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This is a Lovely World War I United States Air Service Junior Military Aeronaut aka Balloon Pilot Wing in Mess Dress or Cap Size by Dan Dunham of San Antonio, Texas. By 1918 style was generally moving away from the "Dallas" type wing to the earliest one-piece wings, so we can safely estimate the manufacture date of this wing to be 1918.
The small size points to either a "Mess Dress" wear on one's tuxedo or full dress uniform, or for wear on a VERY fancy overseas cap. The presence of the original woven wool backing points more towards the former than the latter.
Every aspect of this wing is iconic Dunham, from the faux bullion US (worn or poorly cast, but under magnification one can see that the US definitely was made to mimic an embroidered US), to the diamond crisscross pattern on the balloon, to the classic Dunham wings.
Metallic Aeronaut wings from WWI are nearly impossible to find. I was able to purchase Two for Putnam back at the Campbell auction (not this one, although Cliff Presley told me that Duncan had one of these Mess Dress size Dunham Aeronaut wings), and then 15 years later I was able to onw them again, along with 2 others from Putnam's collection, but those are the only ones I've ever been able to track down. And this Mess Dress example is the ONLY one of this size I've owned or seen in-hand.
It is not pictured, but the wing comes with Putnam's own small collection tag stating that he paid $1500 for this wing, some 15 or 20 years ago.
A wonderful addition to any WWI Aviation, Balloon, or Wing collection.
Wing: Approximately 2-1/8" in length x 21/32" in height. Woven Wool Backing: approximately 2-3/8" in length x 7/8" in width.
MATERIALS / CONSTRUCTION:
Sterling silver & 14K gold, with sterling & nickel findings.
Horizontal pin with drop-in locking catch.
This is from a US Air Service Wing collection which we will be listing more of over the next few months. KBJJZ22 LFGIEX11/27/23
GUARANTEE: As with all my artifacts, this piece is guaranteed to be original, as described.