Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
cwnorma

World War One Weekly Wing #22

Recommended Posts

World War One

Weekly Wing #22

 

Maker: Robbins Co. Attleboro MA

 

1290992637_RobbinsFactory.jpg.da7f21cddef080dde20dadc6772c492b.jpg

 

Background

 

During the World War One era, the Robbins Co of Attleboro, MA was a major manufacturer of wing badges.  Robbins is known to have sold three distinct US Air Service wing badges each with its own unique die and at least two sizes of Naval Aviator badge.

 

The first, most popular and evidently most common Army Air Service type Robbins badge is the large Reserve Military Aviator wing with pointed shield and lower feathers that recurve back toward the center of the badge.  These large-type Robbins badges are occasionally seen with some of the lower-most central feathers neatly removed with a jewelers saw.  The large-type Robbins is also rarely encountered configured as an Observer’s half wing—with the left wing carefully removed with a jewelers saw:  

 

472557348_ScreenShot2017-08-07at6_49_10PM.png.c9b62f64a01f358d3b214215d71f4044.png

 

Die struck then hand-modified is a common characteristic of Robbins made badges.  The large-type badge appears to have borrowed most of its design elements from a series of hand made badges previously reviewed in WWOWW #11:

World War One Weekly Wing #11

 

The subject of this week’s World War One Weekly Wing, is the somewhat less common second type.  Whether its scarcity is due to lower popularity of the design with aviators or merely a factor of lower production is a question that requires additional research.  This smaller Robbins badge is a full-sized, regulation three-inch badge--distinctive but generally close in design to several similar badges made by the I Scheuer Co/N.S. Meyer Co of New York, NY,  William Link Co of Newark, NJ and a few other firms:

 

The third badge manufactured by Robbins is far scarcer than the other two and has a widely flared shield.  Unlike the first two Robbins badges which are clearly derivative of other WW1 era badges, the unique and distinctive third-type appears to have been wholly Robbins' design.

 

1435301439_JPEGimage-C70451CF074A-1.jpeg.183af02a4031d92c0d96d83280174825.jpeg

Top; first (Large) type.  Middle; second (small) type. Bottom; third type.

 

Robbins also produced large and small versions of the Naval Aviator badge during WW1.

 

1975543056_JPEGimage-BC0A7C1E0DDC-1.jpeg.846adb396b20ad001c9aa7fd2b0862b7.jpeg

Robbins Naval Aviator Badge

 

Just before the turn of the Century in 1892, Charles May Robbins established an eponymous jewelry manufacturing firm in Attleboro, Massachusetts.  A savvy businessman, Robbins was successful enough that he was able to retire from the firm he founded by 1907.  With Robbins’ retirement, the Charles May Robbins Company changed its name to the Robbins Company.  The new owners decided to take Robbins national and besides the home office in Attleboro, Robbins’ Nest retail jewelry stores sprung up in several large northeastern cities such as New York and St Louis.  Robbins Co, like competing firms such as Bailey Banks and Biddle and Eisenstadt, was one of the few jewelry manufacturers of the WW1 era who could rightfully boast of commanding an interstate reach.  Charles May Robbins’ firm still exists as part of the TharpeRobbins Co and remains a manufacturer of Jewelry in Attleboro.

 

Nationally, the United States in 1917 was gearing up for the war raging in Europe.  The Robbins Co apparently saw a burgeoning market for military and naval insignia.  45 miles away in Boston, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, thousands of Army, Navy, and Marine Aviators took their initial aviation training.  Through their Robbins Nest outlets, in New York and St Louis, Robbins had access to fledgling aviators at Hazlehurst/Roosevelt Field and Scott Field respectively.  As previously noted, Robbins manufactured at least three distinct Air Service Reserve Military Aviator badges and a Naval Aviator badge.

 

Associated Airfields:

Scott Field, Belleville, IL and Hazlehurst/Lufberry/Roosevelt Field, Long Island, NY.

 

1275793666_JPEGimage-59B581B67EA2-1.jpeg.a4756e0ef8731c58ab256f6ce530b90d.jpeg

WWOWW #22 -- Small type Robbins

 

Description

 

Manufacture. Die struck from a single sterling silver billet, after striking the badge is additionally hand bright-cut with a engraver’s onglet at the high points of the feathers and around the perimeter of the shield to add increased sparkle.  Most badges produced by Robbins show similar manufacturing techniques: Die struck and additional bright-cuts to add highlights.

 

The shield like other similar badges is quite square.  The chief contains 13 small neatly spaced five pointed stars in relief.  Each star is additionally bright cut to add sparkle. The field portion consists of thirteen vertical stripes, six raised and seven depressed. The line separating the chief and field portions is also bright cut.

 

The letters U and S are die struck, separately applied,14 karat gold.  Each letter is also beveled and bright cut to increase sparkle.

 

Mountings. A Blancard (so-called Tiffany) clasp and pin-back with cam which only allows the pin to open about 85 degrees.

