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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (04/2009) AMP (02/2009) AMP (06/2009)   Vol. 43 April 2009 
Ask Mark Parker!
As seen in the April 2009 edition of W&ET Magazine


Question While metal detecting in Mississippi, I dug this button. It is a little larger than a nickel, two-piece, and convex. Can you identify it?

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Answer Okay, let's make this official: step outside, take a deep breath, and rip off a rousing Rebel yell! What you've got is a Confederate States of America infantry button- specifically, the lined old English "I" variety cataloged by Albert as #CS 177. Assuming that the shank is intact and there are no other problems, it could retail anywhere from $150 to $250, depending on whether the back is blank, quality backmarked (e.g., "Treble Rich / Standard"), or bears a company backmark such as "Courtney & Tennent" or "S. Isaacs Campbell & Co / London / 71 Jermyn. St." In any case, it's a dandy discovery. Display it with pride!


Question Hunting at an old railroad town that once had an army camp nearby, my partner found this item. It is steel, 6-1/2" long, 2-3/4" at the pointed end, 2" at the other end, and 1/2" thick. The point doesn't seem to have seen much use, but the back of the wedge or blade shows signs of considerable hammering. What is it?

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Answer Your friend's find is a clinch cutter, a farrier's tool used to cut or raise "clinches," the ends of nails on the outside of a shod horse's hoof. Clinches, which are bent against the hoof to help keep the shoe securely in place, have to be straightened or removed before the shoe is pulled off. The blade of the tool is positioned under the clinch and then struck with a hammer. The point, which is used to raise or punch out nails, also serves as a hoof pick. Like horses and horseshoes, clinch cutters may seem old fashioned to some, but they're still around, and you can buy a brand new one for $20 or so. As a relic of indeterminate age, this one would likely fetch less.


Question Here are a few examples of 17 Post Toasties and Post Raisin Bran cereal prizes that I found. All of them depict comic strip characters: Dagwood, Popeye, Tillie the Toiler, Felix the Cat, Skeezix, Flash Gordon, Andy Gump, etc. Some of them are still in their original wrappers but they are beginning to get specks of rust around the edges. I'm wondering if they were toy bracelets, as a few have holes in the ends to put a string through.

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Answer They may be zanies from the Sunday funnies, but they've got some serious value! These Post cereals tin litho premium rings from 1948-49 came packaged with the product, one per box... no box tops, coupons, or cash to send in. Some were issued with holed ends; some weren't. Unbent and with only minor rust, most of yours will grade at least Fine. That means even the average ones could go for $25-35 apiece, and some- for example, Popeye, Felix the Cat, and Flash Gordon- are easily worth $75-100. In Near Mint to Mint condition, a few of the scarcest might top $200.


Question This token or tag came out of a dump at a coal mining town. One side says, "THE VICTOR FUEL COMPANY / / CHANDLER, COLO."; the other, "IDENTIFICATION CHECK. MUST BE SHOWN WHEN ASKED FOR." What is its history, and its value?

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Answer As indicated by the inscriptions, it's a miner's or other employee's tag, the space between the upper and lower lettering on the front presumably to be stamped with an ID number. Named for Asa C. "Ace" Chandler- who lived in the area from 1861 to 1863, then left to enlist in the Confederate army, never to return- Chandler, Colorado was a coal mining "company town" of the Victor Fuel Co. in the early 1900s. Officially incorporated in 1902, the town remained in existence until 1942, when the mine closed. Although I located a few listings for tags like yours, no pricing information was provided. (One listed on eBay in the U. K. had a starting bid of £5, or about $7.87 U.S., but evidently did not sell.) A well-known dealer told W&ET the tag might bring $20+ from a collector with a special interest in the company &/or locality.


Question Long ago, my grandfather came across this object in one of his farm fields, where he also found many Indian artifacts. It is 1-5/8" in diameter, quite heavy, and ornately embossed on both sides. The design looks like a plant growing on a trellis. On the top edge are the remains of two wires that have broken or rusted off. Any idea what it might be?

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Answer It's an old timer, all right- or at least part of one. Your hefty heirloom is a "clock bob" or pendulum weight from a 19th century Ingraham mantel clock. The two bits of wire are the remains of a triangular suspension loop, as shown in the lower photo. Ingraham Clocks was founded by Elias Ingraham (1805-85), but in fact during his lifetime clocks bearing the Ingraham name were made by several companies. In 1913, Ingraham began making pocket watches, and wrist watches in 1932. They also introduced electric clocks in the 1930s, and after WWII they no longer produced pendulum clocks. In 1967, the company was bought by McGraw-Edison, which continues to market Ingraham brand electric clocks. Anyway, getting back to the bob, an original one (non-dug, loop intact) might be worth $20 or more. The only problem is, high-quality replicas are readily available for less than $10, and most folks don't mind as long as the replacement looks right. But of course those weren't found, kept around, and handed down by your granddad... and nobody can put a price tag on that.


Question This nameplate was uncovered during street regrading in Brigham City, Utah. It reads, "THE IZZER / MANUFACTURED BY / STUDEBAKER BROS. MFG. CO. / SOUTH BEND, IND. U.S.A." Any information about it would be appreciated.

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Answer Before Studebaker entered the auto industry, they were the world's largest manufacturer of horse-drawn wagons, carriages, and buggies, reportedly selling more than a million between 1868 and 1910. The "Izzer" was one of their buggy models in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the last one rolling off the line in 1919. Various explanations have been offered for its unusual name. Some sources say it was a popular expression meaning competitive or up-to-date: "Yes, sir, she's an Izzer, not a wuzzer!" Others point out that electric streetcars of that era were also called "izzers" because of their sizzling, crackling sound. Interestingly, there were a couple of "Izzer" automobiles in 1910, but neither was a Studebaker: the "Izzer" made by the Mier Carriage & Buggy Co., a.k.a. Mier Model Engine Co., of Peru, Indiana (only three were built); and the "Irvington Izzer" manufactured in Irvington, New York. Studebaker buggy nameplates typically sell for less than $50 in nice condition, and are sought mainly for restoration purposes.


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