Below is reproduced in full the chapter on Fake Nazi Daggers from Major Thomas M. Johnson's forth coming book. This is the firstin a long series of fakes and frauds reports to the MCA membershipfrom the FAKES and FRAUDS COMMITTEE of the MCA. This article is of such importance and so well written that it has not been edited. Any member who has even the slightest interest in Nazi daggers is greatly encouraged to buy Major Johnson's book as soon as possible. It may save you a great deal of money and grief in the long run. MCA wishes to thank Major Johnson for his kind permission in sending us this chapter from his book for publication in the JOURNAL prior to public dissemination. His support of the efforts of the Fakes and Frauds Committee is most gratifying.
REPRODUCTION NAZI EDGED WEAPONS AND HOW TO SPOT THEM
"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all ofthe people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the peopleall the time." — Abraham Lincoln
The response to an early request for suggested subject matter for this reference has been gratifying. Siphoning through the plethora of requests and comments, one subject stands out-reproduction Nazi edged weapons and how to spot them! Any collector who has undergone the unfortunate experience of spending hard-earned dollars for a 'super rare' Third Reich edged weapon which subsequently turned out to be a phony is understandably anxious to preclude making the same mistake again. Unfortunately, unscrupulous dealers and collectors abound and very few sizeable collections are completely void of any phony pieces.
This chapter will not delve into specific reproduction mistakes made for each particular model Third Reich edged weapon. This subject area is vast and warrants a separate reference book in itself. Two preliminary efforts dealing specifically with reproduction Nazie dged weapon models are a paperback pamphlet published in England by R. McFarlane in July, 1969, entitled, Bluebook of Identification of Reproduction Nazi Edged Weapons, and a section devoted to the subject in Major Jack Angolia s latest book on edged weapons entitled, Edged Weaponry of the Third Reich.
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The theme of this chapter will be to provide the researcher/collector with some general guidelines which will serve him well in attempting to identify counterfeit pieces. Albeit, there is absolutely no substitute for experience in examining edged weapons,there do exist several reproduction indicators that will serve even the beginner well. Usually the individual with the inherent facility to never be 'taken' by a reproduction edged weapon is the same individual who has been an ardent collector and researcher for many years. The correlation between years of experience and probability of being duped is obviously not due to chance alone. The reproduction indicators discussed below will be referred to as 'red flags' because, hopefully, each will serve to mentally raise a red flag in the collector's mind prior to engaging in a bad purchase. Once one or more red flags listed below have been identified, it is recommended that the particular piece in question not be purchased. Although not necessarily a certainty, the item is more than likely a reproduction. In this field of collecting, it is much better to be too cautious than not cautious enough!
1. New Appearance. The vast majority of edged weapon reproductions. on the market today appear to have been manufactured within the past few weeks (and might well have been!). Quite frankly, thirty years of age will tend to leave some telltale signs, regardless of the care and storage means utilized. When examining a piece, look at the screw heads. Are they bright, shiny, and completely free of any dirt or corrosion? Inspect the small leather washer under the crossguard (if one is available). If it appears as new as the leather on a belt that you just purchased, proceed with caution. Take a flashlight and have a close look at the inside of the scabbard throat. If all the internal parts appear to have been made earlier in the month, they probably were! Unfortunately, this new appearance indicator will not stand alone, as some unscrupulous individuals have discovered such devious means as burying, soaking in urine, etc., to purposely "age"reproduction pieces. Keep in mind that old appearance alone is no guarantee of authenticity.
2. Misfitting Parts. To state that German quality control is usually superior would probably be the understatement of the year. The meticulous quality control exercised by the Germans in the manufacture of automobiles, cameras, etc., is held in esteem the world over. The fact that Third Reich weapon quality control was superior is evidenced by the recent reproductions manufactured in the United States, Spain,England, etc., being no match for the originals. Thus, be wary of any misfitting parts. For example, if an SA dagger wooden grip bears large gaps between the handle and the crossguard, rest assured that it never would have left the factory. Likewise, an SA eagle and swastika grip insignia that rests in an indentation much too large to accommodate it should definitely raise a red flag. In general, be on the lookout for crudeness in manufacture and/or fit of component parts. Also take the time to include exact dagger dimensions in your edged weapons reference library. Numerous reproductions have grossly inaccurate dimensions. A previously unpublished blueprint of the original SA dagger dimensions was furnished to the author by well known edged weapon collector/author John Ormsby and is reproduced in this chapter. The credit for the talented art work goes to Mr. Frank Quinn of Chicago, Illinois.
