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A suitable location for the production factory was decided upon in northern Germany, on a twenty square mile parcel of land near the 14th century Wolfsburg Castle.  The GRUNDSTEINLEGUNG des VOLKSWAGENWERKES or Cornerstone Ceremony for the location of the new factory was held in the newly formed town of Stadt des KdF Wagens on May 26, 1938, with Der Führer and Dr. Porsche in attendance. Three of the VW TYPE 38 KdF vehicles (a dark blue Sedan, a black Sunroof Sedan and a dark burgundy Convertible) were in attendance as well, for the people to view. The KdF Sedan model was a split-window Beetle in which its basic design would be produced as a post war Volkswagen for decades to come. The KdF abbreviation came from the German Labor Front slogan "Kraft durch Freude" (Strength through Joy). It was estimated that seventy thousand people also attended the Cornerstone Ceremony and because of the isolated area in Germany at the time, most traveled by 28 special trains to attend or in one of the hundreds of autos present. There were also 600 guests of honors and 150 reporters as well. At the Cornerstone Ceremony, a special badge was given out to the attendees and perhaps over 10,000 badges were believed to have been made for the event. The small badges, width 40mm, height 31mm and thickness of 1,65mm, had a KdF Wagen in the center, a Swastika inside a cogwheel on the top background and the lettering of GRUNDSTEINLEGUNG des VOLKSWAGENWERKES MAI 1938 in a banner on the bottom. These badges were made of a very lightweight Bakelite material, about 3 grams, with a thin layer of silver paint on the surface. The paint easily wore off on the edges or high relief surface areas of the badge over the years from handling or moving around in a jewelry box. There was a special looking clasp pin machine pressed into the back of the Bakelite badge to secure it to a coat or jacket. The manufacturer was B.H. MAYER (Bernhard Heinrich) of Pforzheim, Germany, who by the way made the first workers badges for the KdF Wagen factory. The key identification of an authentic Cornerstone Ceremony pin is that there is B.H. MAYER – Pforzheim lettering or no lettering at all on the back of the original badge. Since the badge was a giveaway, little cost was involved in making them in quantity for the event and you could actually call them an inexpensive giveaway trinket. These original badges are over eighty years old now and have become a collector’s item with not too many surviving over the years and can be pricey depending on the condition.

Since then these Cornerstone Ceremony badges have become true collector’s items to not only VW collectors but for also war time collectors in general. Of course, several, if not many styles of reproduction (repro) badges have been made over the years. Unfortunately, many of these repro badges have been sold and bought under the pretense that they were original Cornerstone Ceremony badges. So how do you tell the difference between an original and a repro badge? This article shows photos of the original and the several repro badges. Also, if you place an original badge in the palm of your hand and close your eyes, they are so lightweight that you cannot feel the weight of them. If you place a repro badge in your hand, it will feel like two or three metal coins because all of the repro badges are made out of a metal alloy and look like shiny metal. Furthermore, if you take a voltmeter and measure continuity, the repro badge will show continuity because it is made out of a metal alloy and the original will not because Bakelite is nonconductive. There is one repro badge that is a very close match to the original but the pin clasp is modern and the badge is also made from a shiny metal alloy. So now, this article becomes the benchmark, without exception, for determining if that Cornerstone Ceremony badge is an original or a reproduction. Good luck and happy collecting!

Additional Info

  • Manufacturer: MAYER
  • Length: 31mm X 40mm X 1.65mm
  • Production Era: 1938
  • Country: Germany
  • Materials: Bakelite
  • Color: Silver
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