Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wester Bothers Gentleman's Pen Knife, pre-WW2, Solingen, Germany, Wester und Butz,

This last weekend Sweet Pea and I stopped at a couple of yard sales while we were out running errands.  One of these sales was filled with fantastic stuff.  Sweet Pea picked up an Orient & Flume art glass figurine and I bought a beautiful, German, gentleman's pen knife.  The woman who was having the sale was selling off a bunch of her Great Aunt's things that she inherited and no longer wanted.  Glad we stopped!

The knife that I picked up is a small, thin knife that was designed to carry in your suit pants pocket.  When I first picked it up, I immediately recognized the old world craftsmanship and finish work, old steel blades and nickel side plates.  A VERY well made and finished knife.  I knew it must be pre-WW2 at least.  A little on-line research proved even better than that.

Wester Brothers was the sole US representative of the German Knife maker Wester & Butz of Solingen, Germany.  The company was in business from 1902 until 1967.  Production in Germany was stopped when WW1 broke out with the US in 1914 and all production was switched over to US contractors from 1914 through 1918, and again during the WW2 years of 1941 through 1945.  This knife is marked  "Germany", which would date the knife as pre-WW1, or between WW1 and WW2.  Based on the craftsmanship, finish, and appearance of the metals, I personally would date the knife as pre-WW1.  The blade is also marked with the Wester Brothers "Anchor, Star and Arrow" stamp. It has the two classic pen knife blades and a pick-file that is trapezoid in cross profile.

Here are a few more pictures of this wonderful, little knife:

Monday, June 27, 2011

1943 Steel Lincoln Cent, 1943 Silver Alloy Jefferson Nickel, 1941 Lincoln Cent

Today I have a handful of WW2 vintage US coins to show off.  On Saturday, Sweet Pea and I stopped by our local bank and our favorite teller had a surprise for us........ she knows that we love old coins and she pulls out old wheat pennies and other old US coins our of her cash drawer and saves them for us when we come in.  Well, when we stopped by on Saturday, she had a handful of 1943 steel Lincoln Cents!  As a little extra, she also had a 1943 S Jefferson Nickle and a 1941 Lincoln Cent for us.  A true treasure haul!

So here's what makes the steel Lincoln Cents so unique.  In 1943, the United States was running short of metals for use on the home front, they were all being diverted to the war effort.  The US Mint decided to experiment with a steel penny that was coated in zinc....... the 1943 Steel Lincoln Cent was born.  The steel pennies were a flop.  The public disliked them because they were easy to confuse with the silver dimes and they would not work in vending machines.  The vending machines of the 1940's had magnets installed to keep people from using steel "slugs" to cheat the machines. The magnets would grab the steel pennies...... a real problem in 1943 when a penny could actually buy something!  The steel pennies also tended to rust in your pants pockets!  As an interesting side note, about 40 copper 1943 pennies were accidentally produced (that's forty!).  There were a few copper blanks still in the minting press when the 1943 steel penny run was started, making the 1943 copper penny one of the rarest pennies ever produced!    A 1943 Copper penny sold in 1996 for $82,500 !!!!

The Jefferson Nickels that were produced during the war years, 1941-1945, also are a bit unique.  Due to the war time shortages of nickel, the US Mint changed the alloy in the Jefferson Nickel to 56% copper, 35% silver and 9% manganese.  These are the only nickels that are a silver alloy.  With the prices of silver today, these nickel are worth around $3.00 just in the melt value of the metals.

The 1941 Lincoln Cent is a 95% copper, 5% zinc alloy coin.  This coin is not particularly valuable as they made a lot of pennies in 1941, but it is worth several times its face value because of the copper content.

Here are a few more photos of this treasure trove of war time coins:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wehrmacht Truppenfahrrad, WW2 German Wehrmacht Bicycles on the Russian Front

While doing my usual research into vintage military bicycles, I came across some amazing photos that were taken by a German Soldier serving as a motorcycle courier with the Wehrmacht on the Russian Front, during WW2.  Great candid shots of the soldiers and their bikes................

Here are the photos:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bundesgrenzschutz First Aid Card for Medics & Stretcher Bearers, Sanitätdienst Hilfskrankenpfleger und Hilfskrankenträger

Here is the latest addition to the ever growing collection of Bundesgrenzschutz items in my collection.  I recently received this Bundesgrenzschutz First Aid Card from a friend in Berlin.

The card is new and unissued, with the print date of 1984 (10/84).  It identifies a member of the BGS as a medic and stretcher bearer and authorizes them to wear the red cross armband when carrying out their First Aid duties.  I believe that it says that the person named on the card is temporarily in the BGS Medical Division when acting as a medic or stretcher bearer.
Here's another shot of the card with a metric ruler below it to show the actual size: 

I believe that a red cross arm band was won over the uniform sleeve when working as a medic or stretcher bearer. Here is a link to a friend's website that shows one of these original BGS armbands:
bundesgrenzschutz sanitätsdienst

And to close out this posting, here are a couple of archive photos of one of the old Bundesgrenzschutz field ambulances and an "action shot" of the BGS medics in action:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Vintage Military Vehicle Show at Fort Worden, June 17-19, 2011

This last weekend the 5th annual Vintage Military Vehicle show, hosted by the West Sound Military Vehicle Preservation Club , was held out at the historic Fort Worden State Park here in Port Townsend.  I had great plans to bring the Bundesgrenzschutz bicycle out to the show, but it ended up raining and drizzling for nearly the entire weekend!  Sweet Pea and I did make it out for a short visit on Sunday.......... between the rain showers........

There were a number of great vehicles on display........ not a big show, but a good one.  Now without further delay, here's a quick photo tour of the vehicles:

1942 White,  US Army Model 2A1 Halftrack

1943 Ford,  Model GTBC "Burma Jeep",  USN Bomb Service Truck

1942 Ford.  Model GPW Jeep,  US Army

Willys Jeep,  Model 38A1,  US Army

Dodge,  Model 37 Cargo Truck,  US Army

1943 Rock Island Arsenal,  Model 3A4 Ammo/Utility Cart,   US Army

Model 37 Cargo Truck and Trailer,  US Army

And now for the final "Jeep" shot.......... Here's Sweet Pea and the Pugs in our Jeep, swinging by to pick me up from the show!