zvez wrote:No expert here, Gil Burkett is the expert and he's got several books on cd about vn fakes.
The little I do know I'm very suspicious of the patches that have staining on the back side, this is a technique the VN fakers in Ho Chi Minh city use to artificially age something. It's a tea like concoction.
USMF would be a good place for advice.
I would reiterate what Chris has written here about the staining. Although many vintage patches can acquire stains over the years from a variety of conditions, it is highly suspicious to find a grouping of patches from different units that all have the same signs of "aging". As Chris wrote, this is a very common technique with unscrupulous dealers to give the appearance of age and thus entice unwary buyers into believing their products are genuine. You are probably aware that the larger cities in Vietnam (HCM City in particular, since many of the original shops from the 70s - when it was Saigon - are still in business) have a booming military reproduction industry. What makes authentication so incredibly difficult is that patch-makers today are using essentially the same techniques and technology that were being used in the 1960s and 1970s to create reproductions of original patches from the Vietnam War. In many cases, there is really not much difference between a patch made in 1968 and one made in 2008, except for the number of years that have elapsed between them, and who ordered the patch. This industry also extends to the manufacture of period-looking berets, metal insignia, bevo patches, printed patches, hand-embroidered insignia, and so-on. The truth is, 99% of the Vietnamese "made" insignia one encounters on Ebay are reproductions, and quite a few of them look a lot like the originals.
The best thing a person can do if they want to collect period Vietnamese made military items is do as much research as possible, and try to get provenance on everything you buy. Obviously, if you know the vet or his family, and can manage to obtain something they saved from the period, that is absolutely the most reliable way of authenticating pieces in your collection. Buying from reputable dealers is another, but one of the most unfortunate things in this hobby is that even those people who establish themselves by getting published and creating a large clientele does not guarantee sincerity or honesty in business. There are some very
well-known names in the Vietnam War collecting/dealing community that possess a wealth of information and yet routinely pawn obviously fraudulent merchandise on places like Ebay. It really is a shame, as the hobby of collecting US SF insignia has almost been ruined completely by the forgers and reproduction artists.
As to your patches specifically, Steven, I just do not possess enough expertise in the field to judge whether they are legitimate or not. I think there is a very remote possibility they could be, but my instinct suggests to me they are probably just good reproductions. That likelihood increases if they were all purchased from the same source, but there is always the possibility of a miraculous finding once or twice in a collector's life.