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Weekly Wings of WWI (TV Allen edition)


pfrost
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Not that I can even do a tiny bit as well as Chris had done, I thought I would add something to the WWWIW threads.

T.V. Allen Co., the prominent Los Angeles jewelers and stationers, was founded in 1912. This company made fine paper, printed items, school rings and sports medals. Special printing jobs were featured during the 1932 Olympics, and for years, T.V. Allen Co. made the Academy Award envelopes!  Initially, they were located in downtown Los Angeles at 723 7th St (1912 to circa 1916) then they moved to Hill Street between 8th and 9th St (circa 1919), then to 815 Maple Ave (circa1920’s).  These dates are rather broad and are based on the dates from various advertisements that I found during my research. They were still in business through WWII and into the 1950’s. They were very active in producing fraternity/college-related jewelry and advertised in most of the local college and high school yearbooks, it seemed.  I don’t see that they were involved (at least directly) in making military insignia, but I do know that they likely had a die for both the WWI pilot AND observer wings. To date, I have seen only two TV Allen made badges.  If I had to guess, I would think that they may have made a special “one off” order for flight insignia for a USC graduate in 1918 or so (that is just a guess of course) but TV Allen frequently advertised in the USC yearbooks and school newspapers.

The wing itself is of the “Dallas” design.  The wing is cinched onto a metal (likely brass) cloth covered backing plate using small silver prongs.  The wing is of one-piece construction and highly vaulted and finely feathered. The pin is attached to the backing plate and is covered with a fine black/dark blue fabric.  The dimensions of this wing are rather long, so it gives the overall badge an elongated and rather “aerodynamic” effect. The hallmark is simply the name of the maker “TV Allen”.

The only other TV Allen wing I have seen was in another collection.  The pilot wing is also a one-piece construction, without the backing plate. The feathering pattern and shape of the badges aren’t that similar.  The pilot badge is a bit more delicate in design and has had the pales of the shield cut out.  However, both badges are very handsome.

TVAllen1.jpg

TVAllen3.jpg

TVAllen1a.jpg

TVAllen2.jpg

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TV Allen advertised rather heavily in Southern California.  They made (or at least sold) trophies, fraternity jewelry, school rings, and fine paper work.  What is interesting is this photo of an engraver working at the TV Allen shop.  He is apparently making the plates for engraving cards or stationary, but one can imagine how an engraver would be working on the dies for a pilot wing. 

TVAllen Advert.jpeg

TVAllenHallmark.jpg

TVAllenWorkshop.jpg

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blind pew

Cool-

Only two full size pilot's wings? Wow- I guess the chance of running across one is pretty much zero. Thanks for posting- the wing looks in detail comparable to a Haltom or Shreve. Did the full size wing look like the observer as well?

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Patrick,

  1. What an excellent addition to the Weekly WW1 wing posts!
  2. Thank you very much for the week off!

Here is a little bit on Airfields that might be associated with T.V. Allen wings:

Ross_Field_-_California.jpg.a0a97284a94bf2f4a92d162a50a3be58.jpg

Ross Field, Arcadia.  The diagonal street near the top is Huntington Drive.

Ross Field.  I have often wondered about the fabulously rare T.V. Allen wings and wondered if there wasn't some association with that firm and the Air Service Balloon School at Ross Field in Arcadia.  So few T.V. Allen wings are known so as to make it difficult to come up with any strong theory to confirm or refute as to what airfields and which airmen would have worn them.  Ross Field was stood up on the grounds of what is today the Santa Anita Golf Course in Arcadia California.  During its brief wartime existence, over 200 Air Service Observers took their training at Ross Field.  TV Allen was about 15 miles from Arcadia in Los Angeles.  

Marchfield-3-1932.jpg.a010fdf0e60d4ca8af334b23e668083f.jpg

March Field -- Approximately 1930.  Showing the Field's distinctive chevron shape.  Many WW1 era airfields had distinctive shapes to make them easily distinguishable from the air

March Field.  The Air Service training field in Riverside is another possible field that may be associated with T.V. Allen.  About 50 miles from Los Angeles, March Field Airman may have gone down into Los Angeles as the closest "Big City."  By 1917-1918, Hollywood was well on its way to becoming; "The Film Capitol of the World."  Airmen training at Ross Field would no doubt have gone down into the big city to hob-nob with celebrities.

Aviation General Supply Depot, Los Angeles.  Another large Army Air Service activity that can at least be geographically associated with the Los Angeles area was the Aviation General Supply Depot. T.V. Allen could also have found young aviators stationed at the depot among their customers for wings.

San Diego and Sacramento Fields.  Airmen from Mather Field, Rockwell Field, or any other California Air Service activities would also have flown to March Field for navigation training.  No doubt those young men would have wanted to visit Los Angeles in the hopes of meeting Errol Flynn, Mary Pickford or Elsie Janis!

