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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (12/2004) AMP (11/2004) AMP (01/2005)   Vol. 38 December 2004 
Ask Mark Parker!
As seen in the December 2004 edition of W&ET Magazine


Question I was searching a site in South Jersey when I came across what I've been told is a Chinese charm. Unfortunately, I haven't had much luck finding out anything else about it, so I thought I'd let you try.

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Answer As it turns out, we're both in luck! W&ET forwarded the photos to John K. Kallman, a specialist in Oriental numismatics, who readily responded with the answers you're after: "This is a charm/amulet from Korea, as listed in Trial Listing (of) Korean Charms and Amulets by Edgar J. Mandel, the dean of Korean numismatics. Two charms of this type are shown- one, as pictured here, at 41 mm; and another at 39 mm with a mounting lop. They have a Mandel number of 73.3 and 73.4, respectively, and are classified as 'Pictorial, Characters, Open Work.' The obverse reads Chun Wang Jung Wul, 'Spring is King, the first month of the year' (lunar calendar); the reverse, Man Su Mu Gang, 'The Emperor's birthday, eternally.' An approximate date for this charm is c. 1881 A.D. While no values are listed, I would estimate, depending upon condition, a price of $25-50."

Our thanks to Mr. Kallman, who welcomes readers to his website: E-mail: Post: Cash Coin Connection, P.O. Box 122, Sartell, MN 56377.


Question This small metal box has three pictures on it- two people (they may be well known, but I don't recognize them), with a building between- and banners reading, "Columbian Exposition" and "1492-1893 Chicago." It measures 3-1/4" x 1-1/2" x 7/8" and is silver in color, but with some brass or bronze showing through. I'm curious about its history, purpose, and value.

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Answer It's a souvenir trinket box or pin box from the World's Columbian Exposition (Chicago World's Fair) held in 1893, in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the New World. On the lid of the box, the bust is that of Christopher Columbus, the domed structure is the exposition's Administration Building, and the standing figure is Queen Isabella of Spain, who funded Columbus's 1492 expedition across the Atlantic. A box with full, original plating might bring $75-100+; yours, somewhat worn although still attractive, less than $50.


Question Mark, I found this lock in an alfalfa field bordering the Union Pacific right-of-way in central Kansas. Having seen other railroad locks in your column, I thought perhaps you could help me determine how much this one is worth.

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Answer Well, the bold Union Pacific lettering alone clears up any question of its origin; the stamping on its shackle identifies it as a switch lock; and while it's not patent dated or maker-marked, the drop (keyhole cover) gives us a pretty good clue. Similar locks were made for numerous other lines in the early 1900s, and a couple of companies who often added the words Close the Lock to Get Key Out were the Adams & Westlake Co. (a.k.a. Adlake) of Chicago, and the Dayton Mfg. Co. of Dayton, Ohio. Since Union Pacific is well known as the nation's largest railroad, serving 23 states and dating back to the 1860s, we'll skip a rehash of its history here. Value of the lock? Non-dug and working, $300-350; as found, $200-250.


Question I located this item where an old house burned down years ago. The metal is very pitted and, according to a jeweler, is mostly lead with some gold plating. It is 1-7/8" in diameter and seems to have a loop at the top. On one side is a Greek or Roman bust, with a partially illegible inscription: L?ERV? AVCAPM PARTH? MAXIRPVI... On the opposite side is a chariot with a driver and four horses, with an angel above; and at the bottom, COS II SC. If you can, please tell me what it is, how old, and what the words say.

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Answer Your find is a costume jewelry medallion or pendant, probably post-1900, which imitates the design of an ancient Roman coin. (Actually, the only listings I've encountered for the coin on which this piece is based describe it as a forgery of a Roman bronze sestertius.) The obverse portrait is that of Lucius Verus, who ruled as co-emperor with Marcus Aurelius from A.D. 161 to 169. The surrounding legend should be L VERVS AVG ARM PARTH MAX TRP VIIII, and abbreviated form of Lucius Verus Augustus Armeniacus Parthicus Maximus Tribunicia Potestas VIIII, "Lucius Veras, Emperor, Conqueror of Armenia and the Parthians, the Greatest, Power of the Tribune, 9th [year of his reign]." The reverse scene depicts figures from Roman mythology. I believe the figure in the quadriga (four-horse chariot) may be the god Jupiter, with Nike, the winged goddess of victory, above. The inscription beneath, Cos II, means "Consul twice"; SC stands for Senatus Concilium, "By decree of the Senate." As you've no doubt guessed, it has little monetary value in its present state, but it's an interesting find nonetheless- and one that led me a merry chase, too.


Question While detecting on private property at what was once a fort in the Pacific Northwest, I unearthed this P.M.S.S.C. anchor button. My friends and I have worked this site for well over 1,000 man hours and found many military buttons of the 1860s and '70s, but no others like this. Please let us know what you think or can find out about its history.

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Answer It's a uniform button from the Pacific Mail Steam Ship Company (PMSSC), was made by the Scovill Mfg. Co. of Waterbury, Connecticut around 1895, and has a current collector value of $15. The PMSSC was formed in 1848, and as its name implies, its original commercial basis was U.S. mail contracts. Soon it also began offering passage to the California goldfields, and on February 28, 1849, its California reportedly became the first steamship to enter San Francisco Bay. By 1867 its passenger service extended all the way to China and Japan, and many of the West's early Oriental immigrants arrived via the PMSCC. The company remained in operation until 1925, when it was merged into the Dollar Steamship Co., or Dollar Line, which in turn was taken over by the federal government and renamed American President Lines in 1938. In 1952, it was purchased from the U.S. by a group of private investors, and the company continues to operate as American President Lines.


Question Can you tell me anything about this 1929 Knights of Wartburg badge that I dug at an old farm in Tolono, Illinois?

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Answer It's related to Wartburg College, a Lutheran institution whose athletic teams are known as the Knights. Founded in 1852, the college has had several locations. The name Wartburg is said to have been adopted when the campus was situated in rural St. Sebald, Iowa, because the wooded countryside there reminded the college founder, Georg Grossman, of the Thuringian Forest in his native Germany, where Wartburg Castle stands. At the time the badge was issued, the campus was in Clinton, Iowa; in 1935 it was relocated to Waverly, Iowa, where it remains today. The emblem in the center of the shield- a cross within a heart upon a rose, enclosed by a ring- is the Seal of Martin Luther. Sometimes referred to as the Luther Rose, it was designed by Luther himself as an expression of his theology and faith, and has long been used as a symbol of the Lutheran Church throughout the world. So far, I've found no published price for your badge; but if you could manage to locate a collector of Wartburg College memorabilia, an offer of $25 or more wouldn't be unreasonable.


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