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PAKISTAN TYPE 3: SPECIAL FORCES B

AVIATION and SUPPORT UNIT SERIES

 

Despite this odd mixture of subjects, these patches all appear to have come from a common source. These are believed to be the product of a dealer operating in the late 1980s who had a good idea of what patches would appeal to collectors. He took a multiple marketing approach and aimed at collectors seeking high dollar Special Forces units, medium priced aviation units as well as more mundane but still profitable odd ball support units. The advantage of doing this is it allowed him to produce a very convincing price list that did not seem to concentrate on any one particular area, while also enticing a broader variety of customers.

 

A large number of these patches apparently circulated into the market before collectors became wise to them. References were still lacking to warn customers away. Interestingly, the designs, dimensions, and colors are fairly accurate, suggesting that they may have been copied from originals. A number of these appear to have been taken directly from the Unauthorized Unit Patches shown in Shelby Stanton’s Vietnam Order of Battle.

 

An odd feature of this series is that while most of the patches were produced with natural threads giving a period appearance, a number were also duplicated with a heavy use of bullion thread. These must have appealed to some collectors as the proverbial “rare variation”, even though it defies the norm of what was actually used during the period. Some were hybrids, with just a touch of bullion thread for the border or for highlights. Even this, no matter how tasteful, would have been unusual for the standards of the Vietnam period.

 

Below: It’s interesting how some designs worked very well with Pakistani techniques, while others were just mangled. This 54th AVN Co is just a true gem. It features applique work both for the MACV and the lettered panels. Note how well the otter is outlined and the detail to the facial features. The flip side shows a white mesh material, the excess threads tied off in knots, and the linear stitching used to secure the border. A bullion version was also made, but it is much less convincing and hardly as good looking.

 

Note the ribbed background material and the chord embroidery cloth. Both of these are hall marks of Pakistani made patches.

PK_54TH.JPG

PK_54TH_BULLION.JPG

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PAKISTAN TYPE 3: SPECIAL FORCES B

AVIATION and SUPPORT UNIT SERIES

 

Backside of the 54th AVN Co. Patch (natural threads, not the bullion one).

Otter_Air_back.JPG

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PAKISTAN TYPE 3: SPECIAL FORCES B

AVIATION and SUPPORT UNIT SERIES

 

Two more worthy examples.

 

Below 1) One of the most striking reproductions seen by this author, a Pakistani made ARVN Special Forces LLDB. The base material is a smooth green silk, without the ribbed chord seen on most Pakistani made patches. The border is understated, consisting of a single strand of chord embroidery thread. The chute is an applique panel, the tiger fully embroidered. The patch is padded, giving all of the elements a three dimensional effect. All of this is sewn on a white underlying material, backed by heavy black paper. Fortunately the source of this patch is known, otherwise it could have easily deceived anyone looking at it

 

Below 2) Maintenance and Logistics units seem to have been overlooked by most

repro artists. This is a fair rendition of the 261st Maintenance Detachment. The outline border is gold bullion, as is the sword. The 1st LOG patch is a separate applique that has been added. The truck design is a bit compressed, and the comic

effect of the tongue sticking out and the tires being askew is lost. Still, this patch shows some craftsmanship. Again note the ribbed background material.

PAK_LLDB.JPG

PAK_261ST.JPG

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PAKISTAN TYPE 4:

WIDE EDGE A

 

This series of classic Pakistani made patches is immediately recognized by the

extra band of base material extending from the stitched border to the edge of the patch. This effectively creates an outline of the overall shape that is rarely found on the originals.

 

There have been several series of patches from Pakistan with this same wide edge

technique, often made with gaudy material and a black wax paper backing. Because of their construction, they are often referred to as “blazer patches”, similar to those worn on a formal sports jacket. These patches are often less than convincing.

 

This particular group of patches is more subtle. While it employs the commonly used

“rope” embroidery thread, the applique materials are generally less ornate. Also, the back threads are left exposed. The lettering is well laid out, and the design elements are done with a rich, dense embroidery. A very nice level of detail is also achieved by the use of fine highlighting stitches.

 

The downfall of these patches is that they are too fine for field wear. Even without a

backing, they are quite stiff and do not bend well. The felt, or compressed wool backing material does not hold up very well when washed or wet. Those entrepreneurs who have tried this have usually ended up with a highly shrivelled up mess that would fool no one.

 

There are real military organizations in the world that make use of patches like these. But generally these patches are made to be clipped onto formal dress uniforms, and are removed before laundering. Climate is also a consideration. Wool based patches do not hold up well in warm, humid zones such as Vietnam. The French, with their European outlook, did make use of felt based patches during their time in Indochina. They also passed this practice onto their Vietnamese troops. However the few surviving examples of these patches often show the effects of both the climate and wool devouring insects. The use of wool based patches was just not a practical idea for many regions of Vietnam.

