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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (06/2011) AMP (04/2011) AMP (08/2011)   Vol. 45 June 2011 
Ask Mark Parker!
As seen in the June 2011 edition of W&ET Magazine


Question My father found this large medal while exploring an old house that was being demolished when he was a teenager. It's about 3-1/2" wide and made of copper plated with gold, or so I've been told. The Liberty side is dated 1892; the other, 1492, with the inscriptions, "Dedicated to the American People in Honor of the 400th Anniversary of the Discovery of America" and "United We Stand. Divided We Fall." Can you tell me more about it?

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Answer History and legend are replete with the exploits of Christopher Columbus, but evidently as a lad your dad had his day of exploration and discovery, too! The commemorative medal that he found was designed by Adolph Weyl and engraved by Wilhelm Mayer of Stuttgart, Germany. Its issue coincided with the World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1892-93, in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America. The obverse is modeled on that of the U.S. silver dollar then in circulation, designed by George T. Morgan. The reverse depicts the landing of Columbus at San Salvador in 1492. The medal was struck in three sizes- 37mm, 51mm, and 90mm- and in a variety of metals, including aluminum, bronze, copper, gold-plated bronze, white metal, and silver. Your father's is the 90mm size in gold-plated bronze. The highest price I have found for this particular variety is $805, paid at auction for an example in choice Uncirculated condition. This one looks Extremely Fine to About Uncirculated, with a hint of wear on the highest points. So, a realistic retail value might be $200-250.


Question Mark, I've tried and tried to get some information about this boxing medal. Any chance that you might be able to help? It's about 1-1/4" in diameter and reads, "Eastern Department, U.S.A. Athletic Dist. No. 1 Championship." On the back is, "Presented by Wright & Ditson Victor Co. 1920. Middle Weight Boxing," the name of the recipient, and "Dieges & Clust. Gold Filled."

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Answer According to a January 25, 1920 New York Times article, the Eastern Department of the United States Army announced its intention to "teach boxing throughout the department for the purpose of making 'head up and eyes open' two-fisted fighting men...'" Your medal was awarded as a part of that program. The medals were provided to the Army by the Wright & Ditson-Victor Co., a national sporting goods company in that era, and were made by Dieges & Clust of Providence, Rhode Island, a major manufacturer of pins, medals, badges, and military insignia. Amateur boxing medals (high school, college, military, organizational, etc.) are generally not too valuable unless awarded to an individual who went on to have a successful professional career in the sport. Experts in both boxing memorabilia and militaria estimate the medal's value to be about $35-50.

FROM 10 TO 14

Question I found this "14" silver pin about 9" down in a New Jersey park. The back looks like it was made from a U.S. coin. It's the size of a Lincoln cent but much thinner. Could it be military related?

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Answer What you've got is a love token pin. Unfortunately, there's no way to be sure about the significance of the "14." While it might represent a military unit, as you've suggested, it could just as easily stand for something else, such as the year 1914. The reverse is that of a Capped Bust dime, and probably the larger 18.8mm size minted from 1809 until 1828. (A Lincoln cent is 19mm.) After 1828, the diameter was reduced to 18.5mm. Since Seated Liberty dimes replaced the Capped Bust design in 1837, the size has remained 17.9mm. The coin from which a love token is fashioned is called the "host coin," and Capped Busts were far less commonly used than Seated Liberty or Barber coins; so, that adds to the interest of your find. Even with the attachment pin missing and the "14" remaining a mystery, it could easily retail for $40+.


Question I dug this item, possibly a bicycle nameplate, from a c. 1880s lawn in eastern Washington. The front reads, "THE SHELBY CYCLE MFG. CO. / IDEAL NO. 36 / SHELBY, O. U.S.A." The back is blank. Actual size is 2-5/8" at the widest point, and the metal is nickel- or silver-plated. What is its history and value?

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Answer Vintage bicycle headbadges are a tad out of my territory, but luckily W&ET has a topnotch contact in that highly specialized field of collecting, Lorne Shields, and he's got the answers you're after:

"The Shelby Cycle Co. of Shelby, Ohio, a popular early maker of bicycles and tricycles, introduced the Ideal brand in 1895. This style of text on a headbadge is c. 1900. Although Shelby is a good, collectible brand, there are condition issues with the badge"- notably, an apparent crack between THE and SHELBY- "so, it would have a value in the $40-50 range."

Shelby ads of the period identify the Ideal No. 36 as a 24" wheels model for boys and girls, stressing that, "Ideal bicycles are not cheap, but really good wheels at low prices... Ideals rank second, a very little under the highest grade." The No. 36 sold for $22.50, and there was definitely nothing cheap about that in those days. In fact, it had as much purchasing power as $600 does today.


Question Could you give me some information about this Native American brass-bead necklace? It's 32" long, with two small bells and a large curved ornament.

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Answer I believe that it's African rather than Native American. Specifically, it looks like one of the so-called "elbow" bead/ornament necklaces often attributed to the Ashanti people of Ghana, West Africa. Created by lost-wax casting, these are still being made for the tourist and fashion trades today, and there are many varieties, some more "elbowed" than others. Necklaces featuring quite similar but smaller ribbed and spiraled elbow beads are currently offered online for $15-25. Whether yours might be of much greater value, I can't say.


Question This Dr. Pepper token was found at a late 1800s - early 1900s Kansas town site. I didn't think Dr. Pepper was that old. It says, "Drink Dr. Pepper. The Ideal Beverage. Healthful. Refreshing. All Fountains. ¢ 5 ¢" and "Good for a Drink of Dr. Pepper at Any Fountain Dispensing Same. The Dr. Pepper Co. Dallas, Texas." It's about the size of a silver dollar, made of aluminum, and in pretty fair shape, although it does have a small hole in it. Do you know anything about it?

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Answer Actually, Dr. Pepper is America's oldest major soft drink, dating all the way back to 1885, and its popularity really boomed after it was introduced to thirsty throngs at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (St. Louis world's fair) in 1904. I'm not sure just when this token was issued, but 100 years ago won't miss it by much. There's also one with Waco instead of Dallas. Dr. Pepper originated in Waco, and for many years the company headquarters remained there. Not long ago, a couple of these tokens in a bit better condition fetched over $50 apiece. As is, this one's probably still a $40 find.


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