New Estate Find: All Original Luftwaffe Pilot's Leather Jacket w/ Medals!

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by ColesAircraft, Jul 25, 2012.

  1. ColesAircraft

    ColesAircraft Member

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    Late last week I traveled to Akron to pick up what was left from an estate sale. I'd already purchased most of it previously, the aviation collection of the late George Pfromm - Vietnam Cobra pilot, DFC winner, and former FAA Special Agent - from his surviving younger brother. As he found things in storage (George died from lung cancer in 2002), he'd call me. This trip was for "an old pilot jacket" and some pictures. Compared to the aircraft control sticks and other sexy things I'd already bought, I wasn't expecting much from this small haul.

    When I arrived, he showed me the jacket, and I wrote it off as less than what I'd hoped for - it looked like a new reproduction piece with fake medals; a good Halloween costume. The pictures were nice: beautifully framed Stan Stokes autographed 'aces' prints. I offered $150 for everything and he accepted. Then later I took a second look at the jacket, and my knees started to feel weak.

    While the leather appeared almost brand new, all of the zippers and snaps were correct for a wartime garment. The Burberry lining was also correct. I removed the badges and . . . the pilot's badge was hallmarked by BSW, one of the best wartime makers and based in Austria. The Iron Cross 1st Class was authentic, too. All the stitching for the breast eagle and Oberst boards matched. There was even a period safety pin with Wehrmacht buttons 'Jerry rigged' to the breast pocket zipper - presumably to open and close it while wearing gloves!

    It's authentic - all of it! So, here are some pictures:

    [​IMG]
    Authentic Luftwaffe WWII Oberst Fighter Pilot's Leather Jacket, Iron Cross 1st Class by ColesAircraft, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    IMG_2102 by ColesAircraft, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    IMG_2103 by ColesAircraft, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    IMG_2176 by ColesAircraft, on Flickr


    Needless to say, I'm amazed. I just wish, as a professional dealer, that I could justify keeping it for myself!

    It actually fits me perfectly!

    [​IMG]
    Authentic Luftwaffe WWII Pilot's Leather Jacket by ColesAircraft, on Flickr


    Ron Cole
    Cole's Aircraft
     
  2. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    Well, when I saw the lining, I had some doubts but will defer to your judgement since I'm no expert in these matters. Congratulations on your purchase!
     
  3. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Do you have a picture of the lining?
     
  4. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    #4 DerAdlerIstGelandet, Jul 25, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2012
    I would not be able to tell for sure, as I can only see the pics, but I would be skeptical about that jacket. The reason being is the lining. I have never seen a lining on an original Luftwaffe Jacket like that. The ones that I have seen were always a solid color, like the original one in the link below.

    Item #

    Of course it could be a tailor made one, like I said, I can not really tell from the pictures.

    Like I said, I am skeptical. As a collector of original 3rd Reich Uniforms, I would be interested in seeing more pictures of the linings and more detailed pictures of the badges, including the markings.
     
  5. Oreo

    Oreo Member

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    Very nice find.
     
  6. Oreo

    Oreo Member

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    So even if the jacket itself were not original, the medals and stuff-- how about them?
     
  7. ColesAircraft

    ColesAircraft Member

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    I was skeptical too, and I initially wrote it off completely - as I said - and the lining was part of the reason. I've been posting these images over on another forum (Wehrmacht-Awards) and have had consistent positive feedback with quite a few specifics, and have been sharing these images with several colleagues. I am surprised, certainly, that it has so far been checking out. Here are some more photos:

    [​IMG]
    IMG_2177 by ColesAircraft, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    IMG_2179 by ColesAircraft, on Flickr

    It was actually suggested to me that this jacket is typical of an example manufactured in occupied France with German-made zippers and snaps. The same source advised that the "Burberry" lining was "typical" of such a garment, and would be devoid of manufacture's tags. This jacket has no markings or tags inside of it at all, which is a good thing. Usually a reproduction jacket tries too hard to look 'right' by including date or military stamps, any of which would be red flags here. But it is true that these jackets, by themselves anyway, are notoriously hard to authenticate. They were private purchases, adhered to no regulation cut, and were made by a hundred different makers in half-a-dozen different countries.

    RC
     
  8. ColesAircraft

    ColesAircraft Member

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    [​IMG]
    IMG_2105 by ColesAircraft, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    IMG_2104 by ColesAircraft, on Flickr


    Here we have a "textbook example" of a BSW made pilot's badge that, by itself, it worth more than the jacket without it. The eagle's beak is a bit worn, but it's otherwise very nice. BSW badges are indeed the maker most often copied by the better forgers - but the fakes are not perfect. Only the real 'made in Austria' BSW, for example, used the rectangular bar pin inside the clap's hinge tube. +1 for this baby! :)
     
  9. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    I am not sold on the jacket itself. But like I said, with pictures I can't tell.
     
  10. ColesAircraft

    ColesAircraft Member

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    #10 ColesAircraft, Jul 25, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2012
    I'd personally go so far as to say, were it not for its provenance and associated authentic elements - it'd be impossible to unquestionably verify that the jacket alone was of wartime manufacture and therefore "authentic". I say that primarily because such is the case with every one of these jackets ever encountered - some more than others - since there is absolutely no difference between a jacket such as this produced in, say, 1943 versus an identical coat made in 1951. Having all of the correct wartime Zipp zippers and PRYM snaps can seperate some fakes from potentially authentic pieces, but both PYRM and Zipp continued making zippers and snaps for decades after the war - PYRM still does! But a garment like this cannot be discounted for having a different lining, either, as there is no lining that was ever standard issue. At worst, we have here a very old leather jacket with very old German-made zippers and snaps - and one that happens to be affixed with unquestionably WWII-era Luftwaffe badges. A lining makes it perhaps unusual, but not wrong.

    Of course, last week I was with you! I wasn't "sold" on it either!
     
  11. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    Be great if it is authentic, it does look in incredibly good (almost 'too' good) condition though. (I'm no expert though)

    If you are convinced it's original, why not hang onto it? One day you'll retire from the business, and such a thing would be a fantastic memento.
     
  12. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Very cool!
     
  13. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Agreed, especially considering the guy was willing to part with it fir $150, when the normally sell in the $1000s of dollars.
     
  14. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    But it does look cool!
     
  15. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    I would grab a copy of M. Prodgers work on LW flying clothing ASAP to be sure. I fully well understand private purchase garments as it could be likely. to have a full bird colonels is not nor is the inner lining look original but again grab a copy of the book I mentioned. because of cost it is probably more un likely even with WAF members of which I am one that anyone can tell you it is original or not for they having possibly one such garment under mint type conditions. at any rate what a conversation piece and I hope it is all original for your case................a truly marvelous period piece if so.
     
  16. Rogi

    Rogi Active Member

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    Its cool, you should keep it for yourself, you had said you weren't expecting anything "big" out of the purchase. This would be a nice piece to tell your kids down the line when you pass it on :) and seriously if its all legit 150 is a bargain :D

    Keep it, final answer :D

    For me it'd be like finding a Patek Phillip mint at a local garage sale for 150 bucks, when its worth much much more. That was the first thought that poped into my head :D, sorry watch nut here :)
     
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