Ask Mark Parker Western & Eastern Treasures Magazine
Western & Eastern Treasures Magazine

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Ask Mark Parker
Volume 31 March 1997

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YES, MASTER...Ask Mark Parker Image 1

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: $100-150."

"THE REAL THING"?Ask Mark Parker Image 2

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.

TUBULAR, DUDE!Ask Mark Parker Image 3

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 WAISTAsk Mark Parker Image 4

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 bring $100-125.

DOUBLE OCCUPANCYAsk Mark Parker Image 5

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?Ask Mark Parker Image 6

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.

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