Collecting German militaria from WWII is very popular and collecting items from certain campaigns and elite forces can bring a premium price. Naturally these items draw the fakers and the cycle continues with sellers who don't know any better. A real Afrika cuff title should go for $100s not $10s - 1st alarm bell... if it looks too good to be true then approach with caution
One area of of particular interest are items from Rommels Africa Corps (German Afrika Korps or Deutsches Afrikakorps (DAK). One item which often brings in the big dollars are Afrika cuff titles which were worn on the sleeve of German uniforms of German personal who spent a minimum of six months in the African theatre or were wounded in action in or over Africa.
The cuff title was described in official German text as - "the khaki coloured camel hair cuff title has a silver border and has the silver embroidered script "Afrika". This is flanked on both ends by a silver palm tree".
This description is from German Army Regulations 1943 Directive 2 p.33 No 60 - there's a bit of trivia for you. Prior to 1943 the word Afrikakorps also appeared on some cuff titles.
2nd Alarm Bell.......the borders, script and palm trees are silver coloured - they are not off-white, cream, light brown.
Original in my collection
As described above the cuff title is khaki coloured.
3rd Alarm Bell.....
the Afrika cuff titles aren't black, dark green or yellow. The earlier Afrikakorps cuff title however could be found with different coloured backgrounds and didn't have the palm trees (see photo below).
- this is from an original photo I have of Rommel
One of the keys to detecting the fake Afrika cuff title is the description "camel hair" - the original material and manufacture was of a very high standard and should be soft to the touch. Can resemble a Mohair material and the back should be cotton.
4th Alarm Bell beware one made from cheap materials such as felt or rough cotton.
Original in my Collection
High Quality High Quality High Quality - I'll say it again, the originals are High Quality -
5th Alarm Bell - if the letters aren't aligned or don't look crisp, or if the palm trees look like starfish on a stick beware.
Original in my collection
6th Alarm Bell - if you buy one sold as an original try getting a loose thread off the back of the cuff and holding it over a match. The thread should be natural cotton so if it melts then its probably made with modern poly thread. Natural cotton threads should ash.
If there is time before you buy join a military collectors web site and ask an opinion of the item. These guys are often experts in their field and have seen all the fakes and know a real one when they spot one and are usually keen to assist.
Good luck and happy collecting
Africa Cuff Titles - How to spot the fakes
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12 October 2009
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