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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (11/2001) AMP (10/2001) AMP (12/2001)   Vol. 35 November 2001 
Ask Mark Parker!
As seen in the November 2001 edition of W&ET Magazine


Question Mark, could you please date this British 74th Regiment cross-belt plate and estimate its value?

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Answer It's of a style in use during the early 19th century, and if it were from a regiment with documented North American service during the War of 1812, it would probably be priced around $2,000-2,500. The only problem is, the 74th was elsewhere at that time. They were ordered to the Peninsular War in Spain in 1810, and continued there until 1814, when they were sent to Ireland. Not until four years later does there appear to be any record of their being in North America: between 1818 and 1829, they were reportedly in Canada, and also in Bermuda, at various times. Inasmuch as it's "a little late to the dance," the plate's appeal to U.S. collectors is somewhat diminished, but it might still bring $1,250-1,500- that is, if it's the real deal. Not long ago, I heard of an identical example, variously alleged to have been picked up at a flea market or bought on eBay, which on examination proved to be a reproduction. Since you didn't say where, or whether, you dug this one, I can only hope that it isn't bogus as well. British War of 1812 / Napoleonic Wars cross-belt plate replicas are readily available for $35-45.


Question I found this piece at the site of a recently demolished old house. It's made of brass and is 28 mm in diameter. One side has "U. S. V. 2," a crossed-rifles Infantry insignia, and "OHIO"; the other, "Enlisted for Spanish American War, Camp Bushnell, Columbus, O., May 10, 1898. Mustered out, Camp Fornance, Macon, GA., Feb. 1899." Do you have any information about it?

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Answer This 2nd Ohio Spanish-American War veterans medallion is the main portion of a badge which was likely issued upon, or shortly after, their return from service. When new, the badge would have had a pinback hanger at the top, probably in the shape of the unit's Army corps badge (1st Corps). Note the similarity of this 1st Maryland medallion suspended from a 2nd Corps badge:

The fact that the badge is incomplete- and also that the 2nd Ohio saw no combat, remaining in the U.S. throughout the war- makes it a little less collectable, but it's still worth $50 or so, and could well bring more from someone with a special interest in its history.

Many thanks to veterans memorabilia specialist Everitt Bowles for the 1st Maryland badge photos. Incidentally, if you don't have it bookmarked already, head on over to his website sometime soon. It's a good 'un!


Question The bust on this foreign medal is surrounded by the words, "LUDWIG II K‘NIG V. BAYERN." On the back are numbers which I believe to be dates- 25.8.1845-13.6.1886- a shield, and a signature. Please identify it if possible.

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Answer The inscription is German for, "Ludwig (or Louis) the Second, King of Bavaria," and that, of course, identifies the image. The dates August 25, 1845 and June 13, 1886 mark his birth and death. Often referred to as the "Mad King," as well as "The Fairy Tale King," "The Swan King," and "The Dream King," Ludwig II became ruler of Bavaria at 18. Power, politics, and affairs of state held little interest for him, and instead he devoted much of his time- and Bavaria's wealth- to the arts. He spent vast fortunes on the construction and opulent furnishings of three castles, and was also a generous patron to such celebrated talents as composer Richard Wagner. These excesses ultimately provided a pretext for declaring him insane, and he was imprisoned in his own castle. Less than a week later he escaped, and both he and his physician, Dr. Gudden, were found drowned in nearby Lake Starnberg. The official verdict was that Ludwig II had committed suicide, and that Gudden died trying to save him. Those loyal to him suspected foul play, however, and the mystery remains. Your medal may have been issued immediately after his death, or on some later memorial occasion. Value is also uncertain, with no published prices available; but one dealer suggests $50, and more if it's silver.


Question I found this copper coin at an old Pennsylvania farmhouse. On one side are the words, "United States Mint. First Steam Coinage. Mar. 23, 1836." Any details of its history would be appreciated.

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Answer Development of the steam-powered press, with triple the production capability of its brute-force screw press predecessor, was certainly cause for celebration at the U.S. Mint in 1836. A grand unveiling and demonstration of the new machinery was originally slated for February 22, to coincide with Washington's birthday. Unfortunately, gremlins got into the gears, and the big event had to be postponed until March 23, when apparently it went off without a hitch. At that time they struck a number of these commemorative medals, which were the same size as U.S. large cents. The obverse features a Liberty cap "in a glory" (i.e., surrounded by rays), and the reverse is self-explanatory. Later on, in 1862, new dies for the medal were prepared, and the mint began striking them for collectors, a practice which continued for many years thereafter. In fact, they were selling for less than $1 as recently as the 1960s. According to Rich Hartzog (, author of Price Guide for Medals of the United States Mint, an original copper strike of this type would be worth $100-125; a modern restrike, less than $10. Obviously, I can't determine from a rubbing which one you've got, but probability strongly favors the latter.


Question After uncovering this 2-5/8" x 4-1/2" brass plate in a park north of Marietta, Ohio, I tried to do some research on it but struck out. What, exactly, did the "Austin Mfg. Co. Builders" build?

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Answer Frederick C. Austin was a well-known manufacturer of graders and other road equipment in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. An 1890 trade publication article indicates that his firm also made rock- and well-drilling machinery and pumps. The original Austin road machines were not self-powered, but made to be pulled by horses or tractors; however, I found a reference to an "Austin Heavy Duty Motor Graders" catalog published in 1925, five years after the company founder sold his business to pursue other interests. And the value? A collector of similar tags from wagons, buggies, and farm equipment guesstimates that it might go for $10-20, but can't recall seeing any actual prices paid for Austin tags.


Question This small pin has "1st CONG'L" on a banner, and a cross & crown beneath with the letters "S S" on either side. On the back there is a smaller version of the cross & crown with "Little's" above and "System" below. Any idea what it might be?

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Answer It's a Sunday School (SS) pin, awarded for quarterly or yearly perfect attendance. Wreaths &/or bars can be attached for additional years or increments (5, 10, 20 years, etc.), and a "Cross & Crown" diploma is often awarded with the first year pin. "1st Cong'l" is an abbreviation of "First Congregational," and pins like this typically bear the name of the issuing denomination or local church. Little's pins are, or were, supplied by the Uncas Manufacturing Company, Inc. of Providence, Rhode Island, makers of rings and costume jewelry. As Uncas was established in 1911, that's presumably the earliest possible date for the pin. At any rate they've been around, pretty much unchanged, for generations; so, it's hard to say just when yours might have been presented. Similar pins are sometimes awarded for scripture knowledge and memorization, or other Sunday School related achievements. (I think I may have received one for "Boy Best Serving as a Bad Example.") Lately, I've seen "Cross & Crown" pins offered in collectibles catalogs for $5+ in nice condition, and of course brand-new ones can be bought for even less. Then again, as an old preacher friend pointedly reminds me, "They can also be earned!"


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