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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (05/2003) AMP (04/2003) AMP (06/2003)   Vol. 37 May 2003 
Ask Mark Parker!
As seen in the May 2003 edition of W&ET Magazine


Question My partner and I have been hunting old homesteads in Illinois, and at one of them we recovered this "Maj. Gen. Jos. Hooker 1863" pin. Can you tell us something about it?

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Answer Likely purchased from a sutler or mail order firm, this Civil War patriotic pin may have been worn alone or as a hanger for an ID disc. Although popular with enlisted men, Major General Joseph "Fighting Joe" Hooker was often at odds with other Union military leaders. Apart from certain notorious associations with his name, he is probably best remembered for the Battle of Chancellorsville, where his Army of the Potomac was defeated by General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Hooker was later relieved of his command and reassigned to the Western Theater. Both there and during the Atlanta Campaign with Sherman, he was more effective and successful; but when Sherman passed over him to appoint Major General Howard as commander of the Army of the Tennessee, an angry Hooker asked to be relieved, and Sherman seized the chance to be rid of him. Hooker spent the remaining days of the war uneventfully, and his military career ended when he was mustered out in September 1866. Value of the pin? $200-250.


Question I found this button quite some time ago and have tried to research it, but to no avail. So, now you can have a crack at it... even though it's cracked already! The front shows a grotesque old man surrounded by the words, "THE ONLY COMPETENT PERSON." The back is marked, "TREBLE STAND. EXTRA RICH."

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Answer He may not be too familiar to Americans, but our British readers will instantly recognize the rascally fellow on your find as Mr. Punch of "Punch & Judy" fame. The button dates from the 1840s or '50s- note the "quality" backmark, typical of the period- and is one of at least a dozen varieties based on cartoons from Punch magazine, which was founded in the same period. Accounts differ as to whether Mr. Punch was actually the inspiration for the name of that publication, but when the first issue appeared on July 17, 1841, he was on the cover, and the connection continued for the next 150+ years. Mr. Punch himself (a.k.a. Punchinello) is far older and reportedly debuted in England in the traveling puppet shows of Pietro Gimonde, or Signor Bologna, sometime in the 1660s. If the button were problem-free, it would be worth at least $250-300. Interestingly, some of the cracks seem to follow the figure's outline, possibly the result of a defective strike; but as far as most collectors are concerned, damage is damage, and the price plummets accordingly.


Question Mark, could you please identify this medal, evidently related to King Kamehameha I of Hawaii?

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Answer Issued on June 11, 1919, your souvenir badge is doubly significant. First, June 11 is King Kamehameha Day, an official Hawaiian holiday established in 1871 by Kamehameha V to honor his ancestor, who established the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1810. Second, 1919 marked the centennial of the death of Kamehameha I. The word at the bottom of the badge, Mamalahoe, refers to Mamalahoe Kanaawai - "The Law of the Splintered Paddle," and the battle scene relates to its origin. In 1785, Kamehameha, then a young warrior, raided a village. During the attack, he got his foot stuck in a lava crack, and a fisherman hit him over the head with a canoe paddle, so hard that the paddle splintered. Twelve years later, when Kamehameha was king, the fisherman was brought before him. Instead of punishing the man, he freed and rewarded him, and issued the following edict: "O, my people, honor thy god. Respect alike the rights of all men, great and humble. See to it that our aged, our women, and children [may] lie down to sleep by the roadside without fear of harm. Disobey, and die!" Today, the same law is embodied in the Hawaiian state constitution. According to a specialist in Hawaiian memorabilia, the badge could bring up to $300.


Question While metal detecting at a corner lot in an older section of Albuquerque, New Mexico, I dug what seems to be a baggage tag, stamped "Springer Transfer CO 10 ALBUQUERQUE." A few miles away there is a Springer facility which, as far as I know, has been predominantly a sand & gravel operation. Could the two be related?

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Answer In 1902, Bill Springer started the company as a freight hauler, conveying luggage, parcels, and such between the railroad depot and hotels, businesses, and residences in and around Albuquerque. A couple of years later he was joined by Benny Bennet, and sometime in the 1920s they also got into the sand & gravel business. By the mid '40s they had either created or acquired some 20 firms: Hilton hotels in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, an Allied moving business, truck stops, Mack truck and crane companies, warehouses, a real estate agency and insurance company... in fact, for a while they were said to be the largest privately held corporation in the state, and it all started just over a century ago as a horse & wagon outfit. The tag looks pretty early- maybe 1905-15. Ordinarily, city freighting tags range from a few bucks up to $25, but Western ones can be a little better, and territorial ones a lot better. Unfortunately, yours doesn't have a mark proving that it's pre-statehood; but even so, considering its interesting history, I wouldn't be surprised if it brought $100 or more from a local collector.


Question I pulled this out of a Union 14th Corps campsite in Goldsboro, North Carolina. It looks post-war except for the long attachment pin. The flag is 1/2" x 3/4", and the pin extends another 1-1/2" beyond it. Any chance it could be a corps badge? (I wish!)

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Answer Maybe next time. It's a souvenir stickpin from the Svenska-Amerika Linjen, or Swedish-American Line (SAL). The design of the SAL flag, bearing three gold crowns within a blue circle, was adapted from the national arms of Sweden, which also has three crowns on a field of blue. The SAL ocean liner company began operating in 1915, and since stickpins were becoming less popular by the 1930s, I suspect that yours is around 75-85 years old. I couldn't locate a published value for it, but did find several for pins issued by other European lines, and for other types of souvenirs issued by the SAL. Based on the prices of those items, $25-35 seems a reasonable estimate for this one.


Question Coinshooting in a Staten Island, New York park, I uncovered this medallion. On one side is an eagle, "BICENTENARIO DOS E. U. AMERICA" and the date 1976. On the other, the words "HOMENAGEM DO IMIGRANTE LUSO A SUA PATRIA ADOPTIVA" surround a man who is riding two seahorses, facing the Manhattan skyline, and holding a flag. Made of bronze, it is 3" in diameter and weighs about 10-1/2 oz.

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Answer It was apparently issued by a Portuguese-American organization, in observance of the 1976 U.S. Bicentennial. The inscriptions translate as, "Bicentennial of the United States of America" (E. U. for Estados Unidos) and "Homage of the Portuguese Immigrants to Their Adopted Country." The flag bears the national arms of Portugal. Large, paperweight-size pieces such as this are sometimes referred to as "table medals." Offhand, I'm unable to offer much more information about it, but I did have a chance to discuss your find with leading tokens & medals specialist Rich Hartzog of World Exonumia (, and he indicated that it would probably retail for $35-50.


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