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  #1  
Old 13-07-11, 08:04 AM
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Peter Brydon Peter Brydon is offline
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I have always thought it rather strange the way that a lot of medal collectors consider that so called "toning" on silver medals is desirable and some dealers seem to think that, for example, when for example a WW1 British War Medal is virtually black,it is a selling point.

It seems to me that there is an argument that medals should be kept in the same state that they were when issued and/ or worn but I seem to be guilty of double standards when it comes to badges.

When I first started collecting badges I would polish new acquisitions and keep them in a polished state. I soon decided that that was not the way to go and for a long time all I have done is remove the worse gunge and verdigrise from new acquisitions before putting them in glazed frames and making the frames as airtight as possible.

The thead on the hall marked silver Liverpool Pals badge which appears to have had a brooch fitting removed,replacement lugs fitted and then chemically cleaned made me think about a badge I recently acquire which needed a repair.

The silver plated Liverpool Volunteer Borough Guard pouch belt plate in the pictures was in two pieces,the liver bird having broken off. The repair by a local jeweller is superb but the item needed to be chemically cleaned after the repair to remove the marks caused by the application of heat during the repair.

The badge now looks as if it was made yesterday ( indeed as it would have looked when new ) so I am wondering if I should have had the item repaired.

Years ago I had the missing lugs on a Liverpool Pals shoulder title replaced and that item was chemically cleaned after by the chap who put the lugs on it for me. For a considerable time that one title stood out from the rest until it developed a patina which took the shine off it.

Patina seems to be one of the characteristics that fellow collectors look for in considering if an item is genuine and I wonder how important other collectors think the patina of a badge is ?

P.B.
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  #2  
Old 13-07-11, 08:35 AM
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Rob Miller Rob Miller is offline
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A very good question.

I have a broken "RF City of London" shoulder title. It has been suggested that I get it repaired, but as I don't have the missing part and no idea what battalion number it originally had it made me think I might be creating a fake?
So I have kept it as found.

Another thing I find amazing is Antique dealers taking wooden wartime ammo boxes and trunks and stripping them back to bare pine, but they all know you shouldn't polish the patina off a bronze statue, a real double standard.

I guess the end user needs to make the decision, not the dealer?

Rob

Last edited by Rob Miller; 13-07-11 at 08:36 AM. Reason: "Lack of moral fibre"
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  #3  
Old 13-07-11, 09:28 AM
Staffsyeoman Staffsyeoman is offline
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Yes, a source of fervid debate. I am afraid 'nice toning' on a medal is simply 'dirty'. Anyone who thinks that patina is a guarantee of authenticity is missing something.

Recently I was in the RAF Museum at Hendon and if you want to see how 'nice toning' and 'original ribbons' can rapidly look dirty, forgotten and forlorn, go look in the cases of the Battle of Britain aircrew. To the other side of the coin, I am sure none of us wants our metallic objects to go to 'Guardsman polished'. It's a matter of degree.

On the other extreme, I have to turn my head to stop me from screaming when I pass through the 'collectors' market' in Covent Garden of a Monday where a dealer sells - amongst other things - WW2 British military compasses. All lovingly stripped back to retina-searing polished brass. Now that is the very definition of 'over-restored'.
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  #4  
Old 13-07-11, 03:44 PM
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I'm new to collecting military badges but have given much thought to the cleaning conundrum. Most will agree it's basically a question of degree. Removing dirt and grime is more than reasonable in my opinion. If the original detailing is protected a sympathetic clean can only enhance. However, I do not like to see years of age and patina lost forever. A skilled jeweller may offer sympathetic restoration, a chemical formula a pleasing shine, but surely something is lost? The idea of wiping away layers of history bothers me. Most of the badges I own are are worn and damaged and generally bear witness to a hard life. Yet, for all their faults, I prefer to look at the battered and bruised than the pretty and pristine. Maybe it's misplaced romanticism on my part but its how I feel. None of this means I only want broken down old badges in my collection. There's always room for fine examples without resorting to plastic surgery. I hope my words are not perceived as an attack on those who see things differently. We all pursue are hobbies in are own unique way and this is not a campaign to win hearts and minds.
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  #5  
Old 13-07-11, 07:48 PM
Charlie585 Charlie585 is offline
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Hello gents,

An interesting topic re-visited. I have battled long and hard with this subject myself and still do.

