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Validating only STERLING marked wings to WWII


akriener
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Was doing some reading and I'm a bit confused.

 

https://www.paratrooper.be/articles/jump-wings/ states:

There are 3 main types of fastening devices: the US-made pinback with rolling lock; the British made pinback; and finally the clutch back

When did the Army stop issuing the Sterling jump wings, and when did they stop issuing the silver plated wings?

Steve Curlee raised this very interesting question to me, and he came up with the answer too. I had been wondering about this myself, so I thought I’d share this information here.

From the Institute of Heraldry, he got this reply: “We have the Military Specification Sheet which is dated 25 September 1964 for the US Army Parachutist Badge. The material was Sterling Silver.

This means no Sterling silver wings were issued after 11 July 1968. Although there was some silver after the change on 10 February 1988, to say that they were silver plated is a stretch, but this does make it confusing to properly date jump wings marked ‘Sterling’.

The military specification sheet dated 11 July 1968: the material was changed to 1/20 Silver filled (Front Only) over a commercial copper base alloy for the non-subdued badges, and Red Brass was used for the subdued badges.

The US Army changed to clutch back in late 1944 for all wings, badges etc. However many manufacturers continued to make pin back until the start of the Vietnam era. The pin back badges were sold in Base and Post Exchanges as these are considered private sales and not government contract.

 

So it sounds like the 3 types of fastening devices listed above were WWII period.

And if the above is true, how the heck do you verify that a STERLING only marked pinback was period to WWII and not post WWII manufactured? It seems like you can't.

Sounds like maker marked is the only way to be sure, and if I am misunderstanding what was written please correct me.

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Persian Gulf Command

akriener,

  I'm sure that there will be other respected opinions and observations that will help you come to some conclusions regarding WW2 manufactured Paratrooper Badges.  Characteristics that would allow me to determine a set of wings are WW2 U.S. manufacture are the pin fastening device and a solid backing to the badge.  Note that the solid backing does not apply to British badges as they are hollow backed.   I also feel that manufactured hallmarks or names along with the two characteristic mentioned would be the best combination to allow you to know that the wings are WW2 manufacture.

 

Here are a couple examples to illustrate these characteristics on the back of Parachute badges, which I am sure are WW2 manufacture. 

P4270115.JPG

P9220055.JPG

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Thanks for sharing your pieces. I have read those details on the site I quoted. N.S. Meyer, Inc., New York is an example of an American manufacturer that made a hollow back variant so that adds to the challenge as well. Not sure if you saw this thread I posted yesterday, but here are a few examples I am looking at. Would love your input. https://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/342538-paratrooper-jump-wing-opinions/

 

This post however states: "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."

https://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/342382-marking-question/

 

 

If that's the case, then why even collect maker marked wings if they were private purchase items?

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Persian Gulf Command

I would answer your last question this way.  If you have a set of wings that has a pin fastener and is a solid back with out any markings on the reverse, it would be of WW2 period manufacture.  Perhaps you could feel more confident that they were actually issued to a Trooper when he finished Jump School.  However, your initial questions can still be answered by stating that a hallmarked, pin fastened, and solid backed set of wings would also be manufactured during the WW2 period.  If you wish to assume that a hallmarked wing was obtained (purchased) by the Trooper as a second set then the soldier would have still possessed these wings during his time of WW2 service.  I guess it all has to do with a certain amount of conjecture and personal collecting preference.

 

Regarding the hollow backed U.S. manufactured Paratrooper Badges I feel (just conjecture on my part) that they are late WW2 and perhaps may fall into your post-war yet still having pin fastening category.  

 

Hopefully others on the Forum will provide more lucidity to this interesting topic.

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I was thinking of reaching out to that Institute of Heraldry to see if they could provide any guidance. I went ahead and purchased this item based on advice in a different thread https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Sterling-Silver-Jump-Wing-US-Army-Paratrooper-Pin-WW2-initials/392782576433?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2649

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Persian Gulf Command

I saw your discussion regarding which set of wings to purchase.  The initialed Paratrooper Badge looks like a very fine WW2 manufactured example.  It has features that we have both mentioned and the initials are a nice personalization.  Obviously if there is conformation regarding un-marked Paratrooper Badges issued by the U.S. Army at the time of completing Jump School you have a nice addition to your collection.

Regards,  -  John

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I went ahead and emailed that Institute of Heraldry so I'll let you know what I hear back


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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