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


Question Mark, I dug this heart-shaped medal in Arizona. In the center is a prospector's pack mule surrounded by, "Moffat Road Celebration, July 4-6, Kremmling, Colo., 1906." Is it railroad or mining related, or both? Also, is it complete, or is there something missing?

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Answer In late 1902, David Moffat began building the Denver, Northwestern & Pacific Railroad, which was projected to link Denver and Salt Lake City. Although the "Moffat Road" was fated never to reach its ultimate destination, in 1906 it did arrive in the little ranching town of Kremmling, Colorado, just in time for an Independence Day celebration. A century or so ago, heart pins or badges were quite popular, so it's no surprise that one was issued for the occasion. What's missing from yours is a little hanger bar with the word Souvenir. (There may have been a backing ribbon as well.) Luckily, the bar was a stock (generic) item used on many other badges, so obtaining a replacement is a definite possibility. Ordinarily, heart badges are worth around $25-35; however, this one's unique history enhances its value tenfold. A complete Moffat Road badge brought $325 at auction last year. As found, and with good potential for restoration, yours should be worth $250+ - and if you can manage to "raise the bar," you'll raise the price by $50-100.


Question After a storm with major erosion on the beach at Jupiter, Florida, I found this medallion. It is undated, although there is a number on the edge: 5832. What is it, how old is it, and how much is it worth, if anything? By the way, there are several shipwrecks offshore, some dating as far back as 1659.

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Answer Your find is a Spanish Campaign Army Service Medal, authorized in 1918 for all members of the U.S. Army (regulars, volunteers, and state regiments) who served at least 90 days during the Spanish-American War and shortly thereafter, in locations other than active theaters of operation in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines. (Those who served in active theaters of operation were eligible for the Spanish Campaign Medal instead.) Medal #5839 was issued to Samuel L. Williams of the 5th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Co. L, which was organized in Cleveland on April 26, 1898. At the time of his enlistment, Williams, age 25, was a private and stated that his home was in Negauna, Michigan. The regiment was ordered to Florida, first to Tampa and later to Fernandina, where they remained until an armistice between the U.S. and Spain was reached on August 12. They left Fernandina the following month, returning to Cleveland, and were given a 30-day furlough. In early November the regiment was mustered out, even though the war would not officially end until the Treaty of Paris was signed on December 10, 1898. Despite some saltwater pitting and spotting, your medal is worth $50 or more, and would bring several times that amount if non-dug, with original ribbon brooch, in fine or better condition.

Our thanks to Andrew H. Lipps of Wartime Collectables Military Antiques - - through whose expertise the recipient of the medal was identified; and to Patrick McSherry, editor of the Spanish American War Centennial Website - - whose invaluable research brought to light much additional information about both Samuel L. Williams and the unit in which he served.


Question A friend found this octagonal token which is about 1" in size and hand stamped " PE / PRESI / DIO" and "25c." He speculates that "PE" stands for Post Exchange, and that it is a 25¢ token from the Presidio. Do you have any information about it?

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Answer As far as I can determine, it's unlisted, although "Post Exchange" seems a reasonable guess for PE, and octagonal tokens of similar size were reportedly in use both at the Presidio of San Francisco and the Presidio of Monterey, California in the late 1800s and early 1900s. So, I suppose it's possible that this piece was locally hand-stamped by someone (no, not the Post Impressionist!) in that era. The only problem is that there are a lot of plain, denominated and nondenominated blank tokens of similar style, and the same lettering could just as easily have been banged out on a basement workbench, say, five or ten years ago. Genuine Presidio octagonal tokens can retail for $200+. Unfortunately, without solid authentication, there is no way to put a price tag on this one.


Question I live in an area of Utah that was originally an old mining town, and right around the corner I found an 1874 Utah saloon token and this "Medical Staff" button. It is backmarked " • JENNENS Co • LONDON" - a very old maker, I believe. Can you identify it further?

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Answer It's a British Army Medical Staff Corps button, c. 1855-98. Now known as the Royal Army Medical Corps, they were called the Medical Staff Corps from 1855 to 1857, when they became the Army Hospital Corps. In 1884 the name was changed to Army Medical Staff Corps, and the current designation was adopted in 1898. The firm which made the button, Jennens & Co. of London, England, was in existence by 1800, and remained active until 1924. Value? $15-20.


Question This booklet titled "The Star Amateur Electrician" was hidden away in the bottom of an oak dresser that I bought. There is no author's name or date, but it looks pretty old The cover states that it was "Published by Johnson Smith & Co., Detroit, Mich.," but inside is, "Copyright W. D. Boyce Co." It has a gray cover, is about 4" x 5-1/2", and contains 66 pages of electrical hobby projects. Know anything about it?

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Answer The Star Amateur Electrician was originally released by the W. D. Boyce Co. in 1907. William Dickson Boyce was a prominent entrepreneur and publisher, and is best known for founding the Boy Scouts of America and Lone Scouts of America. Your find, a Johnson Smith Co. reprint, was issued sometime after that mail order merchandiser moved from Racine, Wisconsin to Detroit Michigan in 1935. It's unclear exactly when they first began reprinting the Star series (other titles included The Star Toy Maker and The Star Money Maker), but these booklets appeared in their catalogs at least as early as 1929. Originally, they sold for 10¢ apiece, and they were still available for 15-25¢ in the 1950s. Reprints like this one generally go for $10+ in Very Good condition.


Question Please identify this strange foreign coin. It's made of copper and about the size of a quarter. One side has sort of a three-armed pinwheel, with the inscription "STROMEK - ALIANORE - TRIMARIS." The other side has what looks like an "HI" or "IH" monogram in the center, and "SANCTA HILDEGARDENSIS ¢." I don't have a clue, do you?

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Answer What you've got is a modern fantasy token issued by the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc. (SCA), an organization dedicated to researching and recreating Medieval arts, crafts, lifestyles, and experiences. Called baraks, the tokens are issued for the SCA's University of St. Hildegarde in the Shire of Windwic - better known elsewhere as an area in Klickitat County, Washington - and bear its +H emblem. The ¢-like symbol is actually the IC monogram of His Lordship Ian Cnulle, Guild Master of the Monier's Guild of An Tir. Your token was issued in 1998, and the "pinwheel" is said to be a "triskeles of waves." Trimaris, Latin for "Three Seas," refers to the SCA's Kingdom of Trimaris, or Florida, and the three seas are the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Straits of Cuba. The other words in the legend are the names of Trimaris's King Stromek and Queen Alianore. What's it worth? Well, a barak's as good as a buck, I guess: that's what SCA members pay for them, to use as a medium of exchange at annual festivals and other events. Good lucke to ye!


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