Thank you very much for your interest in our products & services.  Were it not  for you, our customers, both current & prospective, we would not be in  business.  With the publication of this latest edition of our catalog, we have introduced many new items that will be described in detail in the pages that follow.  I hope you find these new items as exciting as we do.  As always, if there are any additional items or services you feel we should add, please do not hesitate to ask about them.  It is due to your requests that these new items are there.

·     First, it goes without saying that we stand 100% behind everything we offer.  We DO NOT subscribe to the business practice of  CAVEAT EMPTOR or “Let the buyer beware!”  We guarantee your satisfaction.  Should any item fail to meet or exceed your expectations, it can be returned within 21 days of shipment for a full refund or exchange, no questions asked.  The only exceptions to this are custom or special-order items.  Full details regarding our return policy regarding these items will be furnished when you contact us regarding them.   NOTE;  Refunds are for the total of the invoice, less shipping & handling and applicable taxes.

For any single items whose price exceeds $150.00, e.g., a vintage flight jacket or an original antique insignia, colors photos will be made available upon request to assist you in your decision whether or not to purchase the item or items in question.

Golden  Wings will not, under any circumstances, knowingly misrepresent any item we make available for sale.  If our description of an item indicates that it was made during a particular time period, that description and dating has been verified to the best of our ability to do so.  For example, we will never attempt to sell an item that is a reproduction of an original without clearly stating that the item is a reproduction.  If we describe a given item as an original, then it is, in fact, an original.

Many, if not most, dealers in insignia have items for sale that are, in fact, reproductions, and Golden Wings is certainly no exception.  The primary reasons for this are the scarcity & high cost of many vintage original items.  These factors tend place these items beyond the reach of many collectors.  Therefore, assuming a reputable dealer, an item’s price is an excellent indicator of whether a given article is an original or a reproduction.  To illustrate this point, the last original example of the insignia of Marine Fighting Squadron 223 from the World War II period I saw for sale at a militaria show was priced at more than $250.00.  Further, it had suffered some moth damage in the 50-plus years since it was made.  The reproduction of this design we offer for sale is priced at $8.50, and the back of the reproduction is sealed with a thin, semi-transparent plastic coating to protect the embroidery - something that would NEVER be found on any World War II original.

To further identify any reproduction we offer for sale, an upper-case R has been added to the end of the “Item No.” listing for all reproductions.  Also, the insignia themselves have an R approximately 5/8 In. in height marked on the back in permanent black ink to identify any reproduction as such..  Please note that this mark has been applied in such a manner that the ink cannot “bleed” through and be visible from the front.  In this way the “reproduction” marking cannot detract from the appearance of the item, but it will serve to protect an investment a collector has made in an original example of the same items.  Further, this marking will be universally applied to any reproduction that we may purchase from other dealers or manufacturers and to those items we may sell as wholesale to other dealers, not just to those we may have made to be sold exclusively by Golden Wings.

Since we have raised the subject of reproductions, it would be appropriate to define our interpretation of the term.  This is a subject upon which there may be considerable debate among collectors and dealers alike, and anyone should feel free to agree or disagree with the following definitions as they see fit.  They are offered simply to inform a reader of this catalog of the manner in which Golden Wings defines these terms.

With  regard to an embroidered insignia, if it was made after the demise of the unit that wore the insignia or after that unit changed its insignia design, a common occurrence among Navy & Marine Corps squadrons, it is a reproduction.  The same applies to metal wings or specialty badges that are no longer current issue.  Even if a maker has obtained the original dies and uses them to strike these devices, they are reproductions.

An insignia made prior to a unit’s demise or change of insignia is not considered to be reproduction, regardless of whether or not it actually passed through that unit’s hands.

Unit insignia, as opposed to rank/rate insignia, of the Navy or Marine Corps are not issued through the Navy supply system.  The individual units, commands or ships purchase their insignia from various sources that may or may not be approved government contractors.  Their insignia are both for their use and for sale to individuals.  From time to time, such a unit may elect to change their supplier for any of several reasons.  A change of supplier is one of the things that accounts for the usually minor differences seen among examples of the insignia of a given unit.  They are still authentic examples of the unit’s insignia.  Also,  due to cost considerations, insignia are often made outside the United States, and examples are required by law to have a label on them that identifies the country of origin.  Again, this does not mean the example is not authentic, and we do not differentiate between items made domestically and elsewhere where current insignia are concerned.

Pertaining to Naval Aviation, a squadron may, with the approval of the CNO, choose to adopt the insignia of a squadron from the past.  The current unit’s lineage may be traced to the original owner of the insignia, or it may have no connection whatsoever.  An example of this is the recently disestablished Fighter Squadron 111, “The Sundowners.”  The insignia of VF-111 was virtually identical to that of VF-11 of World War II.  VF-111 even adopted the earlier squadron’s nickname.  Neither squadron’s insignia carried its numerical designation as a part of the design.  As a result, it could be possible to mistake an example of the insignia of VF-111 for that of VF-11 without close examination.

In many ways, the same applies to Army and Air Force insignia.  Take, for example, the famed Indian  Head of the 2nd Infantry Division.  The division was activated in 1917 and continues to serve at the present time.  During its nearly 8 decades of service, the central portion of the design, an Indian warrior wearing a war bonnet on a white star, has remained virtually unchanged from the first use of the insignia.  From time to time, the shape, color & material of the background have changed, & that currently used, a black, 4-point shield has been in use since before World War II.  For  the last 20 + years, the entire insignia has been made of man-made materials.  Prior to that, natural fibers were used.  During World War II, insignia were usually embroidered on a backing of  khaki cotton twill, a thin border of which remained after the completed insignia was trimmed.  Later, these backing was changed to a dark material.  By examining a particular example of an insignia, a thin, but easily visible, border of  khaki twill identifies it as from the World War II period, while that of a dark material signifies manufacture between approximately 1947/48 through the mid-1960s.  But, back to the original question of what constitutes a reproduction, is an example of  this division’s insignia made of all man-made materials a reproduction of its World War II insignia or an example of those worn by its members today?  The choice is yours.

Where uniform items are concerned, the picture can be equally muddy.  Large items, such as shirts, trousers, blouses, flight jackets & the like that were issued through the military supply systems has a label inside that identifies the maker & the date of manufacture.  If it was made by a civilian contractor, the label should contain the contract number & date.  If it was made by a government agency, for example, the Naval Clothing Factory in Philadelphia, for years the only source of enlisted navy uniforms, the label should identify it as such.  For smaller items, this data was printed on a small slip of paper that was packed with the item in question.

This rather neat scenario becomes rather clouded when one considered “private purchase” uniform items.  For example, during World War II the tailor shop that could not reproduce a uniform to the prospective owner’s exact measurements was rare.  This practice of purchasing uniforms from a private tailor was more common among officers than enlisted personnel, but it was widespread among both.  Private purchase uniforms were often of a finer material than the issue item & generally fit better.  A private purchased uniform can be identified, with regard to period, only with some difficulty unless there is something else present to assist in this, such as an insignia, its positioning on the item or the like.

Frequently, government contractors who supply items such as flight jackets may elect to sell examples of their products in the civilian marketplace.  These items may be made to government specifications, & the materials used may be equal or superior to those supplied by that same manufacturer to the government, but they cannot, by law, have the government contract label in them.  Any such items that we way offer will be described as such.