Western & Eastern Treasures Magazine
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Q. I found this button (actual size about 20 mm) at a site in central New Jersey and would like to know more about it. It is gilt copper or brass and backmarked "W & R Smith," which my research shows to be a British firm in operation from 1790 to 1832. Can you tell me anything about it?
A. Our answer comes from buttons specialist Bob Edmond-son: "This
is the first British Navy Master's button and dates from 1807 to 1812, when
a crown was added to the design. The Master was in charge of small arms
and training of other ranks (enlisted men or sailors). Estimated value:
"THE REAL THING"?
Q. About how old is this red-enameled Coca-Cola watch fob, and does it have any value?
A. Good news: The original was introduced in the 1920s and is
currently worth $125 or more. Bad news: Just about every Coke fob has been
reproduced in recent years, and of course such copies are of little
interest to collectors. Your best bet would be to show it to a number of
Coca-Cola memorabilia &/or fob experts, for authentication.
Q. Some time ago, I uncovered this item marked "Little Gem Bank." It's spring-loaded, has a coin slot, and is marked in increments up to 500. I'm assuming it was meant to hold $5 worth of dimes. Any information about it would be appreciated.
A. At least as far back as 1902, Sears, Roebuck & Co. offered this
vest-pocket tube bank, which opened automatically when $5 in dimes had been
deposited. In those days, the nickel-plated "Little Gem" sold for 6¢.
There was also a version for pennies, priced at 8¢. Robert L. McCumber,
author of Registering Banks, told W&ET that your find is valued at $15-20.
GOING TO WAIST
Q. Mark, I found this brass buckle at a Florida house built in 1888. As far as I know, there was no Civil War activity in the area. How old is it, really?
A. It's a U.S. Army enlisted man's waist belt plate (known as the
Hagner Pattern for its designer, Col. P.V. Hagner), in use from 1872 to
1902. Maybe a second search of the site would turn up the brass "keeper"
to which the plate attached. Assuming it's not a modern replica, it might
Q. Please identify this medallion.
A. It's a U.S. military medal issued to members of the Army and
Air Force serving a minimum of 30 consecutive days in the occupation forces
assigned to German and Japan following World War II. The obverse depicts
the Remagen Bridge; the reverse, Japanese ships with Mt. Fuji in the
background. When presented, the medal was suspended from a red, black &
white striped ribbon. If complete, it would be worth $15; as is, maybe $5.
WHAT'S YOUR HANGUP?
Q. The area around our summer home in upstate New York is rich in history of both the French & Indian War and Revolutionary War, and I'd be interested in your comments on this highly ornamental copper or brass item (possibly a clasp) that I discovered while detecting there.
A. Sounds as if your property has excellent relic-hunting
potential, all right; however, this particular "whatzit" is of more recent
vintage. It's a late 19th century picture hook. These handy bits of
hardware fitted onto the molding strips beneath Victorian parlor ceilings,
allowing picture frame wires to be hung from them. Fancy ones like yours
cost 5-10¢; plain ones were a dime a dozen. Those prices are probably not
too far off the mark today, although you might be able to get a few dollars
for matching, ornate picture hooks in nice, non-dug condition.