Reproductions & Fakes



USAAF Patches

by Les Hughes



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Reproductions & Fakes

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The WWII USAAF squadron patches illustrated in the top two images at the left were offered for sale by a dealer whose specialty is nineteenth century militaria. Occasionally, he acquires the odd item from WWI or WWII and includes it in his catalog, but it is clear from his offering that these items fall outside his expertise. The patches were offered for $200 each, an attractive price if they were authentic. Unfortunately, the illustrations of the patches in the catalog did not allow much of an assessment of that aspect, so I purchased the patches subject to a 3-day period of inspection. 

When I received the patches, I was struck immediately by the similarity of their construction, especially by the profusion of threads on the backs. I forwarded images to a friend who collects squadron patches, and he confirmed that these patches were among numerous reproductions that had been brought into this country years earlier by a dealer from the UK. That dealer had sold the patches as reproductions, but now, years later, they had begun to turn up as originals. I  returned the patches and received a prompt refund. I feel certain that the fellow selling these believed them to be original, and that this was simply another example of the danger of venturing beyond one’s expertise.

The other three images are of reproductions that are presently circulating.  They are illustrated to give one an idea of the appearance and quality of the reproductions that one may encounter.

As an side, years ago I wrote to the aforementioned dealer in the UK, and I asked if he would tell me who was making these reproductions. Even though I took pains in my letter to assure him I did not think him guilty of any wrongdoing, and that I was simply trying to learn who was turning out the high-quality copies he was selling, he never responded. Whoever is turning out patches such as these, no doubt they are still at it, and no doubt their skills are improving.  As for the dealer who would not answer my letter, I see that his swath now includes eBay, where his offerings include a variety of WWII-era cloth insignia whose construction is strikingly similar to those illustrated here.