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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (08/2005) AMP (07/2005) AMP (09/2005)   Vol. 39 August 2005 
Ask Mark Parker!
As seen in the August 2005 edition of W&ET Magazine


Question This one-piece brass button has a seven-pointed star on a lined background within a double-ringed border, and is backmarked "Rich Gold Color." Anything you can tell me about it would be appreciated.

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Answer Some sources have identified it as a pre-Civil War (c. 1830s-40s) Cherokee Nation button from North Carolina. The seven-pointed star, a traditional Cherokee symbol, is said to represent the seven sacred directions and the nation's seven clans. These buttons have also turned up at Civil War camps and battle sites, and been cited as evidence of the presence of Cherokee troops who fought for the Confederacy. Other authorities consider this attribution tenuous at best. While there is also some disagreement about value- one price guide puts it in the $30-50 range- a number of these buttons have sold for $200-250+.


Question While metal detecting, my wife and a friend of ours found this religious pin. It bears two dates in Roman numerals, MCCXXXI (1231) and MCMXXXI (1931) and the inscription "S. ANTONI PATAVINI VILAB OBITV SAEC. SOLEMN RED. " The back is marked, "F. M. LORIOLI & CASTELLI, MILANO ITALIA..." Could you please tell us its origin, history, and value?

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Answer It was issued in 1931 to mark the 700th anniversary of the death of St. Anthony of Padua, who is shown standing before the domes and spires of the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua, Italy. Born Fernando de Bulhões, into a wealthy family in Lisbon, Portugal in 1195, he entered a religious order at age 15, later taking the name Anthony when he became a Franciscan. During his brief life he gained great fame as a preacher and teacher, was declared a saint less than one year after his death in 1231, and in 1946 became one of the very few Roman Catholic theologians to be honored as a Doctor of the Church. Beloved by Catholics as the patron saint of the poor and oppressed, he is also the patron of seekers of lost articles. As for the pin, it was made in Milan, Italy by Lorioli & Castelli, a firm which specialized in medals, pins, badges, and military insignia in the WWI-WWII period. I couldn't come up with a published price for this one, but did find several other 1930s Lorioli & Castelli pins, both religious and secular, listed at €12-20, or about $15-25 U.S.


Question Mark, this item was dug near an old ferry crossing on the Brazos River in Waco, Texas. I've tried everything I can think of to research it, but haven't been able to find out what it is or was used for. It's about 1-7/8", made of brass, and consists of two identical pieces folded over and joined with a couple of copper rivets. The face reads, "ODELL'S / MARKING B CHECK / 39869 / PATENTED / AUG. 31, 1869." What is it?

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Answer Back in the days when cotton was king, bale-switching became a serious problem. By removing or altering marks on bales of good-quality cotton which were received for shipping, storage, or processing, crooks could substitute inferior bales, and the planter or consignor would be paid the low-grade price. To prevent such chicanery, S. W. Odell of Ouachita Parish, Louisiana came up with the idea of a "metallic spring-check" or stamped tag like the one you found, which could be attached to the one of the bands around the bale in such a way that it could not be "accidentally" lost or removed. Since the tags were individually numbered and letter-coded, switching was virtually impossible. Odell was granted a patent (#94,334) for the system in 1869. Although collectors don't seem to have cottoned to these tags, it's probably worth at least a few bucks, just as a "whatzit ."


Question A friend of mine found this 7-1/4" red & silver toy race car. The red part is cast iron and has the number 22 on it; the silver-colored part seems to be aluminum. I think it might be a Vindex toy, but I'm not sure. Do you recognize it?

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Answer It was made by the Hubley Mfg. Co. and, I believe, dates from the 1940s. In the past, I've seen a couple of dealers' ads suggesting that it was an Indianapolis 500 souvenir toy, but I can't find any documentation to support that claim. Also, if it were, I would expect it to be modeled on one of the famous Indy winners, but no #22 has ever won there. In excellent to near mint condition, this toy can be worth $150-175. (The highest price I've seen was just under $250, but trust me... that's super-steep.) On the other hand, some grading Good to Fine have brought less than $35 on eBay. Let's split the difference. With a bit of light oxidation and less than half the original paint- don't repaint it!- but all four tires intact, it could still be a $50+ find.


Question I uncovered this unusual medallion while searching around a rural home in Washington State. It's about 1-1/16" x 1-5/8", and has an anchor & chain, crossed swords, and a raised five-pointed star on the front. It still has the clasp on the back. Can you identify it?

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Answer What you've got is an Imperial Japanese Military Veterans Association membership badge. It was presented to those who served against the Allies, China, Korea, or Manchuria during WWII. Value? $20-30+.


Question I would like information concerning this Chinese amulet that I located in a local park.

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Answer Since I know lamentably little about Oriental numismatics, your question was relayed to John K. Kallman- - a specialist in that field. Here's his answer:

"The side of the charm with several columns of characters is considered to be the obverse and translates as, 'May the wrath of the God of Thunder destroy the devils and send down purity! May bogies be killed and thus free us from evil influences and keep us eternally safe! Receive this command from T'ai-shang Lao-chun (i.e., Lao Tzu) and let it be executed as fast as Lu Ling ( a famous runner of the time of Mu Wang, 10th century B.C.)!' The reverse bears the eight trigrams of Fu Hsi, with corresponding Chinese characters. Despite its historic references, this piece is obviously of much more recent origin, having been produced by a machine rather than cast as such an item would have been in ancient times- and, of course, it is not worth as much. That said, it's still a nice item, and I would value it at $10."


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