 

Hallmarks.  The badge exhibits early Robbins’ faux British-style hallmarks consisting of three cartouches; “R, Arm holding mace, and robin.”  Content mark; “STERLING.”

 

As always, while I don't mind a monologue, I'd love to see your examples of Robbins manufactured badges!

 

Cheers!

 

Chris

 

 

 


767409605_sigcustom3.png.e95257302e2a500ba241cd8cdc44ff0c.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chris, finally a WWOWW post I can contribute wings to.  Here are photos of my Robbins second type wing.  Russ pointed this wing out to me when it was being offered so hopefully it is a good one.  Mine does not have the Blanchard catch, and the pin, although cammed opens a full 180 degrees.  It is my understanding it was bought as a gift for the girlfriend of the pilot and her grandchildren were the ones who sold it.  Marty

 

Robbins front_resize.JPG

Robbins front angle_resize.JPG

Robbins rear_resize.JPG

Robbins hallmark_resize.JPG


donation2013.gifdonation2015.gifdonation2016.gif

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Marty,

 

Super nice wing!  Your photos are expressly good at illustrating the Robbins' habit of die striking the badge then adding additional embellishment through bright cuts.  

 

Notice on your's how the rachis of each feather is cut, the borders and centerline of the shield are cut, the table of each star is cut, and the gold US is beveled.  When new, this badge would really have sparkled in the sun!

 

Thank you for sharing!

 

Chris


767409605_sigcustom3.png.e95257302e2a500ba241cd8cdc44ff0c.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another professionally prepared thread posted above!  Thank you Chris for all you have generously shared with us!

 

Each one modestly different than the other three, I believe all four of the Pilot badges posted below are period-made by The Robbins Company.  The top two examples are both hallmarked and "Sterling" marked in similar fashion, however one is pierced between the wings and the shield, while the other badge is solid... and the size of the hallmark and sterling-mark font is slightly different.

 

The third badge has no hallmark, but is "Sterling" marked... while the fourth badge is unmarked on the reverse and likely only plated or silver-washed... 

 

WWI Robbins B (2).jpgWWI Robbins F.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WWI Robbins A.jpgWWI Robbins E.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


post-2-0-10415400-1477335312.jpg



donation2015.gifdonation2016.gifdonation2018.gifdonation2019.gifdonation2020.gif


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Russ,

 

Really beautiful Robbins wings!  Your four examples of the first-type (large) Robbins wings neatly illustrate how Robbins, despite being a large manufacturer, hand finished each and every badge. I'm sure they gave it scarce thought at the time, but what a prize for us collectors 100 years later.  Even though all Robbins badges of a given type are struck from the same die, each will have slight variation due to their hand embellished nature.

 

As your photos so wonderfully show; a collector could have any number of Robbins made wings and each one is likely to exhibit subtle expressions of the individual jewelry artists who finished each piece.

 

Thanks again for adding such wonderful examples to this discussion.

 

Chris   


767409605_sigcustom3.png.e95257302e2a500ba241cd8cdc44ff0c.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In his book, Duncan Campbell did not attribute the first (large) pattern wing to Robbins.  Later, Terry Morris wrote that the pattern might have been a product of the J.R. Gaunt Company.  Of course we now know these badges were made by Robbins.  As Russ' fine examples show, Robbins did not always mark their products.  Was the confusion because Robbins used faux-British style hallmarks (both authors possibly not knowing, at the time their books were written, that the marks indicated Robbins)?  Terry sometimes participates here on the forum; I wonder if he would be willing to illuminate his thinking of the time?

 

Is it possible Robbins manufactured some for J.R. Gaunt to sell from their retail operation in New York?  Has anyone seen a first (large) pattern Robbins wing marked to the firm of J.R. Gaunt?

 

Chris

 

 


767409605_sigcustom3.png.e95257302e2a500ba241cd8cdc44ff0c.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks again for another informative thread. 

 

BTW- how many examples of the third type of Robbins wing have you seen? I have not seen such a wing posted anywhere. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, blind pew said:

BTW- how many examples of the third type of Robbins wing have you seen? I have not seen such a wing posted anywhere. 

Blind Pew,

 

I have had the pleasure of examining exactly three.  I do not own one in my collection.  I know of two sales (although its possible that one or two of the three I have seen with my own eyes actually included one or both of these) Duncan Campbell had one and it sold at the auction of his collection and Norm Flayderman had one.  So I can only account for the existence of five (possibly only three).

 

It's a really good question for the forum members; How many third-type Robbins have you seen?

 

Chris


767409605_sigcustom3.png.e95257302e2a500ba241cd8cdc44ff0c.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a third type Robbins wing on Bob's ww2wings.com website, noted as belonging to Cliff Presley.  Is the one you shared a photo of from Duncan's sale?


donation2013.gifdonation2015.gifdonation2016.gif

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have only seen and handled one, and I don't think it was one of the other two talked about.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, 5thwingmarty said:

Is the one you shared a photo of from Duncan's sale?

Marty,

Yes it is.

 

Chris


767409605_sigcustom3.png.e95257302e2a500ba241cd8cdc44ff0c.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.