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A Classification of Minesweeper Badges based on obverse design

Article about: Adrian suggested that I post here the latest version of my classification system for Kriegsmarine Minesweeper Badges based upon obverse design characteristics. Since I specialize in the Mine

  1. #1

    Default A Classification of Minesweeper Badges based on obverse design

    Adrian suggested that I post here the latest version of my classification system for Kriegsmarine Minesweeper Badges based upon obverse design characteristics.

    Since I specialize in the Minesweeper Badge and its many makers and variations, I came up with this system a couple of years ago and posted it on the internet on WAF and GCA. Hubert K. (Bubba_Z), another Minesweeper enthusiast, compiled the first table of variants based on my classification system, and since then I’ve modified and expanded it to its current form.

    While printed publications are still an important reference source, the internet is a great way to organize and disseminate up-to-date information to the collecting community. As well, it’s thanks to the internet collecting community that so much raw data were available to make this research possible so I’m happy to give back and keep our collective knowledge growing!

    Introduced on August 31, 1940, the Kriegsabzeichen für Minensuch-, U-Boots-Jagd- and Sicherungsverbände was the badge produced in largest quantity during the war. This first post includes the summary table of 86 Minesweeper Badge variants from some 22 manufacturers grouped into 5 major categories. The classification system will be explained in the subsequent postings.

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    Last edited by Norm F; 02-19-2012 at 09:24 PM.

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  3. #2

    Default Pre-amble

    Just as has been done with Heer badges in other venues, it’s possible to group KM Minesweeper badges into categories based on their obverse design. This is a useful exercise, as it often suggests possible working relationships between manufacturers, or possibly indicates that they used dies derived from a common master die or die producer. Within each of the major categories, the individual manufacturers can be separated out by small differences in obverse details, trimming outlines, hardware and finishing techniques.

    It’s quite possible that the badges within each major category represent the output from a common Matrix (master die, “Matrize” in German), or at least are based upon copies of a sample master design. As discussed in other threads on the forums, from any given “Matrize”, many working dies (“Stanzen”) can be made and custom hand-altered before they are hardened. A hardened "Stanze" is used to strike the actual badges, which are then trimmed and finished according to each manuacturer’s method. The trimming stamps are called “Schnittwerkzeuge”, or cutting tools, and vary slightly between manufacturers.

    So for this system, I’ve divided the Minesweeper Badge output into 5 basic categories based on the number and pattern of the waves under the water plume; the first 4 categories contain badges in both Tombak and zinc, whereas the 5th category contains exclusively zinc badges.

  4. #3

    Default The 5 categories

    First, I'll define the 5 categories and show the wave patterns from the Tombak members in each of the first four, some of which were also produced in zinc. Later I'll show the exclusively zinc badges by category, including the fifth zinc-only category. Here we go!

    The 5 categories are as follows:

    Type 1: 7-wave “Schwerin-type” – 5 badges
    Type 2: 8-wave “Juncker-type” – 13 badges
    Type 3: 8-wave “RK-type” – 2 badges
    Type 4: 9.5-wave “Hymmen” (unique)
    Type 5: 7 or 7.5 "straight wave" - 2 badges (from different masters but stylistic similarity, and occur only in zinc)

    After practicing a bit, it’s easy to identify a badge’s category by counting the waves as in the attached image, and noting the small areas outlined in types 2 and 3. Note how the area marked with the curved red lines in type 2 occurs between waves 5 and 6, whereas the similar area in type 3 lies between waves 4 and 5, occurring higher up in the badge.
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  5. #4

    Default The Tombak makers by category

    Here is a list of the 14 makers of Tombak Minesweepers by category (of which 9 also produced versions in zinc):

    Type 1: 7-wave “Schwerin-type”:

    *C. Schwerin & Sohn - Berlin (always marked)
    *Wilhelm Deumer - Lüdenscheid (2 reverse setups in Tombak, both marked and unmarked, and 1 in zinc)
    F.W. Assmann & Söhne – Lüdenscheid (always marked)
    Friedrich Linden, (FLL) - attributed – Lüdenscheid (always unmarked)
    Richard Simm & Söhne, (RSS) – Gablonz (always marked)

    Type 2: 8-wave “Juncker-type”:

    *C.E. Juncker - Berlin (always unmarked)
    *Paul Meybauer – Berlin (always unmarked)
    Boerger & Co., (Beco) – Berlin (marked)
    *Steinhauer & Lück - Lüdenscheid (both marked and unmarked in Tombak)
    Petz & Lorenz – Pforzheim (unmarked)
    *Otto Schickle - Pforzheim (unmarked but a few marked by other makers’ LDO numbers)

    Type 3: 8-wave “RK-type”:

    *"AS in triangle" - Gablonz (always unmarked in Tombak; zinc is both marked and unmarked, 1st pattern eagle always unmarked, 2nd pattern eagle both marked and unmarked)
    *R.K. – Gablonz (always marked, some 9-wave variants in the zinc version)

