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

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Ask Mark Parker
Volume 31 December 1997

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Q. I uncovered this 2-1/2" stamped brass plume holder at an old site in Texas. Any information about it would be appreciated... American or Mexican? Time period? etc.

A. Congratulations on an uncommon find... and some deft digging to recover it intact. It's a c. 1833-51 U.S. Dragoon cap plume holder. Though now associated with the Ordnance Corps, the flaming bomb insignia attached to the "tulip" or socket was used by several branches of the Army (Artillery, Dragoons, Infantry) at that time. So far, I've found no price listing for this item. Best guess, after shopping it around: $175-225.

OFF-DUTY OASISAsk Mark Parker Image 2

Q. Here's a call for help from the sun-baked tundra of western South Dakota! What can you tell me about this token, and what exactly was the "post canteen"?

A. Well, since the site is practically in your backyard, I won't presume to tell you the history of Fort Meade. Basically a forerunner of the post exchange or PX, the canteen was a place offering soldiers food and drink, tobacco, candy, other sundries, and usually some sort of amusement to while away off-duty hours. It's unclear just when this token was issued, but it's probably about 100 years old. Even though time has been a bit unkind to it, it's still highly collectable and should be worth $450 retail. (If the buyer complains about the condition, ask him to show you some better ones!)

BOARD MEETINGAsk Mark Parker Image 3

Q. Mark, this statuette has been in my family for as long as I can remember, and I am 73. Depicting two men playing checkers while a woman and small child look on, it is very highly detailed and has a light chocolate color over white. Please help me determine its origin and possible value.

A. This is a "Rogers group," a cast plaster copy of a sculpture by John Rogers, a New Hampshire machinist-turned-artist active in the mid to late 1800s. One of his most popular works, it's called "Checkers Up at the Farm." These were usually given a monochrome finish, and flaking is typical. If the paint is original and more than 50% remains, and there is no significant chipping or other damage to the plaster itself, then your heirloom ought to bring $450+.

VERACRUZ CRUISEAsk Mark Parker Image 4

Q. I found this U.S. Navy medal while detecting in Kansas. It is numbered "M No 15791." Why was it issued, and do you think it would be possible to identify the recipient?

A. This campaign medal was awarded to Navy personnel who served against Mexican forces between 1911 and 1917. Following a series of hostile incidents, the U.S. occupied Veracruz for a time, and Veracruz Harbor is pictured on the obverse of the medal. Designed and made by the well-known firm of Bailey, Banks & Biddle, the 1-1/4" bronze medallion was suspended from a blue, yellow, and green striped ribbon. There are several varieties, and restrikes as well; however, those of the "M No" series are the most valuable. Complete with ribbon and in nice condition, it would have a price tag of at least $400; as is, maybe $275-300. Tracing the recipient could entail some major maze-work, but you can start your quest by writing to the Naval Historical Center and the National Archives & Records Service.

FLICK OF THE WRISTAsk Mark Parker Image 5

Q. Coinshooting a friend's front yard, I popped up this Mickey & Minnie Mouse bracelet . It's marked "Sterling," and the color enameling is still good on all the design. Please tell me how old it is and what it's worth.

A. An authentic Disneyana dandy from the mid 1930s, it's easily a $125-150 find. Unless there's a mark, it would be difficult to identify the maker, but one possibility is Cohn & Rosenberger of New York. Note: "W.D.E.," another mark often found on Disney items, is for Walt Disney Enterprises, and indicates that the use of their copyrighted characters, logos, etc. has been authorized.

WHAT A RELIEFAsk Mark Parker Image 6

Q. Can you identify this unusual pin? When I found it in fill dirt at a ballfield, it was on some sort of cloth belt or sash resembling a cummerbund. Actual size of the pin is 5/8". The front has the letters "RS," surrounded by the inscription "Charity Never Faileth" and "1842." The center is yellow, with a blue border. The back is marked 12K and "cTo."

A. The "RS" monogram is that of the Relief Society, a women's charitable organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), and the mottto "Charity Never Faileth" is from a Bible verse, I Corinthians 13:8. The date is commemorative. "cTo" is the mark of the O. C. Tanner Co. of Salt Lake City, Utah, who reportedly made the 12K gold-filled pin within the past 15 years. Value is undetermined, but presumably only a few dollars at most.

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