of time's passage and man's interaction with this tiny monument to the history our pilot's life was part of constructing.

Splendid Indeed
 

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If anyone still absolutely has to have an example of this wing, don't worry as Ron Burkey still has one listed.  Its just a little over $1000 more, and not in as good condition though.  He has also recently listed nice examples of Noble, Kinney and Robbins pilot wings if anyone has to have those.


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Just for historical record, here's the auction: 

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Only a weak society needs government protection or intervention before it pursues its resolve to preserve the truth. Truth needs neither handcuffs nor a badge for its vindication. -Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy

Peace is not the absence of war, but the defense of hard-won freedom. -Anton LaGuardia


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First, thanks to all who contributed to this discussion about a very interesting wing badge. The first time I saw this lever-style catch it was on a 13th Field Artillery distinctive unit insignia. In the mid-1990s I found my first unmarked wing badge with this same catch at the MAX show.  I showed it to the late J. Duncan Campbell at the old ASMIC show at Ft. Belvoir, VA. He said “You found it. This is the new wing adopted in 1919.”

 

Below is an image of a distinctive unit insignia of the 101st Medical Regiment, 26th Division, Massachusetts National Guard. The unit was reorganized on 21 March 1923 from the World War I era 101st Sanitary Train. It has the same lever-style catch and is marked in raised letters “ROBBINS CO / ATTLEBORO”. Obviously, it cannot date from before the unit was reorganized in 1923 but I believe it dates from the mid-1920s. The short pin is another characteristic of 1920s DIs. Pin back examples of the 101st Medical DI by Robbins are not uncommon but this is the only example with the lever-style catch that I have found. In several decades of looking, I have only seen this lever-style catch on the unmarked wings and on a handful of Robbins Co. DIs.

 

Jay

 

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Wow Jay!  Thank you so much for giving us a new link into the origin of this wing, giving time parameters based upon another piece of insignia with this very rare and unique pin catch. Robbins Co of Attleboro Massachusetts, interesting. Being the only company of verifiable credentials to use this catch other than the wing we know of is food for thought and further research.  Well done sir!

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These wings are extremely similar to Robbins wings, with the wing feather details being almost indistinguishable.  The shields are close in dimensions but the vertical stripe pattern is reversed between the two (Robbins recessed center stripe, unmarked wing raised center stripe).  I believe the official wing design called for the center stripe to be the raised one and have wondered if these unmarked wings were a later version made by Robbins to match the official design. 

 

I am also curious what metal these unmarked wings are made of.  The original designs called for the wings to be made of "fine" silver, not sterling.


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