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WWII B.B.& B. Pilot Wings Question


AirMechanic

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Did B.B. & B. ever make WWII USAAF pilot wings? If so, can someone post a photo of a pair? Were these typically marked “Sterling”, or just the word “Silver”? Any help is appreciated!

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There are some wings marked BB&B Bronze.  Again, not a very uncommon pattern of wing and I think the jury is stil out.

 

BB&B did make a jump wing that is very valuable (and relatively rare).  There are some USN aviator wings from the 20's and 30's (probably) marked BB&B.

 

Read this thread.

 

 

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Thanks for the reply. I do remember reading that post at one time. To elaborate on my question, I was wondering if B.B.&B. made any of the standard WWII pattern pilots wings, not the 1930s variant.

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So...did any of the wingdings win the BB&B wing? Ww1 Captain who served through ww2. I'm guessing a medals or ww1 aero collector won it all?

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5thwingmarty

Bob shows the Adams style BB&B wing with the WWII AAF wings on his site.  It is possible that like Noble and Robbins that BB&B continued to offer this pattern through WWII.  Does anyone have a WWII BB&B catalog?

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This is the wing in question cropped from the auction photos. I don’t know how to post a link, but it was ebay item #274456483867. I did see a similar B.B.&B. pilots wing posted on the ww2wings.com website, but did notice two differences. The pin seems a little different in the auction photos (hinge looks more robust/bigger) and the wing in the auction was stamped “Silver”, not “Sterling”. I’m not a wing collector, so I passed on this lot, but can anyone tell if the wings in the auction were authentic?

F851652A-0BCE-4EDE-8718-730B49DCDA96.jpeg

6B71D1DC-9C5C-4167-BF2F-3971F2C9A539.jpeg

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I saw those wings as well. I threw a bid on the lot but it was about half of the final bidding. The original owner had extensive combat flight time in WW1...not sure what he did in WW2, but he retired as a Captain, per his obituary (there's a paper group of his closing today that probably answers those questions).

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This is the paper for the group. I hope whoever bought the medals and insignia can reunite it all. Looks to be a really super group. 

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Interesting wing.  The "SILVER" mark is wrong.  As a well established jewelry company, they wouldn't have used SILVER but instead they would have used the appropriate STERLING mark.  It is hard to see the BB&B  hallmark so I cannot compare it to the one on Bob's site.  Also, Bob's example has a "camed" pin that limits the opening to about 90 degrees (like the vintage NS Meyer wings), whilst this one doesn't seem to have that type of pin.  I also wonder about some of the other items in the grouping (like the combat infantry man's badge)

 

 

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Seems to be several nice groups getting broken up on eb@y lately.  Was a nice WWII USMC one last week.

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All in all, I have mixed feelings about this grouping.  It seems like the paperwork, photos and some of the medals are very very nice.  There is a squadron badge that looks ok, but the Tiffany hallmark seems off--but that is only based on what I see in some poor photographs.

 

I would be willing to bet dollars to donuts that if you were to search for BB&B made items (not just wings), you would be very hard put to find even one that was marked SILVER instead of STERLING.  BB&B did have a line of insignia that were marked BRONZE, but I believe that was a trademark. 

 

Sure, I am as much as a Pollyanna when it comes to certain ebay auctions (the seller isn't strictly a militaria guy, there are lots of interesting and vintage stuff that is 100% related to this grouping, its a potentially very rare wing), but for that type of money when one thing is wrong, I wonder about the other things.  I want to believe in this wing... but I would also want a pretty good return option policy as well.  Sometimes things get salted into groupings in order to sell low value items. Sometimes things get added prior to the end seller getting a hold of the grouping  I know a couple of antique dealers who are notorious for doing that type of thing.  It would nice to see some provenance underlying where the group came from --was it out of an estate sale and is there a list of items sold, or was it bought from some other source.  Especially for that kind of money.

 

Frankly, I really do hope that the BB&B wing is good (I would love to have egg on my face and be totally wrong), and all the paperwork and photos are absolutely great.  The medals seem to be a nice mix of common and uncommon stuff that all could have come from the same guy.  Its just that "silver" mark and the pin on that wing.... 

 

P

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5thwingmarty

The fittings appear to match those on a BB&B Airship wing that Ron Burkey sold, and the sub badge posted in this thread.  

