by Carl A. Bogar, Jr., Historic Military Impressions
Several years ago, I was contacted to provide an appraisal for a grouping of German WWII badges. The Korean War veteran explained that his older brother got the medals while serving in Europe in Patton’s Third Army and gave them to him as a gift upon his homecoming. The grouping consisted of a silver Infantry Assault badge, Medal of 1 October 1938 without Prague Castle Bar, third pattern gold German Mothers Cross, Coburg Badge and a silver Anti-Partisan badge. The first three were easy to provide information and value, however, the Coburg Badge and the Anti-Partisan Badge were a little more difficult.
The Coburg Badge is one of Germany’s earliest badges and extremely rare. It was issued in 1932 on the 10th anniversary of the Nazi’s march with Hitler to Coburg to confront the Marxists, of the 700 or so members of the NSDAP members that were involved only about 450 Germans were present to receive the badge in 1932. After very careful consideration and getting a second opinion from a friend, we concluded it was an original badge but had the pin replaced with a thinner pin attached to the original hinge. With no available information on the sale of an original Coburg Badge, we provided a safe range on what he could expect. We also provided what he could expect from buyers trying to get the item for as low a price as that could.
The Anti-Partisan Badge is one of the most desired by collectors which results in it being one of the most copied and/or faked. At the time, the only information on the Anti-Partisan Badge is based on a small number of known examples. All the examples were produced by the only known manufacturer, C. E. Juncker in Berlin. The key feature of the Juncker badge was the semi hollow reverse. The example I was given was correct in every detail except the reverse was flat and solid. With all that was known at the time, I had no choice to list it as a copy, but it was the finest copy I have seen.
When the owner came to pick up the badges, we provided our findings in writing with documentation. The Anti-Partisan Badge, I explained, could have been made on original dies shortly after the conclusion of the war to sell to U.S. GIs as a souvenir. I was then told his brother was wounded and home in April 1945. I was provided the opportunity to buy the three common items and Coburg Badge for half the price I quoted. I was able to get the three but had to let the Coburg Badge go because it was more than I could afford at the time. The Anti-Partisan Badge, was lent to us for displays until the owner decided what to do with it.
Two years later, I was contacted by the owner of the Anti-Partisan Badge. I was asked if we still had it. I informed him that we did and asked if he wanted it returned. I was told that we could keep the badge and the Coburg Badge sold to a buyer in London for a thousand dollars more than the value we placed on it. This put the Anti-Partisan Badge in a strange light being that all four of the items were from the same source and were original except the Anti-Partisan Badge, and the fact that collection included a rare Coburg Badge.
Several years passed and new information became available on the Anti-Partisan Badge. It became known that a second manufacturer did produce the badge after the C.E. Juncker location was destroyed by aerial bombing. However, the second company was unknown and what their badges look like is also unknown. Now the Anti-Partisan Badge was elevated from a damn good copy to it could be real, but we still could not prove it.
In the Spring of 2009, I was on vacation in Florida, when I came across two older gentlemen at a large flee market in Webster. I showed them the two photos I had on my I-Pod Touch and one of the gentlemen asked if it was for sale. I explained our policy is anything donated we will not sell or dispose of. The two men then told me it was original, but they did not have the book that could prove it. At this point in time, the people who have seen the badge and have credible knowledge were split 50/50 on if it is original or a copy. I also have a photo database of hundreds of examples of Anti-Partisan Badge copies and fakes that does not resolve the issue either.
I have selected this item as my “Favorite Find” because it shows the hobby of military collecting is a changing hobby. Understanding the story behind an item is as important as the item itself. Sadly, when we get an item we rarely get the history or the history is assumed suspect because of the amount of unscrupulous people that have found their way into the hobby.
It also shows the hobby is not a science and is not absolute in the body of knowledge. What we know about military artifacts can and is changing. Collectors have to strive to keep their knowledge up to date and have an open mind to the understanding that there is something new to learn.
Finally, the Anti-Partisan Badge is simultaneously an item that is a worthless copy and yet could be an extremely rare and expensive example of the second manufacturer of the badges. Proving it is still the question and that is for us all the fun. As for my opinion on the authenticity of the item, well I will let you the reader decide.