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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (05/2002) AMP (04/2002) AMP (06/2002)   Vol. 36 May 2002 
Ask Mark Parker!
As seen in the May 2002 edition of W&ET Magazine


Question Searching about 30 miles from Trier, Germany I uncovered this silver coin, a little over 1" in diameter, which I believe to be Medieval but have not managed to identify. Any assistance would be appreciated.

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Answer Our thanks to Benjamin R. Bell of the Classical Numismatic Group, Inc., a leading firm specializing in ancient and Medieval coinage. He identifies your find as a Lowlands (or Low Countries - Brabant and Flanders) double briquet of Maria de Bourgogne. Struck for Limburg in 1478, it is among the earlier coins bearing a full Christian date. The obverse reads, SALW: FAC: PPLm: TVV: DNEE: (an abbreviation of a Latin motto translating something like, "You save the world from its sin, O Lord ") and the date. On the reverse, MARIA: DEI: G: DVCISS: BG: BRAB: Z: LI is an abbreviated titular legend: "Maria, by the grace of God, Duchess of Burgundy, Brabant, and Limburg." Grading Very Fine, the coin could bring as much as $250 in the current collector market.

Readers interested in catalog subscriptions and sales may write to CNG, P. O. Box 479, Lancaster, PA 17068-0479. Phone: (717) 390-9194. E-mail: Website: www.historicalcoins. com


Question I dug this "C. S. A." belt plate near what appears to have been a Confederate camp in southwest Virginia. Can you give me some information as to its rarity and value?

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Answer An "Atlanta Arsenal" variety, it's a solid 5 on a rarity scale of 1-10, and recently I've seen several in similarly nice condition retailing from $2,750 to $3,000+. To learn more about this and other C. S. A. accoutrements, check out Confederate Belt Buckles & Plates by Steve E. Mullinax, a "must" reference for serious Civil War relic hunters and collectors.


Question Mark, I've never seen anything quite like this gold medallion, which shows a man on crutches, with two dogs at his feet. There are ten small stones (possibly white sapphires) at the top and an oval-cut ruby on the left side. The back is marked " .417" and "4 7 ASK." Do you have any idea what it might be?

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Answer It's a religious pendant depicting St. Lazarus of Jerusalem, the patron saint of hospitals, lepers, and the Order of St. Lazarus, a chivalric and humanitarian organization dating back to the Crusades era. Not to be confused with St. Lazarus of Bethany, who was raised from the dead, this Lazarus is the beggar whose story Jesus relates in Luke 16:19-31- and who, according to tradition, was both lame and suffered from leprosy, with dogs for his only comforters. The .417 mark indicates that the pendant is 10K gold; offhand, I'm unable to offer any information about the 47 ASK. Valuation will require direct examination by a reputable jeweler/appraiser.


Question I found this silver-dollar sized watch fob while metal detecting at a private residence in Ripon, Wisconsin, only a couple of blocks away from the building shown on the fob. The inscription on the front is, "Ripon Schoolhouse. Where the Republican Party Was Born in 1854 " On the back is a wreath and a banner or ribbon with the dates 1854 and 1929, and "75th Anniversary of the Founding of the Republican Party - Ripon, Wis." I realize that it's fairly self-explanatory, but I'm hoping you can provide further details.

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Answer On March 20, 1854, at a meeting held in the Ripon Schoolhouse, Major Alvan Earle Bovay, an attorney and well-known Whig, persuaded a majority of local eligible Whig and Free Soil voters to form a new political party. The name "Republican" was chosen, and initially their main aim was to oppose the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, which they believed would lead to the expansion of slavery. Some claim that Bovay himself proposed the name; others give the credit to Jacob M. Howard, chairman of the Resolutions Committee; Joseph Warren, editor of the Detroit Tribune; or famed New York Tribune editor and publisher, Horace ("Go West, young man!") Greeley. As for the fob, it's worth $35-50+, according to a political memorabilia dealer.


Question I recovered this unusual brass artifact at a c. 1850 fort site. Note the open ring or collar at one end, evidently intended to fit around some sort of cylindrical object. Also, it is marked "PAT 699554." Could it be a guard for a rifle muzzle?

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Answer Actually, it's the "sprayer apron" from a hose nozzle that was patented 100 years ago by Horace Falk Neumeyer of Macungie, Pennsylvania. (No, really...) By adjusting the nozzle, the user could cause the "sprayer apron" to contact the solid stream of water flowing through the nozzle, thereby converting the stream into a spray- or something like that. Although there are indeed nozzle aficionados, this lone component seems unlikely to trigger a major bidding frenzy... but I'll bet it was a big deal to ol' Horace back in 1902!


Question I was hunting at a Chicago construction site when I popped up this "Boys Working Reserve" button. Do you know anything about it?

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Answer The Boys Working Reserve was created in 1918, during World War I, as a division of the United States Employment Service, recruiting city youths age 16 or older to supplement the depleted U.S. labor supply, especially in agriculture. Farm training camps were established to help inure the urban teens to the rural rigors awaiting them, and some guidance was also provided for those hoping to obtain jobs in industry. The program was discontinued the following year, when the war ended. Because of the BRW's brief existence, uniform buttons such as this one-which would probably have been worn by an adult officer or administrator in the program- are relatively uncommon. Value? Around $20-25.


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