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Marking - question

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Hi all,   I've probably asked, but I can't find it.   I read somewhere that some WWII wings dont have a manufacturer's marking due to competition. That they were not allowed to put company marking on badges. Is it true? Some wings that do not have the manufacturer's marking can be from the same company as wings  with the logo?  If that's true - could anyone write me more? When was it introduced and why? Collectors prefer to collect wings with a lmarking - are those without a marking "worse" or just don't have a marking but were made by the same quality company?

 

 

thank you very much

 

Lubos


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Wings manufactured under government contract, i.e. badges awarded by the army to personnel upon graduation from courses for air crew, parachute infantry, etc., were required to carry no maker mark. Identical wings with maker marks were privately purchased.

 

I suppose the relative appeal of maker marked wings is the surety of the badge’s pedigree the hallmark provides. Also, different hallmarks for the same maker can point towards a timescale for their manufacture (AE Co. and Amico spring to mind). Early marks will bring higher prices in the main.

 

For other wings - such as Orber - a fully hallmarked wing is a rarity and again imposes a premium, not to mention the caché of certain ‘brands’. A case in point is the ‘3rd pattern’ Luxenberg Pilot wing, which is essentially an AE Co. wing with a Lux hallmark. The Lux version will probably set you back at least double the amount the same wing with AE stamped on it will.

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Someplace on this forum are some of the original government drawings and specs for a number of types of insignia.  Those specs specifically outline the metal content (sterling silver) and the lack of a makers mark.  However, I am not exactly clear on how strongly those specific parameters were actually adhered too.  For example, almost everything produced for the US Military had the maker's name on it someplace --think holsters, weapons, uniforms, web gear, canteens.  So why would insignia be any different?  other example are DUIs.  They also show up in hallmarked and unhallmarked versions. Also, with the huge supply chains that were activated once the war started, one has to wonder how closely these "rules" were being applied.

Another thing is that many companies were just retail suppliers and didn't actually physically have a plant making these items with their names on it.  Its not like Luxenberg had a basement tool shop that was making wings.  Lots of stuff were probably bought from wholesale manufacturers (like Lux buying from AECo or Blackinton). 

As collectors, it means a lot to us what hallmark is on the insigina, but at the time, I suspect if you were to even point that out, people would look at you like you were crazy (although Americans and especially American GIs have a well deserved reputation of "souvenir collecting"). Someone once said that the French fight for the Republic, the British fight for the King, the Germans because they like to fight and the Americans  fight for souvenirs.

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So if government guidelines stated that wings were to be produced with no makers mark, why even collect marked ones? Doesn't that add a level of uncertainty to if they were actually trooper issued vs marked ones being private purchase? I posted a topic earlier about identifying only STERLING marked wings and it has information I learned from paratrooper.be. It talks about how the army officially switched to clutch back wings in 1944 and moved away from Sterling silver sometime in 1968, but also that some manufacturers continued to produce pinback STERLING marked up until that point.

 

And also an outstanding question if STERLING only marked, hollowback wings fall into that post 1944 window or were issued prior to that as well. There are some maker marked hollow pinback examples but that falls into the private purchase category.

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There are hollowback sterling only marked wings that are not post 1944.  Wings by Bell, Smilo and LeVelle are hollowback examples seen mostly only marked sterling.


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28 minutes ago, 5thwingmarty said:

There are hollowback sterling only marked wings that are not post 1944.  Wings by Bell, Smilo and LeVelle are hollowback examples seen mostly only marked sterling.

True, but they would then fall under the "private purchase" category unless there was a lack of enforcement once the war effort ramped up.

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Well, how would you know those manufacturers made those if they were only marked STERLING?

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I'm not aware of any 2" or 3" Bell wings that have a Bell company hallmark, only either a sterling or coin silver mark.  They have been identified by wings (sweetheart/cap, 2" and 3" sizes) found on original sales cards from Bell, and Bell hallmarked sweetheart/cap sized wings.

 

There are known examples of LeVelle-hallmarked wings, and wings in the same patterns have been attributed to LeVelle.

 

I am not sure if there are any wings bearing a Smilo hallmark, but like Bell wings examples can be found on original sales cards from Smilo.

 

Other companies that made both hallmarked and non-hallmarked versions of hollowback wings are Orber and AECo.


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I forgot you said you don't collect paratrooper wings

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10 hours ago, akriener said:

True, but they would then fall under the "private purchase" category unless there was a lack of enforcement once the war effort ramped up.

 

Yea I doubt anyone cared what make, brand or stamped or unstamped wings someone was wearing on their dress uniform.

Im guessing a whole lot of useless eyewash regulations went by the wayside during ww2 ?

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We know for a fact that some maker marked wings were issued during WWII. I'll use my knowledge of parachute badges to validate my point. It is well known to most any wing collector that the original parachute wing was designed by then Captain Yarborough and that they were made by the Bailey, Banks and Biddle jewelers in Philadelphia, PA. BB&B maker marked wings exist and have been found in the hands of the veterans of the early parachute battalions.

 

When the First Special Service Force went through their parachute training, they received wings that were manufactured by American Emblem and these wings are AE Co marked. Additionally, I have known several glider pilots with various maker marked wings in their possession.

 

The regulations, alluded to previously, stating that maker's logos could not be on wings made for issue came out in 1943 if I remember correctly, this change came at the same time as the wing transitioned from a pin fastener to clutch prongs. Obviously, the military would use existing stocks until exhausted, so even after 1943, maker marked wings were still being issued.

 

Allan


Never under-estimate the power of prayer.

 

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That's very insightful, thanks for sharing that. Do you have any information regarding solid back vs hollow back being issued or private purchase/post war versions?


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5 hours ago, akriener said:

That's very insightful, thanks for sharing that. Do you have any information regarding solid back vs hollow back being issued or private purchase/post war versions?
 

The method by which the wings were manufactured as well as the types of dies used would determine whether a wing was solid of hollow backed. I would ASSUME that hollow backed wings would weigh less than the solid back, so there would be a small savings in using less material with a hollow wing. While sterling silver wasn't overly expensive during WWII (coinage was made from it after all) it would still have enough value that after knocking out a few thousand wings, there would be a handsome cost savings.

 

I have always equated the solid backed wings with being earlier, but I only have antidotal evidence to support that thought.

 

WWII manufactured parachute badges were still being issued in the late 1960s at the Airborne School at FT Benning. Just like Purple Heart medals, the government bought tons.

 

Allan


Never under-estimate the power of prayer.

 

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