Auction Report: World War I Squadron Insignia, Archive Take Top-Lot Honors

Lt. Paul Green’s(French Escardille 131-Bomber Group 4 World War I aircraft insignia fetched $13,200.

BOUCKVILLE, N.Y. — A World War I squadron insignia and archive pertaining to American pilot Lt. Paul Green took the top lot with a winning bid of $13,200 at a live and Internet auction held June 8 and 9 held by Mohawk Arms.

Lt. Green was assigned to the French Escardille 131, Bomber Group 4. His bomber bore the insignia of a gargoyle clutching a bomb. Originally printed and hand-colored, insignia with background and red painted border was applied to the very fabric of Lt. Green’s plane. It was signed by Paris printer L. Braun and artist Gudin Faucher.

The artwork was in remarkable condition, considering it had bullet damage from when Lt. Green was forced to crash-land his airplane. The archive contained 50 documents, including Lt. Green’s flight log for missions flown, the 1919 published history of all the members of Lt. Green’s squadron and a framed portrait of Lt. Green in uniform.

A Nazi SS officer’s dress sword with wire-wrapped wood grip and original SS officer’s silver-bullion portopee sold for $7,931.

The sale was billed as Militaria Auction #69 for Mohawk Arms. The firm only holds two auctions per year, but they are generally packed with a wide array of items spanning multiple conflicts and generations. Approximately 900 lots went to new owners.

According to Raymond Zyla, owner of Mohawk Arms, areas of the market that are somewhat soft now include uniforms from the European Imperial period, Civil War pieces, photography and average-condition muskets (excluding Confederate firearms) and some lower-grade Colt weapons, “But quality sells, no matter what,” he said. “The market is healthy at the high end; always has been.”

Japanese Manchuko breast star of the Grand Cordon, one of only 144 awarded during World War II, found a buyer at $2,056.

The auction featured many items pertaining to the Third Reich, Nazi items, Adolf Hitler and even Hitler’s mistress, Eva Braun. One lot that did particularly well was a rare Nazi SS officer’s dress sword with wire-wrapped black wood grip bearing a nickeled disc holding relief “SS” runes and a stylized two-tiered pommel cap. The sword fetched $7,931.

A German Panzer “75” bronze assault badge with a squared-off wreath and eagle and a solid back, with the number “75” shown in the panel at the base of the wreath, garnered $2,530. Also, a 1937 Christmas greeting card signed in ink by Adolf Hitler, with a handwritten ink addition reading “Sent to you with highest regards,” with an embossed eagle and swastika, brought $2,473.

Other Nazi items included a book from Hitler’s personal library, titled “Ja-Sagen Zum Judentum” (“Say Yes to Judaism”). The book, a rare 1933 publication of a Berlin radio station, dealt with the plight of the German Jews and contained numerous pencil notations by Hitler. It brought $1,821. Also, a matted and framed ink-signed photo portrait of Herman Goring wearing his decorations and holding his Nazi Field Marshall baton, made $881.

A Japanese Manchuko breast star of the Grand Cordon award, claimed by a G.I. during World War II and one of only 144 breast stars awarded, having a multi-colored enamel octagonal center on a red enameled cross set with pearls, rose to $2,056; and an original Springfield M1816 Mexican War musket, converted to percussion, with a sword bayonet that was probably issued and used by one of the Germanic militia units in the Mexican War, topped out at $1,762.

A coconut carved into a caricature of a Japanese soldier by a U.S. Marine on Okinawa in World War II for use as target practice tabbed a sale at $705.

Three lots realized identical selling prices of $705. The first was a commemorative period medal honoring the cavalry leader Gen. George A. Custer, who fell at the legendary Battle of Little Big Horn. The medal showed a profile of Custer in uniform, with crossed sabers and side flags. The second was a World War II Army Nurse Corps “Flying Nurses” shoulder patch, worn by nurses assigned to the China-Burma-India area of operations. It’s hand-embroidered and rare.

The third was a coconut carved by a U.S. Marine into an uncomplimentary caricature of a Japanese soldier. The Marines on Okinawa used decorated coconuts for target practice. This one showed a seated figure, wearing glasses and a helmet and sporting buckteeth and a painted Japanese flag. Rounding out a list of just some of the sale’s top lots, a circa-1850 South Indian sword with a straight broad blade that widens toward the tip commanded $529.

Mohawk Arms’ next auction is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 15-16, although firm dates haven’t yet been set. Already consigned are Imperial German helmets, a wide assortment of medals and badges, ethnographic knives and swords, a Krag Bowie bayonet and Confederate bonds and currency.

For more information, visit the Mohawk Arms website.


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