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tline3open  Marathon Silver and Gold Cigarette Case

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Author Topic:   Marathon Silver and Gold Cigarette Case
Kimo

Posts: 1597
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 05-01-2003 08:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
[01-1064]

I've had this sterling and 14KT gold cigarette case for many years and was wondering if anyone could help me nail down the date or approximate date it would have been made. The front has gold bands inlaid and a gold winged propeller that makes me think this would be either WW I or WW II vintage and belonged to a pilot. There is a nice zig-zag engine turned design on the front and the inside has overlapping circular design polished into it. The cigarette clip has the words "Marathon Product" in a diamond shape outline, and on another part it has the words "Sterling & 14KT." Any information on Marathon and what the date of manufacture might be would be greatly appreciated. Here are some photos of it

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Kimo

Posts: 1597
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 06-04-2003 10:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Have I stumped everyone on information about the Marathon silver company and guessing on the approximate date of this case? smile

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Kimo

Posts: 1597
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 01-07-2005 10:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's been a while since I posted this unanswered question on this cigarette case so I thought I would bump it back up to see whether anyone has come across any information on Marathon and the possible age in the interim. Thanks for looking again and for any thoughts you might have about it!

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11377
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 01-07-2005 10:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is a Marathon Company that makes silver and Jewelry today that has been around since 1897.
Marathon Company
90 O'Neil Blvd.
Attleboro, MA 02703
(800) 451-1515
fax (508) 226-6272

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swarter
Moderator

Posts: 2920
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 01-07-2005 12:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If the gold pilot's wings are other than generic, a reference to military and/or civil and commercial insignia might give you an approximate date.

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Kimo

Posts: 1597
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 01-07-2005 01:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Scott. This looks like it might be the company given that their current logo is an M in a diamond and the makers mark on this case is also in a diamond shape. I will try to contact them to see if they might be able to give me an idea about the approximate age.

Thanks for the throught Swarter. I have a pretty good knowledge of flight insignia and the winged propeller design was introduced in the teens and was used up through the WW II era and slightly afterwards by several countries. This is a U.S. version. There were minor variations over time of the U.S. version but this particular one is too generic to place definitively at any particular point within that rather broad timeframe. There are aspects that say WW I and aspects that say WW II.

Are there any aspects or features in the style of the case itself that might indicate whether this would more likely be a 1918-1920s style cigarette case or more likely a 1940s style cigarette case?

Thanks again!

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doc

Posts: 712
Registered: Jul 2003

iconnumber posted 01-07-2005 05:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for doc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The font style of of the initials is more in line with World War I vintage than World War II, although not necessarily a clear indicator, since engraving styles come and go and come back.

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 01-08-2005 12:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I find myself wondering if Marathon is the giver of the case, not the maker. Seems there was, and maybe is, a Marathon oil company. And it is entirely possible that there were Marathon airplanes, parts etc. Interesting item. The engraving as Doc points our looks more early 20's. Could Marathon refer to a contest?

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swarter
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Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 01-08-2005 11:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If the initials VCV refer to a club or organization which may have issued the case to its members, rather than representing an owner's name, finding the group might provide a time frame. I went through the first 10 pages of the 83,400 Google entries, and found only a Swiss bicycle club with those initials - obviously not a pilot's or aircraft owner's organization - but somewhere in that list may lie the answer.

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Scott Martin
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Posts: 11377
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 01-08-2005 02:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The following is just some casual investigation ... as such, I welcome a more knowledgeable person's correction or affirmation.

In the early years the US Army Air Service or Army Air Corps was not really that well organized. Its insignia, the winged propeller badge seems to have been introduced during World War I. In 1926 the Air Service was reorganized as an Army branch, and was renamed the US Army Air Corps (USAAC) In 1947 the Air Force became a separate armed service.

I have also seen other countries using very similar winged propeller insignia.

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Kimo

Posts: 1597
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 01-09-2005 12:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting thought on Marathon Oil Company. I just did a quick search on the history of Marathon Oil and found that they didn't start using this as their name until 1962 - before that they were the Ohio Oil Company. As such I would not think that this would be related to them as it is definitely older than that.

On the engraved initials, I hadn't thought of VCV, my first impression was they might be JEL, but I'm never very good at these things and the first initial could be either J or V, the second could be either C or E and the last could be L or V. I also hadn't thought of their being an organization rather than the owner's but you are right that it could be either. My initial thought was that this would have been a personal item of a pilot during WW I or WW II that would have been kept in his inside breast pocket of his uniform and jauntily pulled out with a flourish when he was going to "have a smoke". Given the lack of a personal inscription I would think that it would more likely have been something he might have bought for himself rather than it being a gift, but not necessarily.

The winged propeller was used as the collar insignia for army aviation officers starting in 1918 and through WW II. I'm not sure when they stopped - I think it was around 1947, but it was shortly after WW II when jets came into common use and officers didn't want to appear to be outdated. You can even find these old insignia from after the war where some officers had the propellers cut off by jewelers leaving just the wings.

The one on this cigarette case is definitely based on the U.S. versions rather than the ones some other countries used, and it seems to have attributes of both the WW I style with a relatively short propeller compared to the wing span, but also some WW II aspects such as the style of feathering in the "shoulder" area of each wing. As such, and judging only by the gold winged propeller, it could be anywhere from 1918 to the inter-war years to WW II in age. The odd thing about the winged propeller is that this one is all in gold. The version used by the U.S. Air Service in 1918 and through the U.S. Air Force in the 1940s always had the wings in silver and the propeller in gold. The other version you sometimes see in WW II vintage ones are all silver versions which were ones that were used by the Civil Air Patrol officers and by the Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs). All gold flight insignia were the domain of U.S. Navy officers but they didn't use a winged propeller - they used (and still do) a winged shield backed by an anchor insignia. My guess is the one on this case is a jeweler's interpretation rather than trying to be an exact reproduction, which makes me think it may more likely be an earlier date since there was a lot of confusion and creative variation at that time as to just what the insignia was supposed to be.

One more thing to add about this case is its size - the outside dimensions are three inches high by four inches wide and the inside could accomodate cigarettes of no more than "two and three-quarters of an inch" long. I'm not an expert on old cigarettes, but perhaps this might help date it? Did cigarettes change size over the years from the teens to the 1940s?

Many thanks again for your thoughts.

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