By Mike Kenny
The Schwerin produced Kriegsmarine High Seas Fleet War Badge is considered by many collectors to be the premier High Seas Fleet badge because of it's good detail and, for early tombak badges, high quality fire-gilt finish. This article provides the reader with a very detailed examination of the Schwerin High Seas Fleet (HSF) Badge, including die characteristics and interpreted flaws, interpreted die-wear with time, badge construction and finishing and maker's mark characteristics. For readability, an informal Type classification is introduced and used based on the observations discussed in the main text.
The main aim of this article is to carefully examine the characteristics of genuine Schwerin HSF badges so that the reader will not be fooled by any modern reproduction, some of which are also illustrated and briefly discussed. The author hopes that the reader will not be greatly distracted by the introductions of types, whether a specific feature is a die flaw or a die characteristic, or the author's interpretation of early versus late production badges.
A detailed study of seven (7) Schwerin HSF badges have been used as the basis of this article, comprising four (4) tombak and three (3) zinc examples. An eighth badge, a late addition to the study set of another tombak example, has been referenced in relevant sections. Numerous other images of genuine badges have been viewed by the author and, where appropriate, included to aid the discussion. No nickel-silver badges have been observed by the author. Given the institution date of the award (mid 1941), the author believes that nickel-silver versions of the badge are unlikely to have been produced, although the possibility of their existence cannot be totally discounted.
None of the badges in the study set can be documented as having been directly Kriegsmarine veteran acquired, although one badge allegedly came from the estate of a German veteran (Badge#2, the "Markgraf" named example) and the author has seen other examples, sharing the same characteristics as those in the study set, which have been attributable to German veterans. Careful examination of badges featured in references/articles by Angolia, Ailsby, Niemann and IMM (Issue #65), among others, indicates that all of these published examples also share the same characteristics as outlined below.
One main assumption has been carried throughout this discussion, being that the highest quality badges with the heaviest fire-gilding were the earliest produced and that the zinc badges were the last produced. The author would like to draw attention to the difference between when a badge may have been produced and when a badge may have been awarded, hence the possibility that some early badges may be obtained from veterans who received their awards mid-war or later. The main assumption is strongly supported by evidence of die deterioration and repair as discussed below. The actual number of production runs (batches) is unknown by the author, as is the number of badges per batch or the total number of High Seas Fleet badges produced by Schwerin.
The article is divided into sections for convenience, however the reader is strongly encouraged to start at the beginning and read through each section sequentially to avoid missing the introduction and explanation of important points. The sections are listed on the top-left menu.
For Bibliography please see the References and Credits page
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