 

These Pakistani made reproductions have been in the market for quite some time. There is a major, well established US dealer who sells these as part of his catalog for reasonable prices between $6 and $12. They appeal to both veterans and those collectors who are merely seeking to fill a hole in their collection. Unfortunately, there are those who resell them as original period made items.

 

Below 1) This page: A Pakistani version of USN HELATKTRON-3. Note that the central design is more of an oval than a circle. The base material is a black medium

density black cotton. The center applique appears to be white silk, and the smaller one in yellow. The design and scroll are lined with a double layer of chord

thread.

 

While a great amount of thread has been used for this patch, theSea Wolf is lacking in detail, and looks a bit “chunky” rather than lean and mean. Both the eyes

and teeth are lacking in detail.

 

Below 2) Support Units usually do not get much attention from repro artists,

but this series included these two Signal unit patches. The Saigon

SUPCOM Commo patch is done on top of a black wool base cloth. It

features three layers of applique cloth, topped by a heavily embroidered green dragon. While impressive for the amount of labor put into this, the dragon’s facial features are somewhat lacking in detail. It is still a very striking and well done reproduction.

USN_HELATKLTRON3_PK.JPG

SUPCOM_SUPPORT_COMMO.JPG

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PAKISTAN TYPE 4:

WIDE EDGE A

 

A Pakistani made version of the USAF 23rd TASS, and not the best example of the work done in this series. Interestingly the one shown on the website for the vendor was much more detailed. The patch uses applique work for the background, tab, top part of the hat, clouds, face and body of the figure. The outer border of the patch is surrounded with a double layer of chord thread, all of this is on top of a black cotton material thats cut at the edge. The back on this example was not covered, with the waste threads and securing knots exposed.

USAF_23RD_TASS_PK.JPG

USAF_23RD_TASS_B.JPG

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For comparison sake, two Thai made versions of the USAF 23rd TASS...

 

In one of the other forums, the question was asked how do you tell the real from the fake. Our friend Bob from Vintage Productions commented that after awhile you get a feel for the real ones. Now its not always as easy as the contrast between these two, but you get the idea.

USAF_23rd_Tass_D_small.JPG

USAF_23RD_TASS_FAC_copy.JPG

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PHILIPPINES TYPE 1:

ARMY AVIATION AND SUPPORT UNITS

 

This series was specifically made for collectors in the early 1990's. They were produced by a shop in Manila who apparently did not quite get the size specifications right. These are about half the size they should be. Typically of Philippine work these are heavily embroidered. This is in marked contrast to the sparser use of thread found in Vietnamese or Korean made patches. Several of these examples were purchased directly from the dealer, who had them marked and priced as reproductions.

 

Below: A colorful selection, all about half or 3/4 the size they should be. The Free World Forces VN comes closest to proper size and is fairly true to the original design. However these were only know to exist as printed patches. All of these appear to be misshapen with weak design details. They feature straight edges which are all in some stage of fraying. The patches are also wrinkled due to poor cloth tension while sewing.

 

Size is everything. Compare the size of the patch to a quarter. Someunwary collector might be convinced that these are “ball cap badges”.

PI_SET_3.JPG

Send_Me_JPEG.JPG

PI_SET_2.JPG

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JAPAN TYPE 1:

FLARED LETTER SERIES

 

This series is quickly recognized by its distinctive lettering style, as well as its use

of synthetic threads and materials. This could either be the result of very skilled

embroidering or the product of a programmed sewing machine. Either way, the

letters are very well embroidered and have flared or tapered ends not unlike some

calligraphy letters. Oddly, for as well done as the letters and design details are, the borders look a bit tacky and uneven. Part of this is some unevenness and broken threads when the patches were cut from their master cloth.

 

Some of the synthetic threads also seem a bit weak and easily frayed. While these

patches are colorful, they would not last very long if actually worn.

 

Below 1) As crude as the RT Indiana looks, with a little additional effort it could have come very close to the original design. The overall shape is a bit shorter than it should be, causing the design elements to be crowded. Note how short the centipede’s legs are, and the crude shape of the sword.

 

Below 2) An RT Virginia copy. The skull is about half the size it should be, and the snake is poorly rendered. The unfortunate creature looks like it is ill! The sword is also rather unconvincing. The border is weak and about ready to break at the

top of the patch. The backing is the thin cheesecloth, and the backstitch

thread is white.

