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“It’s Cast”

Finally we are up and running again. It even took three tries for my password to work. Oh well better late than never.

“It’s Cast” are words that a collector rarely wants to hear. There are times how ever, when those words are not the kiss of death. The coins issued in Mexican state of Sinaloa during the Mexican Revolution for example, are some of the worst looking sand castings that I have ever seen. When it comes to high relief medals and badges casting can also be a genuine means of production. A large government mint can strike high relief medals and badges from dies often having to strike the medals four or more times from the same die which is a costly operation to say the least. Some badges are so difficult that they must be struck in several pieces to be assembled later. For smaller private manufacturers with small production runs casting is a much more economical option. Lost Wax casting if done with expertise and the proper equipment can produce fantastic results that many collectors would not recognize as being cast without the use of a magnifying glass. Illustrated here is a two piece rubber mold, from the estate of an old time Milwaukee jeweler, that was used to make presentation copies of the Milwaukee Police Department Detective’s badge. At the risk of over simplification I will briefly describe the process. The mold is filled with a wax that hardens hard enough so that the rubber mold can be removed without causing any distortion. The hardened wax badge copy is then encased in a very fine clay which in turn hardens into a perfect mold of the badge. When the clay is hard enough molten metal is injected into the mold causing the wax to vaporize as the molten metal replaces it. After the metal has cooled the clay mold is removed and the new badge is ready to be engraved and have a pin and catch attached.
So how does one determine if a cast badge is genuine? First try to know the correct characteristics for the item and the time period of manufacture. For example the Milwaukee detective badge has been in use for about 100 years so expect several maker variations. Some Imperial era German aviation badges were made over 30 or more years by many makers using both cast and die struck methods. Some are government issues and others private replacement pieces. Generally the higher the quality the better the chances are that the item is good. A makers name or mark also helps but remember that some good items do not carry a makers mark and some fakes do.

About Fred Borgmann

Retired from KP after nearly 31 years as new issues editor and the Standard Catalogs.
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