Friday, May 4, 2012

The Hermann Göring SA Feldherrnhalle Dagger



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A 1932 portrait of Hermann Göring in SA uniform
The SA-Feldherrnhalle Leader’s Dagger was authorized in 1937 for senior officers of the SA-Regiment Feldherrnhalle and selected staff officers of the Oberste SA-Führung. Designed by Paul Casberg, the daggers were produced by the Solingen firm of Eickhorn. Casberg incorporated elements of the Army Officer's dagger design with the standard SA dagger. Original SA-FHH daggers are numbered. Some collectors estimate that there are perhaps fifteen in regular circulation in collecting circles, with several more in collections and a few in Russia. The highest known number encountered on a Feldherrnhalle dagger is 51. 









The dagger was 45 cm in length. The grips were in Bakelite or wood. The detailing on the fittings was of a very high standard. The blade was similar to that of the Army Officer dagger and bore the Eickhorn logo and the legend Alles für Deutschland. The eagle on the obverse side of the pommel faced right and on the reverse, left. The obverse of the cross guard bore the SA monogram.






The scabbard, crossguard and pommel were made of high quality aluminum, which was considered a semi-precious metal on a par with silver in those days. These fittings were anodised, with a matt finish resembling the pink hue of rose gold. Any such fittings with a silver-plated finish or made of any other metal indicate a 1960s or 1970s fake. 




As the above photo shows, genuine SA-FHH dagger scabbards have a flaw resulting from a die-cutting error in that the lines forming the borders to the pebbled panels towards the bottom of the scabbard do not meet at their apex. Most fake SA-FHH daggers do not feature this flaw but at least one fake from the early 1970s incorporates an attempt to reproduce the flaw. 

SA-FHH dagger grips in wood
A special presentation version was made for SA-Stabschef Viktor Lütze. According to several dealers and collectors who have examined this dagger, which used to be in the Eric Campion Collection, the grips were of wood and the fittings were of steel and fire-gilded. Others describe the crossguard and pommel as made of plated brass or bronze and the scabbard of steel. Yet another presentation version is said to have been given to the Italian General Russo, with ivory grips. This dagger is said to be in a Canadian collection. 

Hermann Göring's SA-FHH dagger? Where is the scabbard die flaw?
A similar dagger was made for Hermann Göring to mark his birthday appointment by Lütze as honorary Commander of the SA-Regiment Feldherrnhalle on 12.1.1937. And how, after more than six decades, Hermann Göring's SA-Feldherrnhalle presentation dagger has surfaced in a New England auction house. Leo Legare Auctioneers of Pelham, New Hampshire described this amazing find in their sale catalog: "Among the highlights of this September sale will be a Feldherrnhalle Dagger with presentation to Hermann Göring 12 Januar 1937, gold wash hilt with ivory grips, damask blade with “Alles fur Deutschland” one side and presentation on reverse. A prominent WWII figure, Hermann Göring (or Goering) commanded the German Luftwaffe (air force) and was second only to Adolf Hitler in the hierarchy of the Nazi Party. 'This Göring dagger is a one-of-a-kind piece of world history,' said Leo Legare auctioneer, 'in amazing condition, the high quality dress dagger is beautifully crafted.'" The dagger is in a fitted SA-FHH dagger case bearing Eickhorn's logo. 


The complete inscription reads: Dem Oberbefehlshaber der SA-Standarte Feldherrenhalle Hermann Göring 12. Januar 1937 Viktor Lütze. Hermann Göring, who counted the rank of SA-Obergruppenführer amongst his many titles, could not have been the Oberbefehlshaber of any SA unit because that was reserved for the SA-Stabschef, who was Lütze. However, Göring ended up in overall charge of some of the members of SA-Standarte Feldherrnhalle. In September 1938, Göring pulled strings to have the regiment placed under Wehrmacht control. Some members of SA-Rgt FHH formed the cadre of Luftlande-Regiment Feldherrnhalle and were trained as glider assault troops. Many of them ended up in Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 2. The rest of the old regiment were used as cadre for the Army's 120th and 271st Infantry Regiments. German-speakers might have wondered why Feldherrnhalle was misspelt as Feldherrenhalle. An educated man like Göring would certainly have noticed it. It would have been a scandal. Collectors viewing the photographs posted on the Leo Legare website might have wondered how a cold shunt forging flaw materialised in a damascene blade. Others might have wondered about the Indian as opposed to African ivory used for the grip. And some would have wondered about the lack of the scabbard die flaw. 



In the past few years, a number of SA-FHH daggers have surfaced, often posted on forums run by consortiums of American dealers, like the www.germandaggers.com website. German Daggers Dot Com was managed for years by Craig Gottlieb and financed by Vern Bryant and other suspected fakers of Nazi daggers. 


The SA-FHH dagger posted on www.germandaggers.com in 2010: no scabbard die flaw?
In 2010, for instance, an SA-FHH dagger appeared out of the woodwork, posted on the www.germandaggers.com forum by a man seeking information about it. A number of well-known collectors indicated that they believed it to be a genuine piece rather than one of the "excellent copies" mentioned in the above advertisement. The poster, who said he was expecting a visit from dealer Jason Burmeister, was offered $30,000 and €30,000, equating to $37,000 at the time, by two forum members. He subsequently wrote that the dagger was no longer for sale. Like other genuine SA-FHH daggers that have come to light in the past few years, this dagger has not been seen since Jason Burmeister reportedly purchased it. It appears to have plated fittings and the scabbard seems to lack the die flaw. 





