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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (03/2002) AMP (02/2002) AMP (04/2002)   Vol. 36 March 2002 
Ask Mark Parker!
As seen in the March 2002 edition of W&ET Magazine


Question What can you tell me about this cast pewter button that was found in a plowed field near Lock Haven, Pennsylvania? The button has a crude representation of a horse and rider on the front and is about 9/16" in diameter.

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Answer A seldom-seen variety believed to date from the Revolutionary War, its origins are uncertain. Probably military and of American manufacture, this and similar examples have been tentatively attributed by some as Continental Light Dragoons or American Dragoons buttons. Like yours, nearly all are cuff size; however, at least one coat-size specimen has been reported. Even without more definite identification, it's easily worth $250-300, according to a couple of experts consulted by W&ET.


Question Many years ago, a friend gave me this crucifix. Measuring 2-1/8" x 4-1/4", it is made of brass or bronze, with wood inlay. I was always curious about why it had a skull & crossbones at the bottom, but had no luck researching it. I recall seeing a similar one in your magazine a while back, so I thought I'd ask if you have any information about it.

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Answer First of all, for the benefit of a few readers who, in the past, have leapt to a rather curious conclusion, no, it is not a "pirate's cross." Actually, such crucifixes aren't uncommon, but the symbolism of the skull & crossbones beneath the feet of Christ is often misunderstood. The usual assumption is that they simply represent His victory over death, but there's a bit more to it than that. Both names for the site of the crucifixion, Calvary and Golgotha, relate to the word skull. In addition, there's an apocryphal (non-biblical) tradition that Adam was buried there. Thus, the skull and bones are said to represent Adam-the original, sinful, mortal man- and also to emphasize Christ's role as the "new Adam" (Romans 5:12-19 and I Corinthians 15:45-47) bringing salvation and resurrection to mankind. I hope this clears up the mystery for you.


Question I found this gun while detecting along a blacktop road in western Colorado. It appears to be a .22 caliber single-shot, lever-action rifle that has been shortened. The markings are as follows: -?- A & T Co. / Chicopee Falls, Mass. USA / Marksman-12. As indicated, part of the manufacturer's name is unreadable. I would be interested to find out the full name, and approximately when the gun was made.

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Answer The J. [Joshua] Stevens Arms & Tool Company produced their Marksman Rifle No. 12 from 1911 to 1930. Marketed as a modestly priced, lightweight firearm of the type commonly classified as "boys' rifles," it was available in three calibers: .22 (the most popular), ..25, and .32. If it were complete and in good condition, it would retail around $125-150. Sawed off as shown, it might bring $35-50.


Question I found this shiny copper medal (26 mm) in the sawdust of a school playground. One side, picturing a round building with columns, is inscribed,"BEFREIUNGSHALLE KELHEIM 1842 - 1863"; the other, bearing a coat of arms, reads,"Freistaat Bayern." What's the language? Country? Building? Significance of the dates? Help!

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Answer It's a souvenir medal from the Liberation Hall (Befreiungshalle in German) at Kelheim in Bavaria (Bayern). Commissioned by King Ludwig I, the hall was built as a memorial honoring those who fought in the War of Liberation- and, in particular, 18 of its most famous generals- to free Bavaria from Napoleonic rule. The cornerstone was laid in 1842, and after numerous complications and delays the hall was at last completed and dedicated on October 18, 1863. Just when the medal was issued, I can't say; however, the Freistaat Bayern ("Free State of Bavaria") reverse presumably puts it post-1946, and my guess is that it's been struck, or restruck, much more recently. Value? Under $10.


Question Please identify this brass watch fob that I found on an old beach in New York. The front has a large, upturned horseshoe framing a man with a horse, and says, "She Was Bred in Old Kentucky." On the back is, "Used for the Past 12 Years by the U. S. Marine Hospital Service. Highest Awards * Paris, 1900; St. Louis, 1904; Liege, 1905; Portland, 1905; Milan, Italy, 1906; Jamestown, 1907."

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Answer It's an advertising fob for Green River whiskey- also proudly proclaimed as, "The Whiskey with No Regrets"- a product of J. W. McCulloch Distillers in Owensboro, Kentucky. The cities and dates are those of world's fairs where, apparently, Green River received awards for excellence. Check popular price guides and catalogs of the last few years, and chances are that you'll find this fob listed anywhere from $25 to $250! Realistically, though, it's worth about $35-50, retail. Remember, big price tags are easy to find... big bucks aren't.


Question Mark, could you please tell us what kind of badge this is? It has "Captain Midnight" and "Secret Squadron" beneath the eagle at the top. In the center is a propeller, surrounded by a circle of letters, and outside that is a circle of numbers. The center portion turns. The badge is made of brass, in very nice condition, and still has the pin on the back.

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Answer Congratulations! You're now among the select few who possess the genuine, official, and utterly amazing Captain Midnight Mystery Dial Code-O-Graph! Offered in 1941 as a premium of the popular Captain Midnight radio program, sponsored at that time by Ovaltine, it was the first of eight or more decoders issued during the series' ten-year run. Equipped with their trusty Code-O-Graphs, eager young recruits to the Secret Squadron could warm up the ol' Crosley or Atwater Kent, tune in, and unscramble all sorts of cryptic messages (usually boosting Ovaltine) transmitted by the intrepid Captain and his cohorts. Kid stuff? Maybe... but your find's worth $60-70 in Fine condition. No kidding.


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