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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (06/2005) AMP (05/2005) AMP (07/2005)   Vol. 39 June 2005 
Ask Mark Parker!
As seen in the June 2005 edition of W&ET Magazine


Question At a construction site near an old train depot in Georgia, I unearthed what looks like a wafer press but for some reason has the Great Seal. Any ideas about what it is, or what it might be worth?

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Answer First impressions are usually best, and this one's no exception. Your find is indeed an early American wafer iron or press. Thin, waffle-like wafers were a favorite hearthside treat a couple of centuries ago, prepared by placing a bit of batter between two heated molds or "irons," and eaten with honey or rolled into cones and filled with preserves or other sweets. Floral and fruit motifs were the most common patterns: baskets of flowers, pineapples (in those days, a symbol of hospitality), grapes & vines, etc. Wafer irons bearing ordinary designs typically bring $400-500. However, for this elegant eagle & shield variety, you can just about triple the price. I found listings for two (both with rust and pitting, like yours) in the $1,300-1,400 range and would expect this one to fetch at least as much in a good auction.


Question This 1917 cat tax tag was recovered from a park under renovation near Grand Rapids, Michigan. According to the city historian, the tax was introduced to help curb the local cat population, which had reached an unacceptable level. The tax was 25¢ for males and $1 for females. Over 1,400 tags were sold the first day. Beyond that, details seem to be lacking. Can you tell me whether it has any value?

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Answer The answer you're after comes to us from Wm. J. Bone, DVM, author of the new book U.S. Dog License Tags and Related Exonumia: "Your 1917 Grand Rapids, Michigan cat tag is a nice example of the currently oldest known cat tag from the U.S. Later, Seattle, Washington checked in in the late '20s, and then there is a giant blank until the '50s. Now there are over 30 states that have issued either cat tags or pet tags which cover dogs and cats. If your tag were for sale between two collectors, I would personally ask $50 for it; however, if it's put on eBay... who knows? Incidentally, if you are considering selling it, I would be pleased to put you in contact with the major collector whose interest is primarily in cat tags."

Dr. Bone may be reached by e-mail at Be sure to watch for ordering information for his book here in W&ET.


Question This medal was found at a home in northern Missouri. It reads, "Co. B, 5th Kan. Vol. Cav." and has a crescent moon (with the number 7) and star. I'd like very much to know more about it, and of course its value.

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Answer It's a late 19th or early 20th century badge worn by a veteran of the 5th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, Company B. The crescent & star is the 7th Corps badge or insignia. Mobilized in July 1861, the 5th saw extensive action not only in its home state but also in Missouri and Arkansas. It reportedly had 900 men, including officers, in 1862, and a total of 1,320 during its wartime service, losing four officers and 264 enlisted men before being mustered out in June 1865. When new, the badge had a hanger bar at the top inscribed with the name of the veteran. Unfortunately, that missing piece heavily impacts the price. A complete badge could go for anywhere from $500 to $800+, depending on a number of factors, including the veteran's rank and service record, the condition of the badge, and collector interest. As found, it's closer to $100-200, according to veterans memorabilia specialist Everitt Bowles of

Thanks, Everitt!


Question While detecting with us, a friend found this "N.Y.P. and O. R. R." lock and gave it to my son, 8, who loves railroad items. It's evidently from the New York, Pennsylvania & Ohio Railroad, and the back is marked "L. T. FRI-- Lancaster, PA." (I can't make out the whole last name.) Any information you can give us would be of great help.

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Answer The New York, Pennsylvania & Ohio Railroad, or NYPANO, was created in 1880 from the bankrupt Atlantic & Great Western Railroad. Three years later, it was leased to the Erie Railroad, and in 1896 was sold under foreclosure to the Erie. However, it was not until 1941 that all NYPANO properties were actually transferred to the Erie. This heart-shaped lock dates from around the turn of the last century, and the maker's name is E. T. Fraim. In nice, non-dug condition it would retail for $700+; as is, somewhere between $350 and $500- a handsome gift which your son can display with pride.


Question For some time now, I've wondered about the counterstamp on the face of this silver coin, which is about the size of a quarter. Any info would be appreciated!

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Answer The coin is a Spanish 2 reales of Charles IV (or "IIII" in this instance), and was struck at the mint in Seville (S) in 1793. The initials C and N are those of mintmasters Tiburcio de Roxas and Nicolas Lamas, respectively. The lattice countermark, denoting devaluation due to inflation, was added in the early 19th century for circulation in Cuba. Value? $10-20 in Good to Very Good condition.


Question Please identify this black & white enameled brass medal if possible. It is 7/8" in diameter. On one side there is a cross with a crown on top, a W in the center, and 1914 at the bottom. On the other side is a surfer- or maybe a boxer (?).

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Answer The obverse displays an Imperial German Iron Cross of WWI; the initial W stands for Kaiser Wilhelm II. The figure on the reverse is, as you guessed, a surfer. Sometime in the late 1950s or early '60s, American surfers began using the Iron Cross as a symbol. Some say that it signified courage; others, that it represented rebellion. The truth is, nobody knows for sure, but it remains a popular emblem among surfers and skateboarders today. Iron Cross surfer pendants can be purchased in countless novelty shops and catalogs, and without any maker's mark or other clues, it's difficult to say just how old this one might be. In a quick check of internet vendors, I found quite a few similar pendants, quarter size and smaller, priced at $5-10; so, that's likely the limit for yours, too.


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