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No, the pilot wing was slightly different. Sadly I promised the person who owns the pilot wing that I wouldn't post its photo on the forum.

 

And I have only seen 1 pilot wing and 1 observer wing.

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  • 9 months later...
cwnorma

Marty I'm sure is aware, but for those readers who may not be, many of the illustrations on that particular "website" are pure fantasies created (often quite poorly 🤔) using photo-editing software.

 

I have never understood why any author would want to create a "reference" that contains manipulated information... But here we are.

 

Chris

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I’ll have to double check but I don’t think that’s the TV Allan pilot wing

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Patrick,  

I missed seeing this interesting thread back when you first posted it in May of 2020. Never the less. . . it is delightful, very

informative read about a lesser known jeweler I had never heard of and the two beautiful WW1 observer (and pilot) wings

attributed to them.

Thank you for do it.  😉

cp

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5thwingmarty

Actually I didn't know anything about that site.  I'm glad to learn it is on par with at least one of the reference books out there about wings.  I am curious if the supposed T.V. Allen wing shown is real or not since the one shown is unique and there are no other examples available to compare to.

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cwnorma

All,

 

The wing labeled  "TV Allen" on germandaggers.com is a photo-manipulation using as its base Patrick's photo of his Observer wing (with the left wing "mirrored" [again photoshop] most likely copied from photos Patrick graciously posted here on USMF) and mated with photos of a William Link type shield.  The actual TV Allen RMA has a larger, more square shield.

 

The "N.S. Meyer" "observer" badge on the same page is also a photo-manipulation.  This time A keen eye will also observe that this illustration uses the "O" from Patrick's photos of his TV Allen badge this time mated to an N. S. Meyer wing!  There are many more examples.

 

By my count, at least 17 of the WW1 wing illustrations on that page are photo manipulations.  Others may be as well, but maybe are less obvious. Some are configurations that never existed such as Military Aviator "Dallas" wings with an integral star, some are "Frankenstein's monsters" mating (for example) a Johnson wing, with a Dan Dunham "O."

 

All in all, in my humble opinion, the best use for that particular "reference" is to showcase the author's photo-manipulation skills.

 

Chris

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2 hours ago, cwnorma said:

The wing labeled  "TV Allen" on germandaggers.com is a photo-manipulation using as its base Patrick's photo of his Observer wing (with the left wing "mirrored" [again photoshop] most likely copied from photos Patrick graciously posted here on USMF) and mated with photos of a William Link type shield.  The actual TV Allen RMA has a larger, more square shield.

The "N.S. Meyer" "observer" badge on the same page is also a photo-manipulation.  This time A keen eye will also observe that this illustration uses the "O" from Patrick's photos of his TV Allen badge this time mated to an N. S. Meyer wing!  There are many more examples.

By my count, at least 17 of the WW1 wing illustrations on that page are photo manipulations.  Others may be as well, but maybe are less obvious. Some are configurations that never existed such as Military Aviator "Dallas" wings with an integral star, some are "Frankenstein's monsters" mating (for example) a Johnson wing, with a Dan Dunham "O."

All in all, in my humble opinion, the best use for that particular "reference" is to showcase the author's photo-manipulation skills.

 

Chris, thank you for pointing out just how flawed that "reference" on the germandaggers.com website truly is.    

 

Also in your post, you mentioned that an actual T. V. Allen Company RMA badge had a large square shield.  Several years ago someone sent me a photo of a WW1 RMA badge made by an unknown firm.  I've posted it and would like to know if it may have been made by T. V. Allen. 

 

Cliff

 

 

xxxRevised copy.jpg

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cwnorma

Cliff,

 

The badge in your photo matches the one badge attributed to TV Allen I have examined.  I wish I owned such a badge to share here.

 

Note too, looking closely, although the wings on the RMA badge are repousse' vaulted into what appears to be a archer's bow shape, the die work (feather count, feathering, shoulder down, etc) compares favorably with Patrick's wonderful 2nd type observer.

 

It is my opinion that the badge in the photo in post #12 is the product of TV Allen.

 

Warm regards.

 

Chris

 

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I.m a bit more sanguine concerning that site, it doesn't really bother me one way or the other.  I don't use it for anything as it offers little useful information, and it certainly pales in regards to Bob's wonderful site.  Bob's site is easily the best reference site that there is (especially or WWI wing badges) available, hands down.  Using the searching function on this forum is also the best reference you can have.  WIth Bob's work and the forum, you can hardly go wrong.... Despite all the attempts I make to muddle the waters and confuse the issues... LOL

 

As for the wing that Cliff showed, that is, in fact the one I saw (or at least its twin).  It is in a very nice collection owned by a very nice collector who is one of the "kings" of the wing collecting community.

