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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (06/2007) AMP (11/2006) AMP (10/2007)   Vol. 41 June 2007 
Ask Mark Parker!
As seen in the June 2007 edition of W&ET Magazine


Question Mark, I dug this button by a cellar hole and thought it was a Washington Inaugural button, as it is listed in my Albert's book as such. However, I have had a few people tell me that a true Washington Inaugural button says "G. W." or "George Washington" on it. What are your thoughts on this, and can you give me a value for it?

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Answer This familiar "Eagle with Star" variety- it appears to be #WI 12C, with 63 marks- has long been recognized as a Washington Inaugural button. The idea that the button must bear George Washington's name or initials in order to be considered an inaugural variety is simply not supported either by history or consensus. In fact, following that line of reasoning, the only "true" Washington Inaugural button would be #WI 1, "Eagle with Date," bearing the legend, "MEMORABLE ERA MARCH THE FOURTH 1789"- the date originally designated by Congress for the inauguration, although it actually had to be postponed until April 30. (Note: there is an example of #WI 11 which is dated "30 April, 1789"; however, the date is incised and is thought to have been added later.) What's it worth? Numerous #WI 12's have appeared in recent months, and it is probably only a matter of time before prices begin to decline accordingly. At least for now, though, they seem to be holding their value pretty well, and a button like the one you found could easily retail around $1,250-1,500.


Question My sister found what we think may be an old Navy buckle in a western Pennsylvania cornfield. Anything you can tell us about it (age, value, etc.) would be appreciated.

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Answer It's a late 19th century belt plate worn by a member of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), an organization for Union veterans of the Civil War. In the center of the plate is a monogram or cypher composed of the letters GAR, and in the corners are the insignia of the major branches of service: artillery, crossed cannons; cavalry, crossed sabers; infantry, crossed rifles; and navy, fouled anchor. It may have been manufactured by the Ames Sword Company, a firm which supplied not only the military but many paramilitary organizations, academies, and fraternal orders. A plate of the same design reportedly appears in their 1885 catalog. Common GAR belt plates can command $75-150+. The condition of your sister's find would put it at the lower end of that price range.


Question I picked up this slightly damaged token while detecting at a modern park in Simi Valley, California. It was near the surface, and since a flea market had recently been held there, I'm guessing that a vendor dropped it. It's about the size of a quarter, with "Prince Edward Island 1857" on the obverse, and "Self Government and Free Trade" on the reverse. If possible, I'd like some details of its history, and of course its value.

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Answer This is one of at least eight varieties of tokens, some dated 1855 and others 1857, attributed to George and Simeon Davies and Henry Haszard, all of whom had business interests and held government offices on Prince Edward Island. Such tokens helped to facilitate trade at a time when Canada did not yet have its own coinage, and official Crown (British) coins were often in short supply. Although no denomination is indicated, it is generally listed as a halfpenny token. The damage that you cite does indeed appear to be just that, and not any sort of minting error. I found several like yours offered for $7-15 in Very Good to Very Fine condition.


Question I detected this "Blood & Fire" S-shaped emblem in Hamilton, Nevada, and am wondering if it might be from the Civil War. A lot of the soldiers came out to the mining country of Nevada. Do you know anything about it?

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Answer It was worn by a soldier, all right, but one who served under another banner. It's a collar insignia from a Salvation Army uniform. "Blood & Fire" is the Salvation Army motto: "Blood for the death of Jesus which saved Christians from sin. Fire for the power of the Holy Spirit which helps Christians live holy lives." According to their official website, "The S on the uniform stands for Saved to Save and Saved to Serve." A vintage collar with a pair of these insignia recently brought $9.99.


Question Hidden among some old family papers was this Confederate $500 bill. It's somewhat yellowed but otherwise in excellent condition. The back is blank. I always thought Confederate money was supposed to be worthless, but I found several like this one on eBay for $350-550. Is mine worth that much, too?

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Answer Bad news is best kept brief. Fact: fake. This well-known c. 1960s replica, readily recognizable by its serial #16760, was printed on papyrine or "vegetable parchment," a kind of paper chemically treated to give it an antique appearance. It's about as far from face value as it can get... maybe $1-2.


Question I came up with this nickel-size medal while coinshooting at a Denver, Colorado park. The front reads, "Chicago Tribune AA Golden Gloves Tournament"; the back is blank. How old is it, and how much is it worth?

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Answer A. My best guess is that it's from the late 1920s or early '30s. Accounts vary, but the first Golden Gloves tournament of the Chicago Tribune Athletic Association seems to have occurred around 1923-26, and in 1928, the Tribune's team competed against one sponsored by the New York Daily News at a tournament held in Chicago. Assuming it's not something like a key fob, the medal probably was suspended from a ribbon and hanger bar, as were other Tribune AA medals of that era. There was also a lapel pin of identical design, but slightly smaller. Late last year a medal like yours was erroneously listed on a popular internet auction site as a "19th century Chicago Tribune Athletic token," and priced at $99. Not surprisingly, there were no takers. Medals of the '30s often sell for $10-20+, as does the lapel pin. So, I would expect your medal to fetch as much or more.


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