Monday, April 12, 2010

The miracle of black light

I have been having more and more people tell me how some WW2 stuff will glow under black light.

Now I will grant that we don't know for certain what the Germans made everything out of, especially in the last days of the war, but as to US patches I can say I have never seen a patch that I know for sure is wartime (and I have a few hundred from 2 collections made by WW2 GI's that stopped when they left the army) glow. Maybe a mild glow on one that was washed in detergent, but just a mild glow.

Some people say "they could have used a synthetic…" but no one seems to be able to come up with proof of that. From everything anyone has ever seen on WW2 US patches they were not made of any synthetics. So to claim "some were" is to me an extraordinary claim and demands extraordinary proof.

What gets me is that people most vocal about glowing being OK are either dealers selling them, or people who have bought them. Both have vested interests. I'm sorry but until someone shows me some proof I'm not going to believe it. It 'may' be true, but if so then just show your proof. It's that simple.


Will WW2 patches suffer a chemical change when dry cleaned that make them glow? I have no idea. I doubt it, but dry cleaning fluids are nasty things and if any chemical can mess with something I am sure it would be dry cleaning fluids. But where is a chemist to explain the science behind it? If an all natural fiber and common dye can luminesce due to dry cleaning it should either be a simple explanation, or a mystery any chemist worth their salt would like to figure out.

What's really odd to me is that people seem to find glowing patches most frequently when they are rare or theater made, or unusual ones. No one ever seems to find blue star commando patches. Now that could be that they are so common that one ever looks at them. Or it could be that they are so common no one ever made post war versions of them (or some such mundane not terribly collectible patch).

People are free to believe what they want, but I think a lot more collectors need to ask for proof of statements like this. There are too many collectors' myths out there that get passed from one person to the next. Normally so someone can make money. Used ot be history was re-writtenf or political gain. Now it gets re-written for financial gain.

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