 

I had the opportunity to put my observer wing and his pilot wing side by side.  There are significant differences (so its not just a case of the observer wing having used only half of the pilot wing) such that without the hallmarks, it would be reasonable to assume they came from different sources.  The pilot wing is rather long and a bit more delicate that the observer wing. The pilot wing is nicely vaulted (like a bow), is pin backed (I don't recall what the catch looked like), and the pales on the shield are cut out. (and the shield is oversized).  IIRC, the wing doesn't look like it would have been well suited for a backing (because of the vaulting), but one does wonder if it was intended to have a small black backing for behind the shield.  As for research, the "king" did some research about the company, found the old address of TV Allen in Los Angeles, but nothing more (i.e. no records or old dies or old stock).  We talked and kind of agree that these badges may have been either one-off/small batch order or perhaps a prototype or model piece.  Depending on if the pilot wing mentioned by Cliff, Chris and myself are all the same badge, then to my knowledge there are only TWO (a pilot and an observer) made by TV Allen in existence!

 

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5thwingmarty

Well I stumbled when I posted the link, but at least it led to an image of an actual TV Allen wing being added to the thread.  Thanks to Cliff and Chris for all their contributions.

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2 hours ago, pfrost said:

As for the wing that Cliff showed, that is, in fact the one I saw (or at least its twin).  It is in a very nice collection owned by a very nice collector who is one of the "kings" of the wing collecting community.

 

I had the opportunity to put my observer wing and his pilot wing side by side.  There are significant differences (so its not just a case of the observer wing having used only half of the pilot wing) such that without the hallmarks, it would be reasonable to assume they came from different sources.  The pilot wing is rather long and a bit more delicate that the observer wing. The pilot wing is nicely vaulted (like a bow), is pin backed (I don't recall what the catch looked like), and the pales on the shield are cut out. (and the shield is oversized).  IIRC, the wing doesn't look like it would have been well suited for a backing (because of the vaulting), but one does wonder if it was intended to have a small black backing for behind the shield.  As for research, the "king" did some research about the company, found the old address of TV Allen in Los Angeles, but nothing more (i.e. no records or old dies or old stock).  We talked and kind of agree that these badges may have been either one-off/small batch order or perhaps a prototype or model piece.  Depending on if the pilot wing mentioned by Cliff, Chris and myself are all the same badge, then to my knowledge there are only TWO (a pilot and an observer) made by TV Allen in existence!

 

 

Patrick, I was Don Chalif's stockbroker for several years before retiring in 2003.  Don wrote the book Military Pilot and Aircrew Badges of the World (1870-Present): Vol. 1, Europe (Albania-Hungary) published in 1982. Don was also working on a book about U. S. Army WW1 wing badges and sent a copy of the manuscript to me for review.  He eventually lost interest in the book and it was never published; however, a photo of the same observer wing seen in your post #1 was to be included in Don's book with a description which reads as follows:

 

USA-9-T-2, The oblong silver metal letter "O" is very flat and has been soldered to the wing. The reverse has a characteristic orange-blue color typical of lost wax castings. It is stamped on the reverse, The T. V. Allen Co., Los Angeles, Calif. The wing itself appears to be die struck and is mounted on a dark blue background.  This is were it gets interesting as Don continued to say. . . The half wing pattern is from the same die as USA-17-M-1, which is a biographical specimen (authenticated to a specific airman). USA-17-M-1 has a Gothic letter "O" and is also flat rather than convex. 

 

Until today it had been years since I looked at that old manuscript but the second T. V. Allen half-wing Don mentioned (USA-17-M-1) was originally owned by Lt. Edward R. Nern, and the photo had been sent to Don by Duncan Campbell. It is also pictured in the Third Printing (released in 1991) of Duncan's book Aviation Badges and Insignia of the United States Army 1913-1946 on page 88, number #42A. The badge was later auction off in 2009 when Duncan's collection was liquidated by the executor of his estate (lot # 3650). 

 

I mentioned this only because there are at least three (3) T. V. Allen wing badges known to exist. . . and maybe a few more.

 

 

Lot 3650 belonged to Lt. Edward R. Nern.jpg

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cwnorma

Gadzooks!

 

This thread is getting curioser and curioser!  

 

Could Cliff have just solved the mystery of the below badges maker?

 

971949538_1921OBSobv.png.950789ad7af3712aef2652a80afaf144.png 

 

1095908657_SterlingObs.jpg.9e3ead0b5bfbc6a2fce1f8bf1b05574d.jpg

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There are some similarities but major difference.  My wing and the ones that Chris shows have a sort of ping pong paddle wing in the shoulder.  I cannot see if the 1919 Observer wing with the US has a similar set of winglets, but id does kind of look similar.

