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A Chinese made Expert Rifleman Badge?


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A sterling silver Expert Rifleman's badge made by a Chinese jeweler? That was the eBay description on an Expert Rifleman badge available with a high BIN. This one sat for a while. The jeweler this badge was attributed to, was located in Peiping, and was a favorite in the late 1930’s of the Diplomatic and the Marine Embassy Guards. The badge appears cast. It is not a elegant item with fine lines. The jewelers name, or the firms name, was Teh Ling. Ling’s store was located in the diplomatic quarter of the city. Certainly he did a thriving business with the Marines, if we are to judge by the number of cigarette cases, swagger sticks, rings, and tableware that surface on eBay each year. The products of his talents have appeared on Antiques Roadshow. In the 1930’s Ling aggressively advertised in all North China Marine publications. But making a silver ER, that’s a new one. But with a reduced BIN price I had to see.....F20381D2-34EC-40BB-A7AB-CE848FE1FE19.jpegEF00323D-94C7-4EE7-930C-1B1E0D317539.jpeg

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So here’s what I found. I have several pieces in my collection by Teh Ling. Tracking his silver marks over time through my own collection and numerous auctions, there are consistencies and inconsistencies in how he marked his pieces. First he was one of the few local jewelers who worked in “935” silver, which has a slightly higher silver content than sterling. “935” was what German and Austrian jewelers used. Most Chinese jewelers normally worked with a silver content of 800-900 or 85% to 90% purity combined with other base metals. He would stamp his pieces primarily with his full name or sometimes possibly with his initials. Ling would stamp on each piece the silver content and sometimes accompanied by the word “silver” or “sterling”. I noticed on some of my pieces and doing historical auction searches, a bald or missing spot of expanding size on the stamp used to place the numbers “935”. One other items, the “935” stamp was fully intact. But on others showed a bald or missing portion of the stamp. Against this, I have a piece from the BobGee collection with this same partial bald spot stamp. This item came with a 1938 dated sales receipt. If the gap represents a chip or damage to the silver content stamp, then we can plot that gap over time and know it is present from at least 1938....a smaller gap should mean before 1938, and if larger, from 1938 and beyond. I have added other examples of Teh Ling stamped “935” pieces for comparison. Most of these items are for silver tableware or jewelry, unrelated to the Marines. Next this badge is stamped with the initials “T.L.” It has been noted by one dealer he did that on smaller pieces, but that’s not necessarily correct either. I have a pair of cuff links by Ling with his full name written out. But an advertisement in a local Marine publication shows his initials are drawn in the interior of a ring. As for the badge itself, it’s a heavy one weighting in at 14.1 grams compared to similar American- made ERs at between 9.4 grams and 12.7 grams.













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There is under magnification, some evidence of hand finishing around the cut out at the bottom of the badge. The bar itself appears to be a closer match to an H&H pattern ER, but in my opinion not a detailed. It’s pin looks not different than a US manufactured piece.  Sadly, the Marine who may have commissioned this, did not have any personnel data engraved on the reverse allowing us to link it to an individual or specific date. But it appears, from the clues of the silver stamp and makers mark, a case can be made for a local jeweler made piece from the late 1930’s. Anyone have anything similar?



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I think you've nailed it as far as the maker


I am inclined to believe that this is a custom commissioned item...was the maker active during the occupation era? If yes, then perhaps this is a post-war piece. If no, then a piece made shortly before the war...otherwise I feel like we would have seen more, as Ling certainly would have used the die to make more for Marines to purchase if he had the time/opportunity

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