seems so desirable in our medal collectors world than
those pilots badges - those Imperial German flight
badges. Aren't they symbols of WWI knightly hood, those
brave pilots in their propeller planes fighting over
Europe's blue sky. Those heroes were certainly the early
celebrities during those years. Very visible against the
sky, very visible among those looking for examples of
heroism. Always in the limelight of the war theater,
almost all decorated with the
Pour le Mérite.
Having most desired positions and decorations of the 1st
that these insignias find their way into the collections
of all serious and enthusiastic medal collectors. These
badges with all their symbolism are indeed beautiful,
yet falsified in large numbers. Compared to those simply
poured fakes, using multiple low melting metals, the
real piece is quite ornate and made of the highest
quality. There are nevertheless quite tricky to spot
pieces using quite refined techniques like
electroforming. Having lived in Wuppertal, Germany,
for some time of my life I had the "honor" of meeting
the master in this field. Besides plaques for spike
helmets he also was quite talented in generating those
desired Imperial German flight badges.
point two questions have to be raised:
a) what to
consider a real piece in terms of the timeframe it was
b) how to
determine if a piece belongs to that defined time period
For once, I
decided for myself to collect everything but the German
WWII or WWI badges and am very much convinced, that
there much better experts then I am to be able to judge
over these badges.
would like to comment on this topic very briefly.
believe, that badges have naturally been made before
1918. I also believe, that due to the high profile of
those brave men, badges could still be bought after 1918
all the way into the 2nd World War. A lot of those pilot
badges must have been made during the time of the
III.Reich. The question remains: What to consider a real
piece in terms of the timeframe it was made ?
is therefore even harder to answer. Some facts are
nevertheless certain. Poured piece are very likely fake.
Electroformed pieces are definitely fakes. As I
mentioned earlier, I once met one of those making
electroformed badges. The key here is, that he used a
cooper salt to form them. After silver plating and aging
them, it is quite hard to determine them to be fake.
Scratching the badge will work, but also the direct
comparison of a piece in question with a "known" to be
real piece. An electroplated piece is only as good as
its form it was made from.
I my opinion
it still is best to buy those badges from a real expert,
or directly as a whole group from the family of one of
those heroes. Like this one:
or this one, attributed to Ernst Kempfer:
or this one without name, despite being
bought from the original family :
I like to
hand over this topic to Robert Pandis, who devoted
several years of his collecting career to this
Hallmarks of Imperial Flight Badges
Schulze Ising, V/03