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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (02/2006) AMP (01/2006) AMP (05/2006)   Vol. 40 February 2006 
Ask Mark Parker!
As seen in the February 2006 edition of W&ET Magazine


Question Not long ago, my husband and I took a metal detecting trip to the San Mateo Mountains, where he found this Taylor & Greer, Pecos City, Texas token "Good for 12-1/2¢ at Legal Tender Saloon." It's brass and slightly larger than a quarter. We're hoping that you can find out some details about it, including its value.

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Answer Our thanks to Texas tokens specialist Jerry Adams- - for the following information about your find: "This Pecos City, Texas token is from what is now called Pecos, Texas. It is located in Reeves County, and was founded when the railroad built tracks through the area in 1881. The town was first called Pecos Station, then Pecos City, and finally Pecos. In the 1890s the town developed a reputation for violence after several gunfights occurred there. The Taylor & Greer saloon was located in Pecos City in 1897. The token was first reported as 'also known' in the S-3 supplement of the Texas token catalog series in 1993. The 4th supplement to the Texas token catalog series published in 1997 listed it in detail. Neither book states a value or rarity rating. However, from my 30 years of buying, selling, trading and dealing in Texas tokens, I would price it at $450-500, VF-XF."


Question Please tell me the value of this 1872 edition of the Holy Bible. It has a deeply embossed and ornately gilt leather cover and was published by William W. Harding of Philadelphia

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Answer Because they were typically published in large numbers and far better cared for than other books, antique Bibles often bring a good deal less than most people suppose, and millions of "Harding Bibles"were cherished possessions in American homes of the 19th century. That said, yours appears to be a very nice example and compares favorably with a couple that I found in the $200-250 range. William W. Harding was also editor and publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer for more than 30 years, succeeding his father, Jesper Harding, at the helm of the then-Pennsylvania Inquirer, as well as in the printing of Bibles. The elder Harding had more than one claim to fame, too: in 1840 he became the first American publisher of novelist Charles Dickens, and for a few months in the 1850s he employed a young fellow named Sam Clemens as a compositor in the Inquirer print shop... the same Sam who became Mark Twain.


Question I dug this buckle while detecting at my dad's farmhouse and am wondering if you can tell me something about it.

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Answer Your find is a fraternal belt plate from the turn of the last century. I'm not certain of the issuing organization, as there were literally hundreds in existence at that time, and similar or identical symbols were used by numerous orders. The all-seeing eye represents God and divine watchfulness. Swords can stand for vigilance, justice, fortitude, and defense of one's faith and nation. A candle or flame may denote truth and knowledge, purity, or human mortality. Although now considered an emblem of the medical profession, the caduceus on the plate is in fact an ancient symbol of harmony and balance, and in some traditions also signifies spiritual awakening. I can't comment on the significance of the two birds depicted at the bottom of the plate, but they look as if they might be jays. If so, that could offer a clue to the order, since it's not a commonly used symbol. While lots of fraternal plates retail for less than $50, I suspect that even without full attribution this one might fetch $75-100 from a collector with a penchant for the peculiar.


Question Searching around a foundation dating back to the mid 1800s, I uncovered this eagle's head. It has a socketed base and appears to have been a flag staff finial. Please tell me its history and value.

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Answer Not a pole topper but a low flyer, what you've got is an ornament from the front of a late 19th or early 20th century sleigh. It was mounted on the sleigh's "dash"or dashboard, which shielded the driver from slush and such kicked up by the horse. As a matter of fact, shiny new sleigh eagles can still be purchased for $7-10 apiece; vintage ones, maybe a little more.


Question Mark, what can you tell me about this pendant? It's 2-1/4" wide and 2-1/2" high, and at one time was gold plated. Only a little of the plating remains, however, and the metal is mainly bronze in color. Surrounding a portrait on one side is, "Marie-Therese Duchesse-D'-Angouleme"; on the other, "Caroline Ferdinand Duch-De-Berry."

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Answer So far, I've been unable to locate any listings for it, but I can tell you a bit about the two women whose portraits appear on it. Marie Therese Charlotte was the daughter of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI of France. She became the duchesse d' Angoulême when she married her cousin, Louis Antoine d' Angoulême, son of Charles X. Caroline Ferdinande Louise, duchesse de Berry, was the eldest daughter of King Francis I of Naples, and the wife of Charles Ferdinand, duc de Berry, the younger brother of Louis XVI. So, she was Marie Therese's aunt by marriage. I forwarded the photos to two experts, one in medals and the other in jewelry, and both expressed some doubts about it, suggesting that it might be simply a modern (20th century) fantasy piece designed for use as costume jewelry. However, if it is an authentic item of the period, it would likely have been produced sometime around 1820-40, and its value as a worn but potentially restorable gilt-bronze pendant would reportedly be under $100.


Question I found this Palatka Transfer Co. tag at an old hotel site in Palatka, Florida, along with several coins and a token, all dating between 1888 and 1895. Is it from about the same time period?

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Answer In a word... yes! An 1885 Sanborn Fire Insurance Co. map indicates that the Palatka Transfer Co. building was situated on Water Street in Palatka, and an 1887 publication of the Palatka Board of Trade states, "One of the conveniences for the traveling public is our [Palatka] Transfer Company. It has competent men and is well stocked with horses, omnibuses, and baggage wagons." Transfer companies were generally under contract to railroads &/or other transportation lines to convey passengers, luggage, and freight from depots, docks, or other terminals to hotels, businesses, and residences. It's not unusual for transfer tags of the late 1800s to sell for $25-50, and with Florida exonumia prices on the high side, offers for yours could be even better.


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