3. Unmarked Interior Parts. If the edged weapon that you are examining lends itself for disassembly, carefully take it apart and scrutinize the interior component parts. Take the time to learn what markings, if any, should be evident. For example, did you realize that the inside of both TENO EM grips should be marked with the familiar Eickhorn squirrel trademark? The tangs of several different model dagger blades were carefully marked with the manufacture's initials and/or mark. Often each component part was stamped with a corresponding serial number vis-a-vis the Diplomatic and Government Official's daggers. Take the time to learn what to look for when you disassemble a particular model sidearm.
4. Unusual Variations. With the ever-increasing escalation of Third Reich prices, a multitude of 'one-of-a-kind prototypes' are finding their way into the market. While some of these pieces are indeed authenic prototypes, a 'non-documented' prototype should be approached with a great deal of caution. The vast majority of "prototype" Nazi daggers being offered for sale today are reproductions, and since the prototype pieces demand top dollar, insist upon comlete documentation prior to the purchase of one. Suggested procedures for edged weapon documentation is the subject of another chapter. Fortunately, the majority of the various Solingen Waffenfabriken sales catalogs survived the war and represent a collector's primary reference source. A tedious search of all reference sources available should be made prior to the outlay of huge sums of money for unusual variations or prototype pieces.
5. Faulty Engraving. Like the previous indicator, the premium prices sought for Third Reich edged weapons bearing engraved blades have opened the flood gates for reproduction engraved bayonets, daggers, and swords. Not only are complete blades currently being manufactured, but unscrupulous dealers and collectors are resorting to having the local jeweler engrave crossguards, scabbard fittings, etc., with fictitious (and sometimes actual) German names and units. Advice on the engraving issue would be two-fold; first, study the engraving style, depth, etc., of known original pieces. More times than not, the local jeweler's version is completely 'foreign' to the characteristic German patterns utilized during the war years. Second, resort to the original Waffen-fabrik sales catalogs to ascertain if a particular standard engraved blade pattern was in fact a product of the manufacturing firm in question.
6. Incorrect Proofmarks. The size of the edged weapons factories during WWII ranged from mammoth corporations to small 'cottage-craft' shops operated in the rear of Solingen homes. Obviously, each individual firm did not manufacture the entire plethoric gamut of Third Reich sidearms. In some cases, a single firm designed a particular model dagger and application for a patent was made. The blade was then stamped GES.GESCH. (Patent Pending). Prime examples of patented model designs are the TENO Officer and Enlisted daggers by the Carl Eickhorn firm. Even the more common models were often restricted to several selected manufacturers. Armed with extensive knowledge of which firms produced which sidearms, the wise collector can rapidly eliminate a number of phony pieces bearing incorrect proofmarks. For example, how many of the readers of this chapter could accurately consolidate a list of the only Solingen factories to produce Naval daggers for the Reich? The completed list should look like this -Alcoso, Clemen und Jung, Eickhorn, Holler, Horster, Krebs, Lauterjung, Luneschloss, Pack, Plumacher, Puma, Max Weyersburg, Paul Weyersburg, Winger, and WKC.
7. Incorrect Accouterments. An excellent red flag source is the accompanying accouterments to a particular sidearm. Although it is obvious that hangers, frogs, and knots are interchangeable and are often switched on authentic pieces, the reverse is usually true with reproductions. Most 'repros' are manufactured complete to include the accompanying leather or fabric accouterments. Thus, the wary collector is provided with yet another invaluable red flag source. When examining accouterments, make a careful inspection of the inside of leather items. Does the natural leather and thread stitching exhibit thirty years of aging? If all of the known original standard bayonet frogs that you have observed were constructed of smooth leather, and you are offered the 'opportunity' to purchase one constructedof pebbled leather - BEWARE! Check the condition and wear of the portepee/knot. Does it appear to be recently manufactured? One final word of caution, some unscrupulous dealers will add authentic trappings to a reproduction sidearm in order to avoid this particularred flag. Thus, one should not attempt to let this indicator stand alone, but utilize it in conjunction with the previously mentioned indicators.
