Maker: Johann Wagner & Sohn
Product Description: An exquisite and rarely seen Imperial German Fighter Pilot Honor Goblet with an attributed Flight Book, Post Card, and Variant Goblet Stand to “Leutnant Bongartz”. Leutnant Bongartz had a successful career as a fighter pilot during the First World War, prior to his being shot down and losing one eye. Leutnant Bongartz was credited with 33 Air Victories during his time as a fighter pilot, which made him ranked among the top 30 German Air Aces of the War. For his aerial successes, Bongartz was awarded the Pour le Merit in 1917, by Kaiser Wilhelm II personally. Leutnant Bongartz went on to command a Night Fighter Squadron during the Second World War. The Honor Goblet is an earlier produced “800” silver version made by the renowned silversmith firm of “Bruchmann & Söhne”. The Goblet features two eagles in aerial combat, with one eagle overtaking the other. The lower base of the Goblet is decorated with the raised lettering of “DEM SIEGER IM LUFTKAMPF”, which translates to “The Victor in Air Combat”. The goblet is expertly constructed of multiple pieces. The rear seam of the goblets main cup area is barely visible and attests to the skill and craftsmanship of the individual silversmith who constructed the goblet. The seam on the lower base is visible near the letter “D” of “DEM”. The four lower ball bases are of a two-piece construction, with a paper thin seam being just visible. The “Bruchmann” hallmarks can be clearly seen stamped on the reverse of the goblet’s base. The underside of the goblet has the raised seal for “Chef des Feldflugwesens” with the Prussian Eagle. The Goblet has developed a very attractive natural patina throughout. The Goblet’s base is a variant type, which is made of a black lacquered wood and bears a silvered plaque engraved with the name “Leutnant Heinrich Bongartz”. The top of the base has four small drilled depressions for the goblet’s base to rest on. The goblet does not rest in these four depressions perfectly, and has a slight wobble. The “Flugbuch”, or Flight Book, contains entries from Leutnant Bongartz, during his time at pilot training school in 1916. Also accompanying the set is a nice Postcard Portrait of Leutnant Bongartz, prior to him being awarded the Pour le Merit. It must be noted that because these World War One Honor Goblets do not bear the names of the recipient, like the second World War One Goblets do, it is nearly impossible to attribute this particular goblet, without rock solid provenance, to Leutnant Bongartz. Regardless, this is an extremely rare Imperial German Silver Honor Goblet, with Flight Book, to one of the highest scoring German aces of the war.
Historical Description: Pilots of the German Luftwaffe who had successes in aerial combat were awarded with a special non-portable award. This was a practice that began in WWI, with the institution of the “Ehrenbecher für den Sieger im Luftkampfe” (Honor Goblet for the Victor in Air Combat). This was a silver cup, initially presented to a pilot for his first aerial victory, although it is believed that as the war progressed, more victories were needed to earn this award. By the end of the war, only the certificates for the goblet were being issued. The total number of these goblets awarded during WWI is thought to be around 2,411. The practice of awarding goblets to pilots for aerial victories resumed in February 1940, when Hermann Göring introduced the “Ehrenpokal für besondere Leistung im Luftkrieg” (Honor Goblet for Outstanding Achievement in Air War). Over the course of the war, about 58,000 German pilots were entitled to the award, but only around 13,000-15,000 goblets were actually awarded. In WWII, the goblets were awarded to pilots and air crew who had already earned the Iron Cross 1st Class, but whose achievements had not yet earned them the German Cross or Knight’s Cross. This goblet was made in two versions, with the first pieces being made of fine silver; around March 1942 this was changed to “Neusilber” (German silver). These awards were prized by the men to whom they were awarded, and they are eagerly sought by collectors today.
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