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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (06/2010) AMP (04/2010) AMP (08/2010)   Vol. 44 June 2010 
Ask Mark Parker!
As seen in the June 2010 edition of W&ET Magazine


Question I found this "JAMAICA 1803" uniform crossbelt plate while metal detecting in Delaware. It is oval in shape, 2-3/8" wide x 3-1/8" high, and appears to be made of brass. What is its history and value?

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Answer Exactly how this accoutrement of the Jamaica Militia ended up in Delaware is anybody's guess, but mine is that it arrived there during the War of 1812. Among British forces fighting in the U.S. were units of the West India Regiment, colonial troops which included men recruited or conscripted from the Jamaican Militia. The plate's distinctive design, used on their cartridge box badges as well, has elsewhere been described as "an alligator on a log." To which indignant purists reply, "What a croc!" The reptile is in fact an American crocodile atop a heraldic torse (twisted wreath). There are, it seems, no alligators in Jamaica. At any rate, professional militaria appraiser George Weller Juno- values the plate at $750+. Incidentally, fairly similar fantasy plates have been turning up of late. Bearing a crown beneath JAMAICA, and GR (for Georgius Rex - "King George") between the crocodile and 1803, they're also readily identifiable by different attachments, including a belt loop or bar, on the reverse.


Question Mark, do you recognize this staff-type button? It has the letters H, O, and S in a monogram on a lined field, with a border of stars. The backmark is " * EXTRA * QUALITY." I've been told that it's from the Civil War but it doesn't seem to be in either the military or states sections of any of my button books.

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Answer Don't forget the vet! Check "Other Veteran Organizations" listings in Albert's Record of American Uniform and Historical Buttons, and you'll find it... #VN 63, Ohio Soldiers' Home. (Although Albert notes that it has also been reported as "Soldiers' Orphan Home," the Ohio attribution is generally accepted.) Officially known as the Ohio Soldiers'   Sailors' Home, the institution was authorized by the state legislature in 1886, to care for indigent, honorably discharged veterans of the Civil War. Located at Sandusky, Ohio, it received its first 17 men in November 1888. The button is therefore postwar, and it's worth around $10, retail.


Question This heavy brass "Warranted Superior" button was found, along with an 1836 British half sovereign gold coin, at a site in the Florida Keys. There is no backmark, and the shank eye is missing. Can you help us to identify it?

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Answer Well, it's not a button, but I think we can handle it! It's actually the medallion-head of a bolt from the handle of a late 19th or early 20th century hand saw, and the words "Warranted Superior" are a mite misleading. In addition to their own brand-name, top quality lines, most major saw manufacturers offered unbranded, utility-grade saws, and often these were fitted with "Warranted Superior" handle bolts similar to this one. Its coat of arms combines elements of the British Royal arms and those of the City of Sheffield, England, presumably indicating (or at least implying) that the blade was of Sheffield steel. What's it worth? Monetarily, not much... but it's still a neat find that should display well with other relics of that era.


Question This 1-1/2" oval brass relic, possibly some sort of lid, was dug in the Port Hudson, Louisiana area. Two-piece and quite heavy, it shows a droop-winged eagle on what looks like a coil of rope, surrounded by 13 stars. The back is numbered "1000." Any information, including possible value, would be appreciated.

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Answer What you've got is the pommel cap from the hilt of a Model 1852 Navy officer's sword, a design which, with minor variations, has remained in continuous use right up to the present. Given its recovery location, it's tempting to assume that it's from the siege of Port Hudson; however, an edged weapons expert who examined the photos feels that it dates a little later. Just to be safe, though, let's price it both ways. If it is indeed of the period, it might fetch as much as $100; but if provably postwar, considerably less.


Question What can you tell me about this 1857 E. C. Atkins   Co. token?

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Answer It's the medallion, or "drop," from an advertising watch fob issued a little over 100 years ago. Bearing the portrait of company founder Elias C. Atkins, the figural "buzz saw" medallion was suspended from an ornate metal hanger bar attached to a dark silk ribbon. While the AAA reverse is reminiscent of the familiar American Automobile Association logo, in this case it stands for, "Atkins, Always Ahead." In 1857 Atkins chose Indianapolis as the site of his new saw works, a modest $300 venture that eventually became a multimillion-dollar empire. At one time the largest factory in the world devoted solely to the manufacture of saws and related equipment, Atkins   Co. continued production until at least the 1940s, when both of its Indiana plants were converted to wartime manufacture of armor plate and tools. A complete ribbon fob of this type brought $58.55 at auction. As dug, the medallion alone is probably worth $10-15+.


Question I found this Masonic token in my brother's yard, just outside of Albany, New York. The front reads, "Rolled at Pan-American Exposition - 1901." The back is blank. I know that the expo was held in Buffalo, New York. Do you have any information about this item?

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Answer It's a souvenir elongated cent, or EC. For a small fee, fairgoers could hand over an ordinary cent and watch as a mechanical "penny stretcher" transformed it into an elongated souvenir pocket piece embossed with a new design. First seen at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, elongated coins were a huge hit at expos, amusement parks, and tourist traps, and they're still around today. Martin   Dow's Yesterday's Elongateds lists this one (#N.Y-PAE-18) but provides no details about the die designer, number rolled, cost at expo, etc. Not long ago an identical EC sold for $6 on eBay.


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