RT_INDIANA_JAPAN_BETTER.JPG

RT_Virginia_Japan.JPG

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Gil,

 

I don't have your CDs yet, but the primer here which you just outlined with these fakes are just the start. It took me many years of looking and collecting to be able to detect the more devious fakes from Thailand (which look oh-so-good!). You CDs look like they will save an inexperienced Vietnam insignioa collector tons of coin $$$.

 

It would be nice to re-start VICN, but the electronic age is here, and its much easier to communicate this way now.

 

Cheers,

Steve

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Hello,

 

I bought this patch several months ago in Ebay, I paid for 40usd, could you tell me whether it is fake or not, ? if fake, where and when was it made. If someone has a authentic local made MF, I will be very happy to see it.

 

Thanks for your help.

post-1523-1189453132.jpg

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vintageproductions

No worries on the twill Mike Force it is right as rain. I have pulled many of this style out of veteran groups I have purchased.

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THAILAND TYPE 6: ROTARY WEAVE

 

This series was originally thought to have been made at Clark Air Base in the

Philippines, but is now believed to be from Thailand. The reason is that both countries

share this type of embroidery style. Its most distinctive feature is the concentric

rings of stitches especially on the round patches. On other designs, the stitching will

typically follow the shape of the design with each progressive row of threads narrowing towards the center. This suggests the material was rotated during the sewing process, giving them their unique appearance.

 

Below: What appears to be a treasure trove for the USAF Special Operations collector

is actually a collection of Thai made reproductions. These are done in very bright shades of red, yellow, and orange which are typical of Thai embroidery. Note the relatively narrow border stitch and well trimmed flat edges. These were quite likely produced by the original shop that made them during the wartime period, but the lack of fine details that not would have been typical of those times. The aircraft on the A-1 200 Missions patch it looks more like the Spirit of St. Louis than a Skyraider.

THAI_A1_TRAIL.JPG

THAI_SPOOKY_622.JPG

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THAILAND TYPE 6: ROTARY WEAVE

 

More USAF Special Ops Gunship patches. These patches are interesting

because the threads of the black background and the tabs both are sewn in concentric circles starting from the center. Hence the name “rotary weave”. Again the large amount of fine thread makes these patches very stiff. The white thread on the C123 and Fire Control patches is very bright, as it is on the other patch. This is complemented by an equally bright yellow used for lettering, combined with the black backgrounds this makes for a very striking appearance. However, despite the preciseness of the embroidery these designs are very much lacking in fine detail. Our Shadow figure below is also a bit indistinct.

THAI_STINGER.JPG

THAI_17TH_SOS.JPG

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Gil,

 

I don't have your CDs yet, but the primer here which you just outlined with these fakes are just the start. It took me many years of looking and collecting to be able to detect the more devious fakes from Thailand (which look oh-so-good!). You CDs look like they will save an inexperienced Vietnam insignioa collector tons of coin $$$.

 

It would be nice to re-start VICN, but the electronic age is here, and its much easier to communicate this way now.

 

Cheers,

Steve

 

Thanks. And yes, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I thought I would just post some samples from the CD's just to get a discussion going. There seem to be a number of people reading these, so I hope it is getting some interest.

 

My friend Bob from Vintage Productions above will attest that I bugged the daylights out of everyone I could find in the Vietnam collecting community to send me their fakes. More than one person told me I was off my rocker. And more than one told me there was no way to make sense of all the fakes that had infiltrated the market... there were just too many of them.

 

But eventually examples filtered in. I would get one or two patches from one collector, and then match them up with a collection from another side of the country. I also had some collectors who provided dozens of examples. I could not have put all this together without the contributors named in the books. And yes, it did take years! I was cross comparing things right up until publishing!

 

I have some more Thai stuff I will be posting this weekend. They are among some of the more convincing reproductions, and many of them come from shops that provided shops during the wartime period.

 

The VICN, Vietnam Insignia Collector's Newsletter from Cecil Smyth and later Clem Kelly was the first real source of information for Vietnam era collectors. Perhaps we will eventually see an on-line version of it.

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FIFTEEN WAYS TO AVOID GETTING BURNED (1-5)

 

Let's pause for a bit and take a look at some tried and true ideas of how to avoid losing money on the fakes in the market....

 

1. Absolutely, positively do not deal with dealers who do not offer return privileges.

Certain dealers will give you every excuse in the book as to why you only have one

shot at buying their little gem, and why they can’t take it back if you later have

doubts. This is a trademark sign of a hustle.

 

A dealer who is confident that his material is good will normally have no problem in

accepting returns under reasonable circumstances. Experienced dealers in this field

are very much aware of the problems in authenticating items from the Vietnam War

and will usually understand the questions that may arise.