    Type 4: 9.5-wave “Hymmen”:

    *Hymmen & Co. - Lüdenscheid (both marked and unmarked)

    * = also made in zinc (9 makers)

  6. #5

    Default Type 1 makers

    Type 1: 7-wave “Schwerin-type”:

    You can see the same wave pattern as Schwerin, here used by the other makers in this category, but each with their own modification to the eagle; The RSS eagle is quite a bit more distinctive from the others. These makers' badges may be derived from a copy of the Schwerin wave design rather than a modified die from the same Matrize, but nevertheless clearly belong in this general category.
    (Sometimes the overlap in the finish between frosted plume, altsilber waves and gilded wreath can make it a little tricky to count the waves.)
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  7. #6

    Default Type 2 makers

    Type 2: 8-wave “Juncker-type”:

    This wave pattern is by far the most common obverse design, used not only by these 6 Tombak makers but also by at least 6 other exclusively zinc makers. This may be similar to the situation in the Heer badge collector community when they speak of the "Vienna design", although it's clear that in the Minesweeper production the design did not originate in the city of Vienna whose minesweepers occur only in the later war zinc.

    In fact, most of these look like they may be derived from the same Matrize, as their eagle designs are almost identical. The two eagles that show a subtle but clear uniqueness are those on the unmarked Juncker and Meybauer badges.

    Nevertheless, each maker had his own trimming tooling resulting in characteristic inner and outer outlines that allow us to tell them apart (along with other clues such as hardware and finishing).

    All these badges have the characteristic area in the wave pattern (circled in red on the Juncker badge).
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  8. #7

    Default Type 3 makers

    Type 3: 8-wave “RK-type”:

    Both these Gablonz-based Tombak badge makers used this same obverse design apparently derived from the same "Matrize", but with slight consistent differences in their production dies and trimming outlines to distinguish them.

    The badges marked RK are most often assumed to be from Rudolf A. Karneth & Sohn, but another Gablonz maker on the Präsidialkanzlei's list was Robert Kreisel, so there remains some uncertainty.

    The unmarked Tombak badge in this category is for now attributed to "AS in triangle" since it shares die characteristics in the water plume and identical internal cutouts with the later "AS in triangle" zinc badges, both of which differ from RK marked badges.
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  9. #8

    Default Type 4 maker

    Type 4: 9.5-wave “Hymmen”:

    Hymmen & Co. of Lüdenscheid stands alone in this category with their idiosyncratic and somewhat bizarre design which was produced in both Tombak and zinc.
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  10. #9

    Default The exclusively-zinc Minesweepers

    And now, here are the 10 badges (plus one distinctive fake) that occur exclusively in zinc, having no Tombak counterpart:

    Type 2: 8-wave “Juncker-type”:

    “Juncker-like” – possibly late Juncker production (always unmarked)
    B.H. Mayer – Pforzheim (marked)
    Förster & Barth – Pforzheim (both marked and unmarked)
    Rudolf Souval (R. S.) – Vienna (marked)
    Wilhelm Hobacher – Vienna (both marked and unmarked)
    E. Ferdinand Wiedmann – Frankfurt (marked "ÜÜ")
    Unknown “flatback” maker - (always unmarked)

    Type 3: 8-wave “RK-type”:

    "AS in triangle" with the 2nd pattern eagle – Gablonz (marked and unmarked)
    "feathered eagle" reproduction – post-war fake (always unmarked)

    Type 5: 7 to 7.5-"straight-waves":

    LM (possibly Lind & Meyrer) – Idar-Oberstein (always marked), 7.5 waves
    Unknown "straight wave" (possibly S.H.u.Co) - possibly Idar-Oberstein if wartime (always unmarked), 7 waves

  11. #10

    Default Type 2 zinc makers

    Here are the seven exclusively-zinc badges of Type 2, 8-wave “Juncker-type”, again with the characteristic wave pattern as seen in the Type 2 Tombak badges posted previously. Remember this is not including the 4 zinc badges of this type by the known Tombak makers posted earlier.

    What you can see again, is that this obverse design is by far the most common Minesweeper design - more common than the Schwerin design. Interestingly, all of these 7 badges use the same obverse design suggesting a common die source.

    This situation is similar to what the Heer badge collectors sometimes call the "Vienna design", in that instance so called because it was a common design first noticed in the Vienna makers. However, we can see from the KM badges that this Minesweeper design definitely did not originate in Vienna since the Viennese makers' versions occur only in the later war zinc, whereas makers like P&L and Schickle in Pforzheim and S&L in Lüdenscheid made them earlier in Tombak.

    The controversial so-called unknown “flatback” maker also fits into this design category, and to date it remains unknown whether these somewhat poor quality badges are late wartime production or early post-war for the souvenir and replacement market.
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