8. Incorrect Factory Markins. Should you be fortunate enough to acquire a factory new (unissued) piece, compare the manufacturer name listed on the cardboard issue tag and/or paper shipping bag with theRZM code or proofmark engraved on the blade. Obviously, if the piece is unaltered, the manufacturer name listed on the tag and shipping bag should be the same company whoose RZM number or proofmark appearson the blade. SA daggers have been observed recently having WMW (Waffenfabrik Max Weyersberg) paper issue tags affixed to the upper scabbard fitting ring and RZM numbers of manufacturers other than WMW on the blades.
9. Non-existent Models. Unscrululous dealers have gone as far as to promote a demand for “original" Third Reich blades which never even existed under the Reich! The best example of this fraudulent effort is the brass Eickhorn Schutzstaffell (SS) pocket knife which has recently made its entry into the marketplace. These spurious SS knives are presently being manufactured in England and are 100% reproductions. Interesting enough, this particular fake has been manufactured with built-in aging and appears to be original in all respects. However,as mentioned in the discussion of the first indicator above, 'aging’ can be accomplished by artificial means. The wholesale price of these knives from the manufacture is only a few dollars each. However, since research indicates that this piece never existed and is a complete reproduction, its true value is much less than even the wholesale price. As a matter of fact, strictly from a collector's standpoint, this item is worthless and only tends to mar an authentic collection of Third Reich edged weapons.
In conclusion, the adoption of three general "rules of thumb" for collecting Third Reich edged weapons is recommended. First and foremost, become a student of the subject. Do not rely on gun show talk and the opinions of other collectors to educate yourself. Learn the facts for yourself. The best way to begin is to build yourself a large reference lebrary on the subject. The limited amount of published works in this field will preclude the price of a fine library from becoming prohibitive. Many collectors have made the unwise Statement, "I would much prefer to allocate the $15 pricetag of a current reference book toward the purchase of a good dagger." The truth of the matter is that the $15 expended for a good reference book might repeatedly preclude throwing away sizeable sums of money on bad daggers. The quote at the beginning of Chapter 2 by Benjamin Franklin is indeed apropos, e.g., "If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest." Attempt to augment your current reference books with as many original Solingen sales catalogs as you can obtain. These catalogs have the distinct advantage of depicting only original materials, whereas a few reproduction pieces, unfortunately, grace the pages of most of the current reference books. Copies of the original catalogs and reprints of several catalogs are available from various dealers.
The second rule of thumb pertains to the subject of dealers (or sources). Find one whom you can trust explicitly and direct your total business his way. The integrity of Third Reich edged weapons dealers (and collectors) in this country and abroad runs the gamut from beyond reproach to totally unscrupulous. Fortunately, the hobby is small enough that a few fast inquiries to other collectors will usually distinguish the dealers and collectors to avoid. Those dealers or collectors who have sold reproductions for genuine pieces will be rapidly identfied!
A third general rule of thumb which will serve you well is if you have any reservations about the authenticity of a particular edged weapon, leave it alone. Psychologists refer to this uncertainty discomfort as "cognitive dissonance". Obviously, the dissonance may occur before or after the actual purchase, but much better for the purchaser if the dissonance is initiated early by one or more 'redflags', thus negating the purchase. An honest collector will readily admit that the vast majority of his 'maybes' turned out to be repros. Conversely, if you should see an item for sale at a show, in a shop, or on a dealer’s list, that appears to be original and would fill a soughtafter hole in your collection, do not procrastinate. A common sign to be found in antique shops is, "The best time to buy an antique is NOW. If you wait, it will be gone!" The same rationale is certainly true of WWII edged weapons. Every attempt, humanly possible, has been made to preclude a single reproduction piece from appearing in this reference, except for photographs appearing in this chapter on reproductions.
William J. Ringler, JOURNAL, Military Collectors Association, C.1975