How were the NSDAP party badges manufactured?
Alright friends, I have a barrage of questions and I'm hoping to get a good discussion going on here for those who enjoy learning every tiny detail. I've done my research, and will post what I have learned thus far.
This thread could theoretically include any and all enamel and painted zinc badges of the era, including the HJ and Austrian badges.
-My basic understanding of the enamel badges is that a base metal blank planchet was stamped with a heavy die. (I had a photo of the dies, but I can't find it now.) Then the struck planchet was cleaned up, "Cloisonné" glass enamel was applied, other polishing techniques came next, then the pin was soldered on.
-The zinc badges: everything the same except paint instead of enamel.
-My questions on the badges are:
1. How was the enamel applied? Is it actually made of glass?
2.Did each individual badge have a worker spending time doing a lot of hand machining and finishing?
3.Was there a factory of workers (slaves even?) with tiny paintbrushes in their steady hands applying red, white, and black paint?
4. What metals were the enamel badges made of? I imagine brass, but I'm not entirely sure.
5. Why not make an enamel zinc badge?
Thanks for reading everyone
04-22-2014 08:30 PM
The enamel is applied by hand. It is crushed glass powder and water that is fired and cooled. I think zinc would melt before the glass would.
I believe that most or all of the early enameled badges were made of brass or German silver.
Great questions. I can only answer what I know
1) Yes, glass. Glass was poured into the recesses of the Party badge. Think of a syringe injecting enamel or being poured by spout.
2) Each badge was handled for finishing. To rid the planchette of the stamping excesses and to polish the glass. And yes, they were painted by hand either completely or finished after a machine applied paint in other cases.
3) I cannot say if "slaves" did any work regarding Party badges but will say no such labor existed no earlier than 1934. And, do remember the NSDAP was banned in Austria in 1933 and many badges existed before this date. There was no "work force" of this sort until mid 1930's in Germany. After the Anschluss, Austrian makers began to produce Party badges again and work was subcontracted, so perhaps then, forced labor may have existed for Austrian makers. Most Party badge makers were small firms/jewelry makers, and cottage maker type firms. I speculate only subcontracted work may have been forced labor but doubt it. Pforzheim, the Golden City, was responsible for most subcontracting work and much of Germany's industry. So it's quite possible forced labor existed here. Nobody attempted to answer these questions so maybe someone can correct me if I'm wrong.
4) Iron, zinc (several different quality types), brass, nickel/silver. Perhaps more I'm not aware of.
5) Zinc by nature is an inferior metal used in the final years of the TR. Use of zinc implies lesser quality and rushed process. Enamel is a time and cost consuming process. It's funny that you ask because there are good quality metal painted badges. Some enameled badges have what appears to be zinc but this is not my strong suit, so I don't have an answer.
I'm not sure what temperature was used for firing the enamel, but I do know that pure zinc has a much lower melting point (around 800 degrees Fahrenheit) than brass (about 1700 Fahrenheit).
Jo Rivett would probably be the one to ask, as he has done, probably the most analysis's and investigating on the manufacturing process of German small badges of anyone that I can think of. He literally wrote the book on it...
"Much that once was, is lost. For none now live who remember it."
yes agreed there, shame we done have his input on the online forums anymore, not just here but everywhere, a big loss for sure imho!
Thanks to everyone for the replies. Interesting to know how much hand work went into these pieces. Now I can understand why all of the differences exist, both small and large, between different badges.
I had already heard of Jo Rivett from the research I did before posting this thread. I have his book 'bookmarked' to be purchased some day.
Jo Rivett actually sent me an email a day or two ago regarding this thread and answered every question with a lot of great information. Wasn't expecting to hear from him, but glad I did.
Just curious why we don't have his input on the forum anymore?