A gentleman whose wisdom I admired once said to me of collectors, that” it is entirely up to the individual what they choose to collect and what they choose to do with their collection”.

An individual is entitled to collect to his own tastes and must exercise the right not to be swayed the general consensus of other collectors or the opinions of so called experts.

Of course the condition of an item may eventually affect the perceived value of the items held in a particular collection should they be offered for sale for any reason.

On the other hand I have purchased items offered for sale at knock down prices because the vendor is under the impression that because the piece has been polished it no longer holds any real value. A stance I personally find rather absurd when applied to a genuine period item but seeing as I have profited from this apparent short sightedness I won’t complain, beauty is of course in the eye of the beholder!

As to my own collection with regard to cleaning and polishing:
There are badges that I have cleaned only to regret it afterwards, feeling that they have in some way lost some of their magic. Other badges that have had the treatment have in my opinion been vastly improved by the process.

I am influenced to some degree by the metal that the badge is constructed from. I think that a dirty WM badge is no more than that and deserves to have its pride restored. After all the argument that this dirt is part of the badge’s history is flawed in that during the period of the badge’s active service life it would by its very nature have been an item that would in most cases have been polished with pride. This period of service is what appeals to me as a collector of insignia not the fifty to a hundred or more years that it may have been sat in a drawer, box, loft or puddle.

Of course I run the risk of a contradiction as I’m sure that I share the opinion of many when I say that when it comes to brass badges the patina that they often display is the key to a large extent of the aesthetic attraction of these items and maybe just maybe one could be forgiven for the romanticism that this conjures amongst us.

There are also other items of insignia that fall within the realms of this discussion. I have recently decided for the reason of display to polish brass Shoulder Titles and that unless a brass shoulder title that was originally blackened retains this finish to include these in that decision.

Again a matter of personal choice due to my opinion that these items as opposed to badges are if left uncleaned no more than a dirty piece of brass. This probably stems from my own service where although we wore “Staybrite” badges, any items of brass few in number though they were, had to be kept in a high state of polish. A degree of pride was taken in this matter and that leads me to a further point.

I view my collection of military badges as items that represent the service of the particular serviceman that wore them in their time. What greater tribute could be paid to these individuals than for their new owners to continue in the spirit of pride that was put into these items by restoring and keeping them in the condition that they enjoyed when in use for their original purpose?

Repairs:

Repairs are another matter and of course this aspect of a badge’s condition bears directly on its value in monetary terms, many of us enjoy gaining a damaged item that if in its original undamaged condition may be generally unobtainable due to its rarity or cost with a view to having it repaired / restored.

It is my personal opinion that in most cases the repair of a damaged badge is a positive act. Should a badge have been adapted in service though for a particular reason, or have suffered battle damage, then that is indeed part of its history and any consideration of repair should in my opinion again be sympathetic to this fact.

Regards to all

Ry
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  #6  
Old 13-07-11, 08:27 PM
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The bottom line of this argument is quite simple ! You cannot compare medals with badges ! Medals follow the same condition criteria as coins, so patina is critical in estimating the condition (and therefore the value) of a medal. To clean and polish a coin is unacceptable and affects the value of the item - and the same applies to medals. Even when repairing a medal (replacing a suspender) every care is taken not to interfere with the patina of the medal disc. Badges are quite dfferent and should not even be discussed in the same context. David
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Old 13-07-11, 11:19 PM
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sparkling or filthy is irrelephant ( African or Indian ), the only thing that matters is originality.
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Old 14-07-11, 05:55 AM
REMEVMBEA1 REMEVMBEA1 is offline
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As a collector not a trader I may be out of line with the general thinking but to me the monetary value is immaterial as I collect for pleasure and consider patina to be another word for neglect.
I can imagine some squaddie wearing a dull badge telling the RSM that it was patina.
I was always proud of my capo badge and disliked A/A because of the fact that in my job they quickly deteriorated by having the surface scraped of when working under vehicles so that the black base showed through so I always wore a bi metal QC badge which could be highly polished. I therefore like to keep my displayed badges well shone by frequent brushing with a dry nail brush.
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Old 14-07-11, 08:10 AM
Staffsyeoman Staffsyeoman is offline
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No offence to David, but I have never known a serious medal vendor gauge the condition of a service medal (as opposed to a medallion) simply based on its patina. Being 'toned' will not raise its grading alone - and in this day and age of extremely good reproductions in original materials tarnish on a medal signifies little of definitive 'proof', and I have seen no end of other reproductions/fake medals artificially aged, especially to hide that they are not made of the metal they should*.

