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EK restoration/repair: a pragmatic and philosophical question.


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Hello All...

Merry Christmas & happy New Year!  
 

Having recently acquired a very nice but damaged 1914 EK 1st, several lines of questioning presented themselves.  The obvious pragmatic one being is there someone around who specializes in the repair of EKs?  Of course, the nature of the repair and subsequent costs Involved may far outstrip the commercial value of the medal, barring any other historical, intrinsic or sentimental value it may have for its current caretaker.  The more philosophical question being is it appropriate or perhaps in the minds of some collectors “ethical” to affect a repair to these medals?  In my experience with antique swords, it seems to boil down to two approaches:  one being the “never alter anything as to do so will destroy its historic value” and the other being “repair/restore is ok as long as it’s being done for the right reasons “.  I thought it would be interesting to run throw this topic into the water to see what bites at it!  Looking forward to hearing what others think...

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first question is: what type of damage?

if it's a rusty core, the application of a drop of odorless lucas gun oil would help to prevent further spreading

if the issue is a missing/damaged piece of reverse hardware such as pin or catch, i'd leave it as is--sometimes the catches were cut off intentionally so that they couldn't be worn again. kinda like the sword blade that was snapped in half intentionally

 

Edited by Eric Stahlhut
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other than the snapped pin, the rest of the cross appears to be in fine shape. i would leave it, and if the stars align correctly for you perhaps you will eventually find another square punch example in absolutely deplorable/relic condition for cheap that has an intact pin; then very patiently and very carefully swap it out

as you mentioned, purists would of course immediately decry the alteration of this artifact because you would be forever changing the story of the piece. it depends on your motives, i guess. a replaced (correct) pin would increase the value should you decide to ever part with it

 i tend to leave crosses as found unless mitigation of rust is required, plus i never buy stuff with the intent to resell at a profit. others have far different views/motivations regarding militaria and i'm sure you will read their opinions. or not!

in essence, i agree with your initial post on this topic. there are always at least two ways of looking at it, but the fact remains that these crosses with iron cores won't last forever unless they are taken care of and handled/stored appropriately

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So... restoration becomes a bit more acceptable under certain circumstances (in this case, if the right donor medal was found from which to salvage the correct pin...).  Seems reasonable.  That brings up another question:  Field repairs.  I’d imagine EK 1s occasionally fell victim to the rigors of the trench lifestyle and it seems that some recipients might have been reluctant to discard a damaged award, especially if it was an extra quality piece or one received as a gift from family, etc.  Are there any provenanced field repaired examples recorded?

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field-repaired examples are fairly common, and are an area of collecting focus in itself. also of interest are 2nd class crosses that have been "upgraded" to 1st class by adding a fastening system to the reverse, as well as crosses that have been converted into jewelry, such as broaches

in my opinion, any cross from any of the above categories should be considered a unique and singular item and should not be altered.

your cross seems to have suffered an unfortunate accident--its hard to determine if the pin was intentionally broken off. i doubt it

if the pin looked like it was intentionally cut, i wouldn't have suggested a replacement. to me, a cross with a sheared pin or catch means that there could have been a specific reason why it was done, and hopefully someday the significance may become clear.

i read somewhere that the british liked to damage the awards of captured germans troops so that they couldn't wear their medals or badges. no idea if that is true, but it wouldn't surprise me if perhaps a small bit of the story was

Edited by Eric Stahlhut
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I tend to leave mine as I find them but it's each to their own.

An original pin reattached to this cross would do nothing to hurt the integrity of the piece.

To me a damaged pin is a bit of character though!

 

Glenn

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