Product Description: This is a lovely example of the rare first pattern Juncker pilots badge, known to collectors as the J1 Pilots Badge. The Juncker produced pilots badges were arguably the best made during the Third Reich, and are certainly among the most desirable. The J1 pilots badge is characterized by a thinner wreath, compared to later examples. It also utilizes a unique early eagle pattern. These badges were made from 1936 to about 1939, and feel more like pieces of jewelry, than typical badges. This early pattern is harder to find than the later Juncker pieces, and is one of the most desirable patterns in the Juncker pilots badge family. This J1 pilots badge is made of nickel silver and is in excellent condition overall. It shows some wear, especially to the high points on the front, and appears to have actually been worn. It is completely uncleaned, and has developed a very attractive, deep patina over time. The reverse features textbook Juncker rivets that remain nice and tight. The typical Juncker hardware, with barrel hinge and wire pin and catch, is completely intact, unrepaired, and functional. The pen has a slight bend. The reverse of the eagle bears the expected (and desirable) maker stamping, “C. E. Juncker, Berlin S.O.” This J1 pilots badge is an untouched early gem with character.
Historical Description: The Luftwaffe Pilots Badge was instituted by Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring on August 12, 1935. It was among the earliest badges introduced in the German Wehrmacht, and was worn by all qualified pilots in the German Air Force, similar to the “wings” worn by some other armies. The design of the badge featured a large, swooping eagle clutching the German national swastika emblem, surrounded by a wreath of oak and laurel leaves. The badge was normally presented in a blue hinged case. It was worn on the upper left uniform pocket, and a cloth version was also authorized for field use. In the nearly ten years from the introduction of this badge, to the end of WWII, the manufacturers of these awards made many changes in the features of the designs. Some companies, like Juncker, Assmann, and Deumer, had early first pattern badges which looked completely different from later pieces by the same manufacturers. Pilots badges were made of aluminum, nickel silver, plated Tombak, and zinc. The eagle was always a separate piece, riveted to the wreath, with different manufacturers using different rivet designs. As the war progressed, and dies wore out, many makers produced badges with subtle changes. All of these changes over time open up a large spectrum of variation collecting for Luftwaffe badge collectors.
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