Monday, February 23, 2009

Insignia for the Armed Forces

The American Insignia Co. manufactured
costume jewelry prior to WW ll.
In 1941, instead of ankle bracelets and lavalieres
they started producing Army, Navy, Marine
and Coast Guard Official Insignia.
The firm had a room full of stamping presses
and die makers to supply them with authentic
approved dies .
The jewelery line was phased out and I
found myself employed by the largest producer
of insignia in the US.
My job was to solder the joints,
(pins with a pivot base) catches ,
(Latches to hold the pins)
and posts ( gizmos that penetrated the
clothing and were secured by tiny spring locks)
to the backs of the insignia stampings which
were used for fastening to uniforms .
Soldering, required a torch, that used
illuminating gas and compressed air, to heat
the stampings and melt the silver solder
to secure the findings.(pins and catches)
I guess you now know where this post is heading ..
The soldering was done on Asbestos boards
8"X14" and one inch thick.
We placed the findings under the
flame of the torch with steel tweezers.
The tweezers we had, were ten inches
in length and used to locate the findings in
their proper place on the stampings.
We used our tweezers to keep time with
the music, that played on the Muzack, by
beating them on the asbestos board to
the tempo of the sound while we waited for
the silver solder to melt.
Plenty of asbestos was airborne, while
we hunched over the decaying board with the
air pressured flame, while we were
innocently breathing in the hot residue.

Here I am telling you, how lucky I am, that
after 4 years of doing this work, I am free of
mesothelioma, Asbestos Poisoning.

There are thousands of Navy personnel
that may not be so lucky.

The Navy used asbestos-containing products
as fire resistant compounds in their vessels for
many years, until 1970.
After that, less amounts of asbestos-containing
products were used on newer ships.
Many Servicemen serving aboard these
ships were in addditional peril of
Mesothelioma, asbestos poisoning. has a list of all naval vessels
that may have contained contaminants.
A Veteran must provide proof to the V.A. that
their disease is asbestos related, and that
exposure occured during military service.
in order to receive any benefits..
A Veteran unable to prove to the V.A. that
their asbestos exposure is limited and related
to service will be advised to seek
compensation from asbestos manufacturers. has a list of Naval vessels with
asbestos contaminants that may have
threatened your health.
Your best bet is to inquire of the
Veterans Administration
if you think you are at risk.


Anonymous said...

Fascinated with the details of your work; but shocked that you & others
were "innocently" working in these
"health hazard" conditions.Where is
the concern for employees subjected to an asbestos environment? and with continued usage until the 70's??? K

solfine said...

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