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Mythology of late Kites and Pillars

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“A few of the late World War II awards were of rough unpolished metal”

(Peterson, p. 19)

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It was written about kites.

Probably about kites in all classes (sic!).

Another possibility – only about kites in 6th and 7th classes.

For a long time this sentence has been bothering me.

Why?

Because I’ve never seen such rough unpolished metal specimens.

Have you?

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Of course it is quite natural to assume that when country doesn’t have enough aluminum to build plains it doesn’t have enough silver for the kites. And even more natural will be to assume, that when collapse of empire is round the corner practically everything become poor-quality. We can observe this process by way of example of late-war badges. Here we have an example of two merit badges of Japanese Naval Institute. On the left – classical high-quality piece and on the right late war specimen.

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But this is badges.

And we are talking about the orders.

And not just orders, but about most prestigious order of them all – golden kite.

Does same story with poor-quality late pieces really happen here?

Whether really there are the kites executed in rough unpolished metal?

Let's try to sort this out.

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We will begin with a unique source of the information on "poor-quality" kites.

I would like to attract attention of my colleagues to a word METAL.

Metal instead of habitual high-proof silver.

Simple metal which is

a) any of a number of chemical elements, such as iron or copper, that are often lustrous ductile solids, have basic oxides, form positive ions, and are good conductors of heat and electricity

or

b) an alloy, such as brass or steel, containing one or more of these elements

That’s why when I hear word “metal” (especially after multiplying this word by 70 years!) I expect to see something that maybe not completely “eaten away with rust”, but have some usual footprints of time (at least!). “Usual” for 70 years old metal pieces. Don’t you?

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So this is all that we could extract from Peterson's phrase.

Whence he had obtained this information is not known.

I’ve personally never met poor made kites in metal.

But maybe it’s just me and my unlucky experience?

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Despite of all aforesaid sometimes you can hear term "early-war kites" and "late-war kites" (war, of course, pacific one).

What’s is this?

On what ground one could place WW II kites into these categories?

Let’s look carefully into this issue.

Edited by JapanX

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What it’s all about?

The main feature of alleged “early” kites is ideally polished reverse. The main feature of alleged “late” kites is sandblasted reverse (this is the main, but not one and only feature). Ok, let’s go visual. Here we have a nice gallery of “early” kites. 5th and 7th class.

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And now some examples of “late” kites. Couple of 4th classes and one 6th class specimens.

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I think you get the general idea.

Now the only question – on what ground somebody could call the later ones “late-war-kites”?

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Are these Peterson late WWII Kites?

Definitely NO!

These badges don’t look like they were made out of rough unpolished metal.

Do you really see rough metal dear colleagues?

The only thing I see is absence of polishing of silver reverse. Nothing more.

Quality of manufacturing of obverses is not lower – it’s exactly the same.

The same as quality of pieces with polished reverses.

Just take a look at this 5th class “late” kite.

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Ok. I think it’s clear that these ones are not the awards that Peterson was taking about in his book. No way!

But do they “early” or “late”?

No way to tell for sure.

I think that polished/unpolished reverses can easily be a result of different batches, which can be manufactured simultaneously by different mint workshops.

Why not?

The only arbiter here could be 100% proof documented group with such kites in it.

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Any documented groups from late 30s and 1943-1945 period?

I never see any documented group on this time period (which is of course no proof that such group (or groups) doesn’t exists somewhere). Actually even if this group exists it can be accepted as sufficient prove that badges with unpolished reverses were made only during 1943-1945 time period. No records of their production exist to my knowledge. They could be as well as “early” kites as well as “late” kites or both.

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“Manchukuo-made” “late” pillar pieces – do they really “late” and “Manchukuo-made”?

We find the same pattern (polished/sandblasted reverses) on the Manchukuo Pillars of the State orders (the gem of japanese phaleristics!).

Here is an example of two 3rd classes of pillars .

Edited by JapanX

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But please note, that both specimens have very similar and high quality manufactured obverses.

And now the reverses of two “early” and “late” 4th (or, if you wish, 5th) classes.

Edited by JapanX

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Striking differences! Often you could hear that badges with non-polished reverses are definitely from the late war period. Sometimes speaker even add that unpolished pillars are made by Manchukuo mint itself (I am not even aware that that there was Manchukuo mint!? I think that all orders and most badges were made by Japanese mint and only some badges were manufactured inside occupied China. The quality of manufacturing and technology itself are very very japanese).

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