As this post from the archives shows, GDDC "Founder" Gottlieb revealed a desire to "build" some Feldherrnhalle daggers back in 2000. In fact, Gottlieb was merely a front webmaster employed by a cabal of suspected Nazi dagger fakers because of his Internet knowhow, just as the WAF's Sebastián Bianchi, an IT manager at in a New Jersey donut bakery, was employed by a ring of bent European and American dealers to set up and run the WAF after he set up a website for local collector Jody Beltram. GDC runs an GDDC/MAX approval scheme for any dealer willing to pay for their stamp of approval. Walking around the MAX Show in 2005, I counted no less than seven SA-FHH daggers offered by dealers who were all GD/MAX-approved. Did Gottlieb make Feldherrnhalle daggers and did he mark them "USA"? Mr Gottlieb has never answered the question. 

Plated fittings, strange-looking hangers and no scabbard die flaw.
It is said that the majority of SA-FHH daggers "out of the woodwork" or "from living veterans" have been sold to Russian and Chinese collectors. However, sources within the militaria trade in the United States suggest that the genuine SA-FHH daggers never reached Moscow, St Petersburg, Beijing or Shanghai. So some of the luckless Russian and Chinese collectors must have received well-made 1960s and 1970s fakes, so well-made that even recognised specialists like the British author Frederick Stephens have warned collectors to be especially wary of them. 








Knowledgeable collectors suggested that the true value of an ordinary SA-FHH dagger without its hangers would be in the region of $50,000 to $60,000. An original SA-FHH dagger with its hangers and a cracked Bakelite grip was sold in 2009 for €54,000 against an asking price of €60,000. The British dealer trying his luck with the above advertisement would stand to make a healthy profit were the genuine ivory-handled SA-FHH daggers awarded by Lütze to Hermann Göring and the Italian General Russo to come his way. 


The alleged Russo dagger is said to be in a collection in Canada and the whereabouts of Göring's dagger remain unknown. Contacted by telephone after the September 1st auction, Leo Legare Auctioneers have not confirmed if the alleged Göring SA-Feldherrnhalle dagger was sold or withdrawn from the sale. Nor did their representative wish to discuss the provenance of the dagger and the identity of the vendor. So where is this Hermann Göring SA-FHH presentation dagger now? Perhaps it is on its way to one of the more gullible Russian and Chinese millionaires who have been eagerly buying such treasures as Hermann Göring's formal Großkreuz document and casette, Albert Keßelring's baton or Adolf Hitler's desktop writing stand? 


Meanwhile, back in the USA, veteran dagger dealer Thomas Wittmann has a Feldherrnhalle dagger for sale on his website for $82,500. Mr Wittmann describes this example as made of "pot metal" with little of the "silvering" remaining. 




As on originals, the lines bordering the lower end of the pebbled panel on the scabbard do not meet at their apex. As Mr Wittmann states: "The tapered scabbard has three individual pebbled panels on each side. Each panel is scalloped on the edges. The panel border lines on the lower panel edge do not connect exactly, a normal flaw found on all original examples. Due to a weakness in the scabbard shell stamping, there are also hand-done simulated pebbles added to the upper right corner of the lower panel on each side, as well as to the upper center obverse panel."



A view of the "hand-done simulated pebbles added to the upper right corner of the lower panel on each side" to which Mr Wittmann refers. Readers will also notice that the borders of the panel do not meet at their apex, a flaw not observed on the original aluminium scabbards, which were struck in two halves and joined together. Those few readers familiar with original SA-FHH daggers will not recall the pebbling flaws described by Mr Wittmann, who ends his sales pitch by telling prospective buyers: "Granted, it is not the normal extruded aluminum based type, but it is absolutely, guaranteed original."

It seems strange that Carl Eickhorn would have produced new tooling to make this supposedly late war SA-FHH dagger with its once-silvered pot metal fittings and nickel-plated blade. Why not strike the scabbard halves on the same dies used to produce the aluminium version? The cross guard is described as "stamped" with the number '2' although the number looks more like an integral part of the casting. If the highest number known on an original SA-FHH dagger is 51, then the number on this dagger would indicate it to be a very early example indeed, dating from 1937. Or perhaps Carl Eickhorn had lost the tooling and were obliged to disassemble a prototype to produce mouldings to fill a late war order for an SA-FHH dagger. 

6 comments:

  1. This smell of craig Gottlieb whose been faking daggers and swords for years. Put in a small auction house, buy it with Jason Burmeister and sell it to a Chinese idiot like Mr Chen.

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  2. The dagger spam site wants a 'rarety', well good luck with 'rarety' hunting!

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  3. Yes the "rarety" hunters offer this money but in my experience are unable to come up with the cash!

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  4. 50 years of collecting has taught my one thing...if you own it it's—an original, if your buying—it's a fake.

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  5. The Dagger Featured is a negative image manipulated to avoid copy write infringement. (A Waste of time) Not an Ivory grip !.
    The Price predicted accurately the market value at the time,
    The Advertisement was placed 13 months before FHH sold for $54000.
    Ask Brian Meaderer about the FHH with straps that he purchased through an Arundel dealer.RC.them MF.
    Nobody is "trying their luck" The Brits were just first with intelligent advertising !.

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  6. Hello David. It's been a long time. The image is the same as the one you had on your website before you adjusted the values and is used here under Fair Use provisions in copyright legislation so the blog is not infringing your rights. The FHH daggers presented by Lütze to Göring and Russo are said to have been fitted with ivory hilts and, as the article says, the Russo dagger is reportedly in a Canadian collection. However, it seems odd that Lütze would have changed the specification, even for Göring. You're the only Nazi dagger dealer I can think of in Arundel, Sussex so are you saying that you sold Maederer a genuine FHH dagger with hangers for the equivalent of $54 grand? You say you predicted the value accurately at $60 grand thirteen months before the $54,000 sale? How does that work? Regards, John

    ReplyDelete

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