 

I have a Blackinton pilot wing that appears to have been made for Pasquale that is only marked SILVER.  It lacks the Pasquale name but the pattern of the rear matches other Pasquale hallmarked wings, which for some reason are marked SILVER and not STERLING.  I don't know if that has any bearing with this BB&B wing, but If I had seen the listing I would have bid on it.

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His NY CSC medal was auctioned in another lot and was traceable to him. The medals in that group look appropriate down to the silver citation star on the WWI victory medal.  There is even a photo of him wearing the WWI medals in one of the lots, 

 

He earned Mexican Border Service Medal 20059 . That medal was present in the lot.

 

He also earned a Purple Heart which was sold to the high bidder of the lot. I saw a photo of it.  A Purple Heart to a WWI Aviator would be worth more than that BBB wing.  I doubt that wing was added to salt the group. 

 

Kurt

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So just to throw my hat in the ring on this, the wing on my site is in my personal collection.  I got it through a fellow collector a very long time and to be honest, I've never felt 100% comfortable that it's actually a WW2 era wing.  It's a very nice wing in hand but I have not been able to find any documented proof that they are authentic to the period.  I leave them on the site because they are an interesting set of wings and a good conversation starter but I can't put a stamp of approval on them without some additional documentation.  

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  • 2 weeks later...

As the wing has now made its way back to ebay with many much clearer photos, I wonder what everyone's thoughts are now?

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/HOLY-GRAIL-WWII-BB-B-Bailey-Bank-Biddle-3-SILVER-pilots-wings/143714670645?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649

 

I don't have an example of one of these BB&B wings to compare to, but it does look very much like the slick-back non-hallmarked "Noble" wing I showed in the Noble thread.  It appears to have the same vaulting as the Noble wings, which the BB&B wing on Bob's site does not, and the BB&B wing I saw at the SOS a couple years ago was also completely flat. The font for the BB&B on Bob's wing is also different than the BB&B font used on the ebay wing.   At this point I am leaning towards this being a real wing (not a cast copy) that has been "enhanced" at some point.

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It is always hard to know for sure, but I do hate it when someone just opines... "It's bad!  Trust me, I know stuff!"

 

So what don't I like about it:

The SILVER mark.  It is bogus, I challenge you to find another BB&B marked piece of jewelry that has SILVER (rather than sterling).

The BB&B hallmark doesn't look right, with the wrong font and style.  Again, there are enough vintage BB&B marks out there that finding what a "good one" looks like isn't that hard.

The patina is a classic "chemically derived/patina from a can".  Again, normal patina doesn't develop in that blotchy multi-hued tones.  I've handled plenty of fake wings to have a pretty good idea of what is what.

The pin and catch aren't right.  Like a NS Meyer fake, the flopping over/uncammed pin is suspect.

 

The details on the wing (including the shield) look awfully like a casting.

 

Compare that wing with the one on Bob's site.  Granted Bob is being humble, but I would nave NO quibble about his wing being a vintage BB&B made product.  Side by side, those two wings look nothing alike.  Bob's wing looks what my experience tells me a BB&B pilot wing would look like.  This one, looks EXACTLY like what I would expect a fake wing to look like.

 

So, just studying the wing, independent of any "story" from who or what sold it on ebay, I would not want this sucker in my collection.


I frequently get worried when a lot of the bad parts of the wing (and there are lots of bad parts) get explained away by independent factors that have almost nothing to do with the physical characteristics of the wing.  That is when the old saw about  buying the item not the story starts to come into play.  I think that (and I said it initially) there are some great parts of the grouping. Some great medals, paperwork, photos, etc. BUT there are also some questionable things, like the Tiffany marked squadron badge and this BB&B wing.  Specifically, It may have been a good squadron badge at some point, but I don't believe the Tiffany hallmark is kosher.  The other part of the squadron badge lot appeared to have been a cast brass piece from a wooden plaque. You also have a bunch of non-related "stuff" put into the groupings.  A WWII//KW CBI, some run of the mill campaign medals, some bits and pieces of "stuff", that almost seem extraneously added--all that raises some concerns.  Why would I accept that the BB&B wing is kosher but not worry about the CBI? The nice parts of the group in no way "support" the vintage of the others.  Its not like there is any real provenance or proof (like a photo of him wearing the wing).

 

So my sense still remains that some items were either enhanced or added to this grouping.  I doubt that without that horrible BB&B hallmark, no one would be dropping crazy money on a "SILVER" marked pilot wing with a fake can patina absent a bunch of photos and paperwork that are clearly great.

 

My 2 cents

 

 

 

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