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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (10/2012) AMP (08/2012) AMP (10/2012)   Vol. 46 October 2012 
Ask Mark Parker!
As seen in the October 2012 edition of W&ET Magazine


Question Mark, can you identify this coin that I found on Cape Cod? It's a little larger than a quarter and has a partially legible date ending in “...56.”

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Answer Whether or not lightning strikes twice, the Spanish definitely did... and here's the proof! What you've got is a counterstamped 8&12 maravedis from the 1600s. Then, as now, Spain suffered from a wobbly economy, and efforts to shore it up began with small change. The lowly 4 maravedis— 34 maravedis = 1 real— were restruck “VIII,” doubling their denomination. Later, amid lingering monetary woes, another hearty whack revalued them to “XII.” This time, however, the people struck back, and the coins met with firm resistance in trade. So, the men at the mints got out their hammers again and marked the coins back down to “VIII”! Given its considerable age and colorful history, you might expect this to be a pricey piece, but in fact it would likely retail around $10-20. Not long ago, a very similar example sold for €8,99, or a little over $11.


Question Recently, I dug this large coin or token at a local park here in Missouri. It's about the size of silver dollar, weighs 22 grams, and came out of the ground just as you see it. My question is twofold: what is it, and if it is indeed silver, what is the percentage or purity?

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Answer Although your find is certainly an unusual one, we are fortunate to rely upon the expertise of Mr. Praful Thakkar of the Classic Gallery of Indian Numismatics— Here's what he had to say:

“This is a commemorative token issued by the State Bank of Hyderabad to mark the bank's 50th anniversary. The bank originated as the central bank of the erstwhile Nizam state under the name Hyderabad State Bank. It was established on 8 August, 1941, under the Hyderabad State Bank Act, 1941, during the reign of the last Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Usman Ali Khan. The bank opened its first branch at Gunfoundry, Hyderabad on 5 April 6, 1942. Such commemorative tokens are issued by banks in India to celebrate the events of their Silver Jubilee (25 years) or Golden Jubilee (50 years), and are distributed to shareholders or certain select clients. Mostly they are made of silver with 90+ fineness. This token has an image of the bank building on its obverse, while on the reverse is depicted Laxmi, the goddess of wealth&prosperity, seated on a lotus flower with two elephants on either side. Most of the banks issue commemorative tokens with this goddess of wealth. As there are not many collectors of this type of tokens, and most of the banks do issue such silver tokens periodically to celebrate their jubilees, in my opinion the token may not carry any higher value than its metal worth.”

At a current silver spot price of $27.30/oz., a .900 fine piece of 22 grams would be worth $17.38.


Question This suspender clip was found at an old house site in Pennsylvania. It says, “To Identify Me, Telegraph This Number - 45980 - Brotherhood Accident Co., Boston, Mass.” There is a maker's mark on the back, but “Sch...” is all I can read. What can you tell me about the company, and how much is this item worth?

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Answer The Brotherhood Accident Co. was incorporated August 17, 1892, for the purpose of offering insurance to members, age 55 and under, of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows fraternal society. Originally known as the Odd Fellows Accident Co., it was renamed on September 16, 1897. According to a brochure issued by the company, “An identification badge, to be worn on the suspender, is furnished to our policy holders free with each policy. This badge is made of metal, highly polished, and practically indestructible. It gives the number of the policy holder's policy, and should he be found helpless through injury or sickness, or become unconscious from any cause whatever, the badge will be noticed and the number telegraphed to this company. We will then notify his friends and relatives without expense. In case of death, it might be the only means of identification, and should be worn at all times.” Exactly how many were issued over the years is unclear, but records from 1908 indicate that at one point in that year alone there were 17,607 such policies. The partial mark Sch... on the badge's reverse is probably that of the Schwaab Stamp&Seal Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a major manufacturer of badges, buttons, pins, fobs, etc. in that era. Value? $10-15+.


Question Here's a little six-sided brass top that I recovered at a park in Rhode Island. Actual size is 1-1/4" x 1/2", and the sides are marked ALL PUT, PUT ONE, PUT TWO, TAKE ONE, TAKE TWO, and TAKE ALL. My guess is that it's from some type of board game. The usual questions... What is it? How old is it? What's it worth? Thanks!

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Answer It's a “put&take,” also known as a teetotum or sanfarian— a gambling top which was wildly popular in the 1920s and '30s. There was even a song titled “Put&Take,” and a silent movie of the same name. Metal tops like yours were among the most common, but many others were made of ivory, bone, celluloid, Bakelite, or some other plastic. Basically, here's how the game worked. After placing an agreed number of coins (or chips, matches, $1 bills, etc.) into the “pot,” players took turns spinning the top. Once it came to rest, the player put in or took out coins as dictated by the top's uppermost side. The markings are self-explanatory, except for “All Put,” which usually meant to put all one's winnings into the pot, or to match the amount in it, but in some versions of the game meant that all players must put in another coin. Not always an innocent pastime, put&take often involved very serious gambling. Inevitably, there were “gaffed” tops— loaded or adjustable tops, and tops with more winning than losing marks. Because of its small size, a dodgy top could easily be palmed and switched for the “honest” one, allowing a crooked player to rake in winnings at will. As a result, distrust topped greed, and the put&take craze spun out. As a result, distrust topped greed, and the put&take craze spun out. Value of your find? $25-35+.


Question I would appreciate your assistance in pricing this 1916 Florida Good Road Booster tag that I found at a vacant lot. Made to resemble an orange, it is copper or brass with green and white porcelain leaves and lettering, and about 3" in diameter.

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Answer Since it was found in Orlando and also bears the words “Automobile Ass'n, Inc.,” I'm not sure whether it's from the Florida Good Roads Association, the Florida Automobile Association, or the Orlando Good Road Boosters, all reportedly active at that time. Note, too, that 1916 is the stated year of organization but not necessarily when the badge was issued. It could date a few years later, but probably not past the 1920s, by which time a lot of the local and state good roads groups had begun to fade as highway development increased and organizations such as the AAA offered stronger advocacy at the national level. Anyway, setting aside all that iffy stuff, an early 1900s bumper badge from Florida, and a figural one at that, is bound to be collectable. My sources suggest that yours could command anywhere from $50 on up to $100 or more, depending mostly on condition of the enamel. Orange you glad you asked?


Question I'm researching this Indian chief watch fob advertising “The Kraemer Pathfinder Compass Mnf'd by U.S. Compass Co., Cedarburg, Wis.” Know anything about it?

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Answer Lose not only your way but your compass as well, and you're really lost. To make sure that didn't happen, the good folks of the U.S. Compass Co. included a complimentary fob&leather strap with each of their Kraemer Pathfinder models. Ads from 1910-20 offer four Pathfinder models, some 1-3/4" and others 2", usually priced between $2 and $2.50. Featuring solid brass cases, black aluminum dials with luminous lettering, jeweled bearings, and no paper or film components, they were boasted to be moisture- and dust-proof... “Reliable, strong, efficient, durable, and simple.” A Kraemer Pathfinder, complete with original strap&fob, in fine or better condition can fetch $150-200+. The fob alone usually goes for $35-50, although I've seen it go as high as $75.


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