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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (04/2011) AMP (02/2011) AMP (06/2011)   Vol. 45 April 2011 
Ask Mark Parker!
As seen in the April 2011 edition of W&ET Magazine


Question Mark, I found this button on a hunt with a fellow club member in northern New Jersey. It's about the size of a quarter and has an eagle with "U. S. INFANT" above and "REGT" below. The front is silver, but the back has a green patina, and the "eye" is broken off. Can you tell me more about it, including its value?

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Answer He must have been a redoubtable and self-possessed individual indeed who daily, shamelessly donned a uniform on which gleamed a row of silver plated buttons boldly lettered U.S. INFANT. This early 19th century infantry officer's button is listed in Albert's book as #GI 49. Its exact age is uncertain, but it's generally attributed as a War of 1812 period (c. 1812-15) variety. While some sources have suggested that it's slightly postwar- say, 1820- examples have reportedly been recovered at Fort George, Ontario, a site held by U.S. troops for a time in 1813. On the other hand, at least one authority has given it an even earlier attribution of c. 1792-1810. At any rate, it's relatively scarce, and despite the missing shank, its crisp details and nearly full plating make it highly desirable. The slightly off-center strike isn't a problem either. Value? $300-350.


Question I dug this copper coin some time ago but am having trouble making out just what it is. It's approximately 1" wide and very thin, and on one side there is what looks like a figure with an arm extended. On the other side is a mostly illegible inscription which includes the word "NOVA." Could it be one of the c. 1785 "IMMUNE COLUMBIA" / "NOVA CONSTELLATIO" coppers?

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Answer It's older than that... much older. Your find is an early to mid 1600s 2 duit copper from Friesland, a province in the northern Netherlands. A duit- in Dutch, actually pronounced more like "doyt" than "do it," I'm told- was 1/160 of a gulden or guilder. Although much of the design has been lost to time and the elements, the obverse depicts a bearded peasant farmer wearing a cap and holding a sword over his shoulder. (The sword is the "arm" you described. I've adjusted the rotation of the photos.) On either side are the letters F O (Frisiae Ordines - "The States of Frisia [or Friesland]"), and the encircling words are NISI • DOMINVS • NOBISCVM- Latin for "Unless the Lord be with us." The reverse bore the arms of Friesland, a shield with two lions passant (walking) surrounded by seven small rectangles representing the seven historic districts of Friesland. The word NOVA is part of the abbreviated Latin legend MO • NOVA • ARG • ORDIN • FRI- "Regular new silv


Question This medal reads, "75TH ANNIVERSARY BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG - 1863-1938 - BLUE AND GRAY REUNION." Other than what it says, I have no clue as to its history or value. Do you?

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Answer Relatively little is known about it, although I can tell you that it originally had a loop at the top and was suspended from a blue & gray ribbon. A complete example can be viewed at (search "1938"), the website of veterans memorabilia specialist Everitt Bowles, who lists it as a badge presented to active-duty soldiers for their services during the reunion, adding, "This is the first of these badges I have ever encountered." Nondug and in choice condition, his badge is offered at $2,250. Contacted about the value of yours, he told W&ET, "Being dug and missing the suspension loop, it's probably in the $100 range. Unfortunately, as found, it couldn't be used even if you had the top portion." Blue & Gray reunions were held every 25 years, and on July 3, 1938 an estimated 250,000 people were on hand for ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. Of the 8,000 Civil War veterans then surviving, 1,845 were able to attend- 486 Confederate and 1,359 Union. Their average age was 94, and this event was, of course, the last of its kind.


Question Rechecking recoveries from a detecting trip to New York, I found that I'd overlooked this half dollar-sized brass token. The obverse reads, "GOOD FOR / $2.00 IN GOLD ON A MOTOR PURCHASE / DURING 1910 / LACKAWANNA MFG. CO. / NEWBURGH, N. Y."; the reverse, "LACKAWANNA VALVELESS / [image of a motor] / IT REVERSES." Any further information about the token or company would be appreciated.

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Answer The Lackawanna Mfg. Co. specialized in marine engines, and they were highly regarded in their heyday. Exactly when the company first came on the scene, I can't say; but by 1904, when they became a division of the Coldwell Lawn Mower Company of Newburgh, New York, they had been supplying engines to Coldwell for at least six years. Prior to 1904, they were based in Buffalo, New York. In 1911, Gardner D. Hiscox wrote in Gas, Gasoline, and Oil-Engines, "The Lackawanna was one of the first two-cycle, three-port engines made, and is a valveless, reversing engine. It has always been considered a high-grade, reliable engine." These big brass sales promotion tokens must have served them well, as a similar "Good for Gold" token had been issued in 1909. In 1910, $2 was no trifling sum, either, having nearly as much purchasing power as $50 does today. Your token probably can't command quite that much collector cash, but might well fetch $20-25 in Very Fine or better condition.


Question While scanning the walls of an old barn with my metal detector, I found this aluminum disk reading, "REGISTERED ILLINOIS MOTOR BICYCLE - 9378 - MOTOR VEHICLE BICYCLE LAW - 1913." How was this used, and what's it worth?

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Answer The Illinois Motor Vehicle Act, which included what were then called motor bicycles, became law in 1907. In 1911 the state legislature enacted a new Motor Vehicle Law, which was further amended in 1915, stating in part that, "Every owner of a motor bicycle which shall be driven in this State, shall within ten days after he becomes the owner of such motor bicycle, file in the office of the Secretary of State an application for a certificate of registration, and shall pay to said Secretary of State a registration fee for each calendar year for each motor bicycle so registered, the sum of $2. The Secretary of State shall also issue and deliver to the owner of such motor bicycle a seal of aluminum having stamped thereon the words, ‘Registered motor bicycle, No., Illinois Motor Vehicle and Bicycle Law,' with the registration number and the years of issue inserted therein, which seal shall be affixed to the motor bicycle to which such number has been assigned." Got it? The seals remained much the same from year to year, and most now bring $10-20+. The highest price I've seen is an inexplicable $71 paid for one from 1915.


Question Recently, you solved a mystery for a friend of mine, and I'm hoping you can do the same for me. This ornate object came out of a Texas dump dating back to the 1950s. It's made of brass, measures about 4-1/2" x 5-1/2", and has a couple of small rearward projections and screws where a rod or hinge was attached at the bottom of the back. The scene in the center seems to be a turbaned man seated in a chair, and a bird perched atop a pole. What is it?

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Answer For a while there I was worried that I'd only be able to tell you what it isn't. Enlisting the assistance of several expert researchers, I received some intriguing guesses, ranging all the way from "clock case" to "Hanukkah lamp." None, however, held up under scrutiny. Finally, thanks to your careful description and photos of the back (omitted here), I stumbled onto the clues I needed. What you've got is the end plate from a late 1800s - early 1900s bookrack. Matching end plates were connected by two, or sometimes three, telescoping rods which permitted adjustment for the number of books held. I'm tempted to say that it was made by the Judd Mfg. Co. of Wallingford, Connecticut, a major manufacturer of such classy racks; and in fact it strongly resembles a couple of their products. The only hitch is that Judd generally marked their racks and bookends with a 9000-series number, which seems to be lacking on your find. Intact, attractive, and functional racks of this type are often tagged at $100-150+. The end plate alone has little monetary value except as a completing piece for restoration, but might make a dandy "wall hanger.


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