A carefully cleaned, good condition (e.g.) MM is worth no less than a 'toned/dirty' one. Many more factors determine the condition of a medal, and toning in a description is purely aimed at preference.

Absolutely agree about coins, but cleaning a war medal will not - unless you damage it in the process - bring down its grading. Thank heavens we do not have arguments over NEF, VEF, AEF, GVF, VF, NVF, F concerning cap badges...

* Case in point was a Mediterranean Medal which looked good from a distance, but was actually a nickel-washed lead core treated to look tarnished.
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Old 14-07-11, 10:31 AM
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In regard to this thread I would be interested to see what the general concensus of opinion would be with an item I have & have pondered what to do with - I have a nice Victorian RMLI HP which is missing a lug but it has a lovely dark patina to it, I was going to send it to Dave to be repaired but he explained that the patina may well be affected by the process of affixing the new lug. So, initially it put me off having it done but I wonder now what some of you would do in the same position?
Would you stick with the dark colour of age (which I do like) or do I have it fixed & then polish it to even out the colour?

Regards....Andy
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Old 14-07-11, 10:58 AM
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Jibba Jabba Jibba Jabba is offline
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There is a point where a collector must decide if oxidisation is resulting in corrosion which is damaging the badge. Silver badges are not immune to pitting.

As a rule I dont polish unless the current condition of the badge is dangerous to its well being.

Patination on badges in my opinion brings out detail, just as it does with old hammered British coinage.
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Old 14-07-11, 11:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cossack View Post
In regard to this thread I would be interested to see what the general concensus of opinion would be with an item I have & have pondered what to do with - I have a nice Victorian RMLI HP which is missing a lug but it has a lovely dark patina to it, I was going to send it to Dave to be repaired but he explained that the patina may well be affected by the process of affixing the new lug. So, initially it put me off having it done but I wonder now what some of you would do in the same position?
Would you stick with the dark colour of age (which I do like) or do I have it fixed & then polish it to even out the colour?

Regards....Andy
Andy - You raise a very valid point - repair or not repair ? I use a badge repairer who takes the view that, if you wish to retain patina - and that could include plating - then you re-lug with solder. If you want the entire item to shine then you use low temperature braze. The latter is always preferable for long term stability of repair but not always acceptable for the finish created. I therefore settle for some badge repairs to be soldered and retain the patina. If your RMLI helmet plate is other ranks' pattern, I don't think you have a problem losing the patina as it would have been polished initially, However, if it is an officers' pattern, you must think of the affect on the silver gilt plating so soldering would be best. Just my humble thoughts on the matter. David
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Old 14-07-11, 06:21 PM
Charlie585 Charlie585 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cossack View Post
In regard to this thread I would be interested to see what the general concensus of opinion would be with an item I have & have pondered what to do with - I have a nice Victorian RMLI HP which is missing a lug but it has a lovely dark patina to it, I was going to send it to Dave to be repaired but he explained that the patina may well be affected by the process of affixing the new lug. So, initially it put me off having it done but I wonder now what some of you would do in the same position?
Would you stick with the dark colour of age (which I do like) or do I have it fixed & then polish it to even out the colour?

Regards....Andy
HI Andy,

I acquired a RE GV 1916 economy badge minus its slider some time ago, this badge had an extremely attractive patina and I was reluctant to have the repair carried out due to the same concerns that you have. In the end after discussing it with Dave I sent it off to him to have the repair carried out. Upon its return I was delighted to see that Dave had carried out a very convincing repatination of the badge, so much so that I now have this example as part of my framed RE collection taking the place of the original complete example that I had before.


Ry
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Old 14-07-11, 07:08 PM
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Thanks David & Ry for the responses,
I am now re-contemplating sending it to Dave after your comments. It is an OR's one so as David said it would have been polished anyway plus Ry's comment on Dave's good work on his badge is swaying me in that direction. I have a couple of other items to send to Dave anyway so will have to make up my mind soon. I am awaiting a reply from him to see if he can repair a broken hook on a wm rosette from a blue cloth helmet & then I will decide what I send or don't send.
I will keep you posted as to my ultimate decision!
Best regards......Andy
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