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

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Ask Mark Parker
Volume 32 March 1998

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JACKSONIAN SILVERAsk Mark Parker Image 1

Q. I found this oval silver piece (shown enlarged - actual size approx. 1/2 x 3/4") at a 19th century mill site in southwestern Ohio. As you can see, it has a portrait of Andrew Jackson, and "JACKSON" in large letters at the top. The reverse is blank, except for a solder spot. In trying to research it, I found references to a cuff link from Jackson's 1828 presidential campaign. Could this be one, and what kind of value would it have?

A. Yours is an interesting discovery for a couple of reasons. First, if it's a sleeve link (or cuff link) button from either the 1828 or the 1832 campaign, it's evidently unlisted. Second, the same die, depicting "Old Hickory" in his War of 1812 military uniform, was used around 1829-30 by Thomas Kettle of Birmingham, England to make tokens for C. Wolfe, Clark & Spies, a New York City firm dealing in hardware and military goods. Most of the tokens were brass or copper, but there is a silvered brass version as well. Could your find could have been cut from one of the gilt tokens? Possibly, but if the reverse shows no trace of any lettering or design and the metal appears to be solid silver, then it's almost certainly an original sleeve link button struck with the same die- and if so, worth perhaps $1,000. Note: the aforementioned tokens are quite valuable, too, averaging close to $1,000 apiece in F-VF condition.

LESS THAN CIVILAsk Mark Parker Image 2

Q. This brass railroad lock has the letters NC & STL RY on it. A collector told me that he believes the initials stand for North Carolina & St. Louis Railway, and that it is from the Civil War era. Can you confirm this and price the lock for me?

A. It's from the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway, and definitely post-war. In fact, while there was a Nashville & Chattanooga line as far back as the 1850s, the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis, sometimes referred to as the "Dixie Route," wasn't established until 1873. And since the lock was made by E. T. Fraim, that pushes the date forward several more years, at least to 1881. My guess is that it's from the early 1900s, though it's hard to say, as this style of lock was in use for a long time. And what's it worth? How about $200-225?

POST PAIDAsk Mark Parker Image 3

Q. Searching the lawn of an old house in my hometown in Kansas, I came up with this Rankin & Gibbs one dollar token. Can you tell me anything about its age and history?

A. Alexander Rankin and Hiram Gibbs were Indian Territory post traders about 115-125 years ago at the Sac & Fox (Indian) Agency, located a few miles south of present-day Stroud, Oklahoma. In addition to this $1 token, there were 25¢ and 50¢ denominations. You didn't ask but probably won't mind hearing that it's at least a $200 find. Incidentally, traders Philip W. Lewis and C. C. Pickett also operated at the agency in those days, issuing tokens of their own which are similarly collectable.

RIGHT THROUGH "U"Ask Mark Parker Image 4

Q. My dad and I do a lot of detecting, and we've been pretty lucky finding rings. Recently, while sorting through some of our finds, we were reminded of something we've been meaning to ask you for a long time. Several of the rings are stamped with the letter U, with an arrow through it, as shown in this drawing. What does it stand for?

A. It's a trademark of the Uncas Manufacturing Company of Providence, Rhode Island, famous for their affordably priced rings and costume jewelry, and once described as "America's Largest Ring House." Uncas has used many other marks and proprietary names, including Sorrento, adapted from the founding family name, Sorrentino.

HOMEGROWN HEROESAsk Mark Parker Image 5

Q. "Down in the dumps" again here in Arizona, and that's where this large (3" dia.) medal was found. Obverse: "World War Heroes - Victory - 1917-1919. In Appreciation to Those Who Served Freedom's Cause from Orange County, California." Reverse: blank banner at top, and "Presented by Orange County War Service Recognition Association." How rare/valuable is it?

A. In the patriotic afterglow of winning what was optimistically called "The War to End All Wars," many American cities and counties issued medals and badges honoring local servicemen. Large, paperweight-size pieces like yours are known as "table medals." The total mintage for the Orange County variety has been estimated at a little over 2,500. Apparently, these were not engraved for presentation, but a banner was added to the design to permit addition of a name if desired. According to a specialist in such medals, it would sell for $150-175 in XF-AU condition. As dug? Maybe half that.


Q. Here's a farmer's watch fob from the fertile soil of the Willamette Valley in Oregon. It's an advertising premium for the International Harvester Company, many of whose products are listed on the back: haying machines, corn binders, cream separators, engines, tractors, etc.- including "auto buggies"! Is it collectable, and most importantly, how old is it?

A. International Harvester was formed in a 1902 merger of several agricultural equipment companies. Production of some of the machines you mentioned (the c. 1906-07 Auto Buggy, for example) began a few years after that. I'm pretty sure this was the first IHC fob, so let's call it 1907-11... and $75 or thereabout.

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