Fake and Fantasy German Edged Weapons for Fun and Profit
The faking of German swords and daggers began in the early 1960’s when an enterprising American, Lt. Col James Atwood, once of the United States Army and later of the Central Intelligence Agency, then resident in Germany, went to the German city of Solingen and bought up as many bits and pieces of Third Reich German daggers and swords as he could find. The great majority of these surplus pieces were factory rejects. Missing parts were newly manufactured and the completed items were sold as “parts daggers.”
As the original parts were exhausted, new ones were made until, in the end, the entire dagger was constructed of totally fake parts.
Not satisfied with copying pieces which did exist prior to the end of the war, unscrupulous dealers began to invent items which did not such as the “Himmler Damascus Presentation Letter Opener” and the NSKK “prototype” dagger and to put these into books allegedly produced as “historical reference” works.
An enterprising English author of a work on fake daggers once grafted a poor copy of a rare “diplomatic bayonet” grip onto a pre-Third Reich police bayonet, without bothering to remove the police markings from the scabbard. Although the hilt was crude and the fit was terrible, this piece was sold to a California collector for over $7,000 and is to be found in a standard reference work as “the only known example” of a very rare item. After the death of the owner, it was resold for $15.000.
It is, however, in the area of fantasy pieces that the great bulk of the fakes are to be found.
For instance, a copy of the so-called “Göring Wedding Sword” was hand crafted by the Solingen firm of Carl Eichhorn (before it was closed for fraud) at the order of an American dealer, James Atwood, in the early 1960’s, and it was conveniently “discovered” in the hands of a willing ex-GI friend and, after considerable helpful publicity in several books, sold and subsequently resold for bigger and bigger, and finally, enormous profits.
The original of this sword, presented to General Göring by his staff on the occasion of his wedding in 1935, is in a West German collection where it has been since 1948.
Another fantasy piece attributed to Göring is the so-called “Industrial Dagger” alleged to have been prepared for presentation to Göring by a group of German industrialists. This piece is a fantasy although a photograph has surfaced allegedly showing the piece on the wall of the original plant. It should be noted that faked photographs are extremely easy to produce by even a semi-skilled photographer.
Also forged has been the so-called “Reichsmarschall Dagger” the original of which was made for Göring by the students of the Berlin Technical Academy in 1940.
The fake piece, once in the hands of the notorious dealer in fakes, “Roger Steele”, has a serious error in the marking on the cross guard. On the original, there were two Balkan crosses engraved on the top of the cross guard, one on either side of the grip while on the fake, these crosses are replicas of the iron Cross. The amusing story connected with the “appearance” of this rare piece is that it was “discovered” in a London costume shop, covered with brown paint!
Roger Steele (aka Gaylord E. Wessock) of Hollywood Military Hobbies was known to have well-developed sense of humor when it came to inventing stories to accompany his exotic fakes.
Other Third Reich fantasy pieces include the “Sepp Dietrich Honor Sword”, the “Sepp Dietrich Honor Dagger”, the “Theodor Eicke Honor Dagger” and a number of Damascus-bladed SS officer’s swords alleged to have been made by the craftsman Paul Müller and presented by Himmler to various SS officials. At least one can say of these swords (most of which were alleged to have been made after the Müller forge at Dachau was closed permanently in the year 1940) is that the fittings are generally original even if the overly-antiqued blades are not.
Another incredible fantasy item is the “Adolf Hitler Ehrenburger Sword”, a copy of a 14th century piece which appears on the cover of this book. This piece was originally presented to Hitler by the city of Solingen and photos of it can be found in the city archives. However, that having been said, the one shown in a number of books on German edged weapons is not the same one show in period photographs. Col Atwood had one of these made at the same time he had the Eichhorn factory manufacture another copy of the Göring Wedding Sword and the Göring Industrial Dagger. A quick comparison of the Damascus patterns on the pictures of the original are sufficient to expose the fake.
There is also an Italian Fascist dagger with an ivory hilt allegedly presented by Mussolini to Hitler in 1937 and last, but by no means least, a so-called “Eastern Official’s Dagger” made from a wartime drawing of a proposed item which was never produced.