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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (05/2001) AMP (04/2001) AMP (06/2001)   Vol. 35 May 2001 
Ask Mark Parker!
As seen in the May 2001 edition of W&ET Magazine


Question Mark, could you identify and price this "80" button for me?

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Answer It's a British 80th Regiment button from the Revolutionary War. A loyalty regiment raised by public subscription in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1778, the 80th (also known as the Royal Edinburgh Volunteers), arrived in New York in the autumn of 1779. They later fought in the South and, serving under Cornwallis, were captured at Yorktown in 1781. The regiment was disbanded in 1784. Buttons of the 80th are extremely scarce. A couple of recoveries were reported from New York and Virginia many years ago, but yours is evidently the first in a very long time, and experts contacted by W&ET have estimated its value at $800-1,000+. By the way, an "REV" Royal Edinburgh Volunteers belt plate also exists. I don't suppose you've got one of those at the bottom of the junk box... but if you do, I'd like to hear from you!


Question Hunting in a nearby New Hampshire town, I found this 1711 Spanish 2 reales. My question is, how can it be a coin of Carolus III (note the inscriptions and monogram), since Philip V was King of Spain at that time, and Carolus (Carlos, or Charles) III didn't take the throne until almost a half a century later, in 1759?

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Answer Right facts, wrong fellow. During the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714), the Archduke Charles, Austrian Hapsburg rival to the Bourbon Philip V, issued coins as King Charles III. These were struck at the mint in Barcelona, in the northeastern Spanish province of Catalonia. Meanwhile, money from the country's other mints at Madrid, Segovia, and Valencia bore the name of Philip V instead. Confusing? Amusing? Maybe... but it was serious business to the two contenders for the throne, for whom official coinage was an important means of proclaiming and validating their right to rule. (And hey, it's not half as wacky as having 50 different kinds of quarters!) Your find's worth about $30 in Very Fine condition.


Question A friend of mine recovered this large, stamped brass or copper eagle hat plate near Lewiston, Montana. In the same area there is an abandoned military post, Fort Maginnis, which was occupied from 1880 to 1890. Could the plate be related to the history of the fort?

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Answer Very possibly. It's from an Indian Wars era, U.S. Model 1872 helmet, a fancy but rather impractical piece of headgear apparently patterned after contemporary Prussian military helmets. In response to chronic complaints from the field, the design was changed in 1881, and the older helmets were ordered returned for modification and reissue. Price tag for the plate? $50-75, although you can sometimes pick them up at relic shows and swap meets for less. On the other hand, a collector interested in the provenance of this one might even offer a few extra bucks.


Question I hope you can help me identify what I think is a watch fob or charm. The metal is bronze, and the emblem is red, white & gold. I haven't the vaguest idea of what the letters stand for, or even what language it might be.

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Answer It's the emblem of Kappa Alpha Psi (KAY), a college fraternity for African-American men. The Greek letters fnp on the center scroll are Phi Nu Pi, the fraternal motto and also the source of the proud "Nupes" nickname for the men of "That Good Old Kappa Spirit". KAY was established in 1911, and in 2000 had a reported national membership of 90,000; so, fobs/charms of this sort aren't likely too uncommon. Still, it might retail for $20+.


Question This tool was made in Germany by, or for, the Keuffel & Esser Co. of New York. It is in very good condition, and I have the original case for it as well. I would appreciate any information concerning it.

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Answer These are the components of a planimeter, a device used to determine the areas of planar figures on maps, charts, blueprints, etc. When assembled, it performs this task mechanically as a tracer point is guided around the border of the figure or region to be measured. A wheel also moves along during this process, causing readings to register on a calibrated scale. Planimeters of this type have been around for 150 years and are still being made and used today. The firm of Keuffel & Esser was founded in Germany in 1867, and was also manufacturing and marketing calculating instruments in the U.S. by the 1890s, remaining in operation until the 1980s. So far, I haven't located a listing for this particular model (No. 2807), but my guess is that it dates from the early 1900s. I did find several other Keuffel & Esser planimeters of seemingly similar vintage, though, and they ranged in the low hundreds.


Question I found this funny-looking little character in the same area where I dug Dragoons buttons from the 1840s. The metal (pewter?) still has some black enamel, the eyes are tiny green stones, and there's a loop at the top so that it can be worn as a pendant. Who, or what, is he?

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Answer It's a Tiki, a mythological god of the South Sea Islands- specifically, Raivai, the god of good health- and this particular pendant is one of at least 17 different Tikis which were sold by mail for $5-10 apiece, five or six years ago. For all I know, they may still be. Anyway, it won't bring you wealth (that's the job of Tikis like Kaneloa and Obauba), but it should be good for a little "idol" conversation.


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