 

2. Learn to recognize the styles, materials and production methods of common repro

artists. In the Vietnam militaria market, knowing what is fake is as important as

knowing what is real.

 

3. If you happen to receive bogus material, photograph, scan or photocopy it before

sending it back. Make notes on materials, assembly techniques, and flaws and

where it came from. Share this information with other collectors; it makes for great

conversations at militaria shows and you might get some equally good information in

exchange.

 

4. If you come across bogus items that are priced cheap, consider taking them home

and creating your own “rogue’s gallery” of fakes. Use these to screen your future

purchases for your main collection.

 

5. Purchase inexpensive patches that are made the same way as the more expensive

items. Often what are now expensive and highly desirable items came from the

exact same sources as the cheap ones. Keep a sampling of Asian made name

tapes, common printed or embroidered patches, inexpensive beer can DI’s, rank

insignia, etc. that may provide clues to the authenticity of more desirable pieces.

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FIFTEEN WAYS TO AVOID GETTING BURNED (6-10)

 

6. Remember that not everything was made in Vietnam. Learn to recognize the different styles and construction techniques from Korea, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, the

Philippines, and other locations that made insignia for US Forces before, during,

and after the War.

 

Many postwar items were produced with methods and materials similar to wartime

pieces. These can often be helpful in identifying the origins of a wartime piece. For

example, Thai embroidery has a certain distinctive richness to it that continues even

to today. Conversely, a lot of Asian made postwar material, especially from Korea, is

often mistaken for “Vietnam in-country made” merchandise.

 

7. Study mail order military, surplus, and sporting goods catalogs that have reproductions and become familiar with what is circulating in this market. Surprisingly some of these items are good enough quality to pass for real when properly aged or otherwise modified. For example, there is more than one so-called “authentic” ARVN Ranger beret on the market today featuring a $5.95 metal badge bought from a US maker.

 

8. Save price lists from militaria dealers, especially those with photocopied patches or badges. These can make an excellent reference source for both good and bogus

items, and can help you trace where these materials are coming from.

 

9. Take every opportunity to examine original material. Find others who collect what

you do, and look at their collections. Ask what they know about where particular

pieces were made and used, and what are the hallmarks of an original. Equally

important, ask them if they’ve ever picked up a repro by accident and how they

detected it. Veteran’s displays will are also a good place to see period goods.

 

10. The Internet has become a gold mine of information; virtually a 24-hour museum

and militaria show combined. Today it is full of close up photos of patches and

militaria both good and bad. You can develop your own reference files by downloading or printing pictures from historical sites, veterans associations, museums, auctions, and private sales listings. Please respect the copyrights of these sites and only use this for study purposes.

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FIFTEEN WAYS TO AVOID GETTING BURNED (11-15)

 

11. Do not hesitate to ask a seller direct and pointed questions about where a piece of merchandise came from. This not only means the original source, but also dealers

and collectors who may have handled it in the meantime. Eventually you will come

to recognize who is bringing the bogus stuff to market.

 

12. Even when patches come from the best of sources, maintain a skeptical eye. Sometimes when well-known or respected collections are broken up, they may include reproductions simply because the owner liked them, or was using them as a “space filler” until an original came along. Groupings coming straight from a veteran may also include repros or souvenir patches only because the veteran couldn’t find (or in this market, couldn’t afford!) an original.

 

13. Be cautious if a large number of patches suddenly appear at shows or auctions

that all look like they came from the same shop. This is especially true if they were

made with a design or construction technique that has not seen before. This is often

a sign that an entrepreneur has dumped a new bunch of fakes into the market,

hoping that he can make a profit by sheer numbers before the collecting community

becomes aware of the scam.

 

14. Reference Material !!!, Reference Material !!!, Reference Material !!!

 

A few dollars invested in books, newsletters, or collector’s journals can save you

hundreds. Benefit from the experience and expertise of others and read before you

spend your hard earned cash.

 

15. Last, but not least... if it doesn’t look right (or if it’s priced just too good to be true), listen to your common sense and walk away from it! That’s hard to do in a collecting environment where competition is keen and many items are one of a kind. But morning after regrets can drive anybody completely out of the market. As one

experienced collector put it “It’s better to have a small collection that you are sure

about rather than have a huge collection that’s half fake! You’ll sleep better.”

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Hello Mr.Burket,

 

many thanks for taking the time to illustrate this thread with quality photos and some superb tips and information on the subject in question.

 

Truly a great help.

 

 

Patrick.

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Hello Mr.Burket,

 

many thanks for taking the time to illustrate this thread with quality photos and some superb tips and information on the subject in question.

