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World War One Weekly Wing #23

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World War One

Weekly Wing #23

Large-Type Robbins

 

Maker: Robbins Co. Attleboro MA

 

Background

 

As we noted in WWOWW #22, The Robbins Co of Attleboro, MA was a prolific manufacturer of wing badges. Both Army Air Service and Naval Air Service:

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Some photos sourced from the internet. Fair use for educational purposes is claimed.

 

The first type, and the subject of this week’s WWOWW is the first or large-type Robbins Army Air Service wing with pointed shield and lower feathers that recurve back toward the center of the badge:

 

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WWOWW #23 -- Large (Type 1) Robbins

 

Multiple period photographs of young Aviators wearing these wings and the number in collections today attest to their original popularity.  Available as a first type observer half wing with the left wing removed, these large-type Robbins badges are also occasionally encountered with portions of the lower-most feathers neatly removed to create unique variations of the badge.  It may be confidently said that after the various Dallas-type wings, the first or large-type Robbins badge was evidently the second most popular type of WW1 era sterling silver badge.

 

As it may also be said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  In this respect Robbins must have had great admiration for other artisans, as the company clearly borrowed design elements from the works of other firms.  It is not known who originated the design of the I Scheuer Co/N.S. Meyer Co of New York, NY,  and William Link Co of Newark, NJ badges, but Robbins directly competed with those firms with a version of that badge (WWOWW #22) of their own.  Similarly, with respect to this week’s badge, Robbins appears to have borrowed design elements from a series of popular hand-made badges made by an unknown jeweler (WWOWW #11):

 

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Some photos sourced from the internet. Fair use for educational purposes is claimed.

 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and badges made by Robbins, even those that borrow heavily from designs of other firms, are indeed handsome, extremely well executed badges.  Their overall popularity, both with young aviators of 1918 and collectors today attests to Robbins’ ability to improve upon already appealing designs.

 

Associated Airfields:

 

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

 

Description

 

Manufacture. Die struck, in semi-cliche’ form from a single sterling silver billet.  Some badges appear to have been struck with a slightly thicker planchet.  To add additional sparkle, Robbins badges are almost always additionally hand bright-cut with an engraver’s onglet—each star, at tips of every feather, and around the perimeter of the shield.  Often, although not always, the rachis of the feathers are bright cut.  Finally, each feather is finished by hammering with a texturing tool.  On some badges the voids between the wings and the shield are not cut out.

 

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Some photos sourced from the internet. Fair use for educational purposes is claimed.

 

The shield like similarly designed jeweler hand-made badges is very pointed and almost heart-shaped.  Its chief contains 13 neatly spaced, recessed five pointed stars.  Each star is additionally bright cut to add sparkle. The field portion consists of thirteen vertical stripes, six raised and seven depressed. Fine texturing lines may be encountered to either the raised or recessed stripes.  The line separating the chief and field portions, like the perimeter of the shield, is also bright cut.

 

There are two sizes of letters U and S; large and small.  Both types are; die struck, separately applied, and usually 10 or 14 karat gold.  The U and S are frequently, but not always, beveled and bright cut to add sparkle.  Occasionally, the table of the US is further textured to add visual interest.

 

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Some photos sourced from the internet. Fair use for educational purposes is claimed.

 

Mountings. Robbins used many different types of mountings.  Blancard (so-called Tiffany) clasps and robust T-bar pin-backs are likely most commonly encountered.  Standard top-drop-in catches are sometimes seen as well as occasionally, as in this week’s badge, screw posts with nuts.

 

Hallmarks.  As occasionally encountered, this week’s badge exhibits no hallmarks or content marks.  Many badges will exhibit combinations of Robbins’ British-style hallmarks and content marks of; “STERLING.”  Rarely, additional content marks such as “Top 10K” or “14K” are known.  Differing sizes of hallmarks and content marks appear and can be seen in various illustrations.

 

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Some photos sourced from the internet. Fair use for educational purposes is claimed.

Backing.  Evidently Robbins marketed this badge with a felt backing.  These cloth backings were not very robust but are occasionally encountered by collectors.

 

The oversize, handsome design and hand finished variations of the Robbins large-type badge make them a true delight for collectors.  Robbins’ manufacturing method of die striking then hand embellishing meant that each individual badge would exhibit subtle differences from the next.  An impressive collection of singularly this type Robbins wing could be assembled with each badge in some way unique and each badge equally prized.

 

What other variations of the large type Robbins badge are out there?

 

 

 


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