 

Other diffeneces to the one mentioned by Don Chalif is that I think mine only says TV Allen and the "O" is integral to the piece (not soldered on).

 

but my wing has 3 layers of ping pong paddles and two layers of larger wings vanes.

 

It is possible that the one I have was the one that Don Chalif had.  Mine came off of ebay.  I'm not going to qibble if it is 2 or 3... or even 4.  At some point, you are just trying to count the number of angels dancing on the head of pin.

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When it showed up on ebay, I was the only serious bidder.  I had recalled reading some where in one of the books or forums that TV Allen was a WWI wing manufacturer.  But for some reason, I can't find that reference anymore.  It could have been in Duncan's book or one of Russ Huff's wings and things periodicals that he was sending out in the mid 90's.  It could have even been Charles Fitsimmons book (which I misplaced years ago).

 

In any case, I got it and at the end of the auction, I was contacted by the only other person I knew who had a TV Allen wing.  At least I didn't know it at the time, but he told me he had the pilot wing, but had talked himself out of bidding on the wing.  A classic time of "overthinking" and was worried that it was a cast wing.  Sometimes you can be TOO wary of a thing, and if you are just looking for problems, you will find them.  We had a great wing ding a bit after that with some of the other local So Cal collectors. We all took turns tire kicking each other's collections, lusting after the gems, and scoffing about the items pulled out of the "box of tears" to brandish at each other.  We also drank a fair amount of adult beverages which probably resulted in a few poorly considered trades and purchases.  But fun was had by all.

 

This in no way means I am a smart collector, I just made sure that there was a return policy and kept to my budget.  Sometimes its better to be lucky than smart.

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rathbonemuseum.com

Here is the catalog photo of the wing from the Duncan Campbell auction that Cliff referred to

D122C0DD-2C30-4ADD-88EC-C8F5BD60C269.jpeg

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5thwingmarty

I don't believe TV Allen was the maker of the wings Chris showed in Post 17.  In a discussion about a photo of a general wearing one of these during WWII, it was shared which school several attributed examples of these wings were associated with, and that school is no where near California.  I don't know if the info was meant for general dissemination so I am not going to share it.  In any event, there were many other possible sources of these wings from higher volume producers in much closer proximity. 

 

Here are photos of a different "wing" from TV Allen to add to the record.

 

 

TV Allen Bendix wing front.jpg

TV Allen Bendix wing rear.jpg

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Pulled my wing out of its box and checked the hallmark.  It says:

 

TV Allen & Co

Los Angeles California

 

in very small font letters in the area between the "O" and the wing, and then on another location, there is a very small "STERLING" mark.

The O and the wing appear to be of one piece.  The wing (at the shoulder) is very STRONGLY vaulted, standing up in a strong 3D profile. This is due to a force under that part of the shoulder.  Overall the thickness of the planchette is even and relatively thin across the whole badge.  In profile the shoulder kind of makes the wing look a bit like a snail!

 

While the wing posted by Chris has a similar set of small feathers in the shoulder (with a broad leaf shaped bit and strong vein) that kind of gives the image of a ping pong paddle, the number of feathers and the number of rows of feathers are different. But I am a super duper fan of that type of feathering.  Its sort of like the feathers in the shoulders of Haltom wing...sort of.

 

In the biographical wing presented by Cliff (and better picture provided by Tod), I think a whole different die was used (but I wouldnt disagree that it was likely made by TV Allen_.  The "Cliff/Duncan Campbell" wing is a very SIMILAR shape, but the number of small winglets are different (look at the third row).  In my badge there are 7-8 smaller wings in that third row, whilst in the other badge, there are 9-10 (its not totally clear to me from the picture). But I would agree that could be an optical illusion based on the photos.

 

So without better pictures, I would argue that the Cliff/Duncan biographical wing COULD have been made by TV Allen, but it isn't identical to the one I have.  I don't know that I would quibble too much that they both were made by the same firm--it depends on if you are lumper (putting like things together)  or splitter (finding differences to not put them together), but there is a lot to say that both are VERY similar.

 

That being said, it seems like their may be at least 2 observers, 1 pilot and one 1919 observer that are known....  I am sure more are out there, they just haven't come to light.

IMG_5297.jpg

IMG_5265.jpg

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cwnorma

Perhaps there is no relationship... But I have to note the striking similarity of the octagonal gothic O with the very-thin, centered US.  If nothing else, it opens up a whole new line of research.  More research is always needed.

 

At the very least, It appears as though TV Allen was a little more involved in the wing making trade than I originally surmised.

 

Thank you all for the lively discussion and sharing of ideas.  This is what I like best about this community!

 

Chris

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