 

Truly a great help.

Patrick.

 

Thanks Patrick! I am trying to pick "typical" examples. We don't have enough room to show everything, but I want to deflate the myth that there is "no way" to identify all the fakes in the market. It just takes a little patience....

 

The best advice, if possible, is to visit friends who have good items in their collections. When I lived in Texas, I was fortunate enough to live right up the road from a collector with a very large collection. Often we were able to pull items from his collection and sit them side by side with suspect items. Very rarely did the reproductions have the same quality or detail.

 

I have some more examples to share, and I also want to recommend some books that everyone should have on their shelf as reference material. And quite a bit of good material is also showing up on collections shown on the web, as well as pages posted by veterans organizations. "Stare and compare" is the best defense.

 

Thanks again... more to follow...

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PAKISTAN TYPE 1:

AIRBORNE and UNIT CREST SERIES

 

This series of patches was highly controversial when they were first discussed

in the early 1980's. Even today, one of the contributors who submitted a sampling of

these patches remains adamant that these are true period pieces. To add fuel to the fire, a reference book published during that time period included a number of these patches.

 

Since then, a significant number of them have been traced to a single dealer who specialized in airborne and elite unit insignia during that time.

 

The patches in this series can be very convincing due to their use of natural threads

and materials. This is in marked contrast to later series that made more use of synthetic or silk blend materials, as well as increased use of bullion thread. The fact that some of these duplicate some very rare and desirable designs only adds to their appeal. And with almost twenty years of aging, many of them have the look of vintage pieces.

 

A number of unit crest designs were made as part of this series, duplicating the distinctive insignia of airborne, infantry and combat support units. These look to have been made to appeal to military collectors in general, not just Vietnam specialists. Curiously, veterans often find these appealing as well made souvenir items and will buy them without concern about where they came from.

 

Below 1) 502nd Recon: One has to bear in mind that when these came to market there were very few resources available to challenge them. In fact the

first words of concern came mostly from veterans or those lucky few who actually owned the genuine item. This example is grossly misshapen and demonstrates the use of embroidery chord (or “rope”) for the outer borders and main design details.

502ND_LRRP_PAK.JPG

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PAKISTAN TYPE 1:

AIRBORNE and UNIT CREST SERIES

 

Below 1) 101st / MACV: A Pakistani made imitation of a novelty patch. The black portions are the base material, a gold lower portion added with a chorded material. The same use of embroidery thread provides the border and lettering, while the eagle is rendered with tightly interwoven threads. The result is a really stunning patch, even if the MACV details do look a bit chunky.

 

Below 2) 3/506 LRRP: This patch showing a very heavy use of chord embroidery

cloth for the borders. Note the details of the rifle more closely resemble a

fishing rod, and the lines of the parachute are once again askew.

101ST_PAK.JPG

sHOCK_FORCE_PAK.JPG

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PAKISTAN TYPE 1:

AIRBORNE and UNIT CREST SERIES

 

Below 1) C Plt, 173rd: An example of how a patch design can be “homogenized” when copied by repro artists. Like the 1st CAV examples, this is far too heavy and stiff for field wear. The border is a full 5mm wide. The central design is weak in details, with Casper being as bland as can be. The wings are also weak compared to other Pakistani embroidery. The tail on the helicopter looksbetter suited to a whale.

 

Below 2) The 5th SF Command and Control further demonstrates the tailor’s lack of familiarity with US Army helicopters. Typically the design details and border are heavily detailed.

CASPER.JPG

5TH_SF_CC_B.JPG

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PAKISTAN TYPE 2:

SPECIAL FORCES A

 

This series very likely came from the same source as Pakistan Type I, but it

shows some signs of having been made at a later date. The key difference is the

increased use of synthetic materials.

 

Below 1) An impressive interpretation of the CCC shellburst patch. The two black

portions are done with Pakistani ribbed chord material, and all of the key features are outlined with thick embroidery thread. The back is covered with a waxy black

paper overlaid on a cheesecloth backing. The letters are hand embroidered. All of this adds up to classic indicators of a Pakistani made patch. The outline of the skull is

asymmetrical, and the beret flash is worthy of note for the suggested SF crest. Because of successive layers of material and thread, this patch is as stiff as a board.

PK_CCC.JPG

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PAKISTAN TYPE 2:

SPECIAL FORCES A

 

Below 1) A MACV style shellburst patch of dubious authenticity. The skull and beret are typically bland in appearance. Backing is triple layers of Vietnamese newsprint, gray paper, and then white mesh. The panel is again black ribbed chord material.

Hoa_Cam_2.JPG

Hoa_Cam_back.JPG

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