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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (04/2002) AMP (03/2002) AMP (05/2002)   Vol. 36 April 2002 
Ask Mark Parker!
As seen in the April 2002 edition of W&ET Magazine


Question I unearthed this eagle buckle in a California gold camp but am having trouble identifying it. Can you help?

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Answer It's evidently the main portion of a c. 1845 Militia officer's two-piece, or "tongue & wreath," belt plate. Although so far I haven't found a listing for it, a virtually identical design appears on a Militia panel plate of the same period. As an apparently heretofore unpublished, or at least highly uncommon variety, it would probably bring $1,000+ if complete; the tongue alone, $400-500.


Question Mark, this crowned-anchor button was detected at an old homesite in Mathews, Virginia. On the back there is a crown above the shank, and the names "Hammond, Turner & Dickinson." Any information about it would be greatly appreciated.

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Answer What you've got is a War of 1812 British Royal Navy officer's button, worth $50 or so in good "dug" condition. The manufacturer, a Birmingham, England firm, used this particular backmark between 1790 and 1820. They also made some early U.S. Navy buttons (e.g., Albert #NA 13).


Question This baggage tag is stamped, "DUNKIRK - 3015 - N.Y. & E. R.R." On the back I think it says, "T. W. Morehouse, J. City, N. J." The research I've done indicates that it's from the New York & Erie Railroad, which was chartered in 1832 and completed to Dunkirk, New York on Lake Erie in 1851. I only wish I knew how the tag ended up in the Iowa town where I found it.

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Answer Sorry, I can't fill in that blank for you, but thanks to Scott Czaja and his terrific TagTown website, I can offer a morsel or two about Morehouse. He was apparently well established as a manufacturer of baggage tags in Jersey City, New Jersey by 1855, and an advertisement lists nearly 40 railroads as customers. Illustrations in the same ad include a bell-shaped N.Y. & E. R.R. "Jersey Cy. to Dunkirk" tag. Since the N.Y. & E. R.R. became the Erie Railway in 1862, it's a safe bet that your tag's 140-150 years old. As for value, let's "guesstimate" it at $250-350.

Readers interested in baggage tags or railroadiana in general- or who just enjoy trolling through excellent material on items likely to be found with metal detectors- should definitely spend some time clicking around TagTown!


Question I was wondering if you could tell me the approximate age and value of this antique silver-plated money clip.

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Answer Well, you could use it to corral your currency, I suppose. However, it's actually the belt clip from a Victorian lady's chatelaine, a sort of multi-accessory affair worn suspended from the waist. Designs varied, but in this case there would have been a ring held in place by the small tab on the front of the clip. Hanging from the ring would be several chains, each attached to some feminine essential: pencil, note pad, watch, scent or smelling salts vial, scissors, mini sewing kit, etc. Better quality silver-plated chatelaines generally range from $200-250 up. Unfortunately, the belt clip alone wouldn't have much value, except as a replacement in restoration.


Question Although I found this lock in a ramshackle shed, I really don't think it's old, but probably just something someone made up. I know the insignia is 7th Cavalry, Co. A. The lock is quite heavy, and there are no manufacturer's marks on it. What's your opinion?

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Answer Pretty much the same as yours. It's a fantasy item, all right, identical to several I've seen lately. A couple were offered at auction with a suggested starting bid of $20, but no one took the bait. I don't know the origin of the lock itself, but a number of other fantasy locks have reportedly come from India. Needless to say, the 7th Cavalry is a natural for such novelties and knockoffs- Indian Wars, Custer, and all that- and I guess no real harm's done as long as no one takes 'em seriously. So... Forward, yo!


Question Could you please tell me if this Wyatt Earp badge is worth anything? It has "© 1957 Wyatt Earp Enter." on the back. The pin is gone.

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Answer This is a "dime store" badge, not a premium, related to The Life & Legend of Wyatt Earp, an ABC-TV series which starred Hugh O'Brian in the title role and ran from 1955 to 1961. (Interestingly, and not necessarily coincidentally, when the show began it focused on Earp's years as marshal of Dodge City... which just happened to be the job description of a fellow by the name of Matt Dillon on rival network CBS's concurrent Gunsmoke.) Wyatt Earp Enterprises was the series' retail marketing division, licensing the manufacture and sale of "official" Wyatt Earp badges, cap pistols, coloring books, etc. With its original card, the badge would have a value of $25-35; without the card, but in Fine or better condition, $12-18.


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