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Thread: Testing material using a Black Light

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Macomb, Michigan, USA.


    ADMIN NOTE: Jim bought soem flags and was asking if they were original.

    A black light, hmm sounds like a great idea. Unfortunately I already paid for these but perhaps a lesson learned.

    I suspect I can get a black light at the Home Depot, what will I look for when I shine it on the flag?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Brazil (South America)


    Well, when you expose the flags under the black light, the white areas MUST NOT bright. If it brights then it has polyester fibers, then it is post war made. Basically, this is the idea.

    However, as always, it seems that it is not so simple... here it is some comments I found on the Wehrmacht Awards Forum:

    1. UV light does not detect synthetic fibers/material, it does detect added whiteners or chemials that will cause a material to fluoresce.

    2. Whiteners have been known and used in manufacturing since the 19th century, however widespread use of whiteners in making paper or brightening white cloth did not occur until after WWII....mainly from the 1950's on....there are plenty of exceptions to this however.

    3. Many items made prior to May 1945 will fluoresce under UV light. Many dyes had phosphates added to create colors and shade charactersitics..and this ocurred as early as the late 1800s. In general it is pretty futile to look at anything other than white material or paper with an UV light in order to reach any conclusions as to when it was made. Most pre-45 fabrics (white) and paper items will not flouresce under UV light. Those that do, will not flouresce to the degree of modern fabrics and paper (compare to a new T shirt for example), many items that have been washed in more modern detergents will flouresce to some degree, but not usually to the extent of material that was bleached with whiteners when manufactured.
    4. Synthetic and semi-synthetic material existed and were used in WWII Germany, as stated above these will not be detected by blacklights unless a whitener was added...and even then it will not tell that what you are looking it is synthetic...only that it has been brightned with a phosphate additive.
    5. UV light can amplify stains like sweat and blood and can be usefull to campare items that appear the same in regular light but may be of different origins of manufacture (paper lots, dye lots, etc...) this may or may not be of much value to the collector to detect.

    The widespread use and knowledge of blacklights in 3rd Reich collecting has been around for at least over 20 years, I first saw these being sold and pushed at the 1985 Max show. I have been using one since about 1982/83 for various uniform analysis along with several other self taught techniques. I would assume that no serious fake hase been made using brightner enhanced material since at least 1990 or this so-called as been very well known since then...the same is true for items made with various polyester blend material and thread (this synthetic is very post war but often used in early fakes up through the 1980's), but again a blacklight is of no use to merely detect synthetic material.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    , VA., USA.


    Very interesting pictures!

    I believe the rope and the binding on the end of the flag will fail the Black light test.

    Many ( most) of the synthetic materials will not hold stain well and are very chemically resistant.

    It's been a long time, but I think there is an ash test, and I see the rope ends are splayed and would be a good test area.

    I wish you luck on your flags!, they would be a great find.

    Thanks for posting, still great to look at!


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