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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (08/2014) AMP (06/2014) AMP (10/2014)   Vol. 48 August 2014 
Ask Mark Parker!
As seen in the August 2014 edition of W&ET Magazine


Question I found this E. T. U Cadet button while metal detecting under my house. Can you give me some information about it, including its value?

Danny Limbaugh
Fayetteville, TN

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Answer Et, tu? No, wait... E.T.U. stands for East Tennessee University, the venerable institution now known as the University of Tennessee. One of the nation’s oldest public universities, it began as Blount College way back in 1794. After closing in 1809, it reopened in 1820 as East Tennessee College, in a cooperative venture with the Hampden-Sydney Academy, a boys’ school. Six years later, the two separated, and in 1840 the college became East Tennessee University, the name it retained until 1879, when the state legislature officially changed it to the University of Tennessee. E.T.U. instituted mandatory military training in 1844, and all students were cadets, a policy that remained in force until 1890. So, now the intriguing question is, could this be a Civil War button? E.T.U. cadets went to war, all right... in fact, it came to them. Closed in 1862 due to the conflict, for a time the university served as a Confederate hospital. Its campus also suffered heavy damage from Union attacks and occupation. That history is not in dispute, but collectors are divided about the button. Among those confident that it does indeed date from the war period is leading specialist Bob Edmondson, who points out that certain c. 1860-70 Scovill backmarks are associated with it; and since E.T.U. closed in 1862 and did not reopen until 1869, it seems probable that these buttons were ordered and issued sometime between 1860 and 1862. It should also be noted that there are reportedly no photos showing them in use in the late 1860s or 70s. Based on that attribution, and taking into account your find’s condition issues— an apparent light, flat push on the front and moderate encrustation on the back— its retail value is likely around $250-275.


Question This brass item displaying an eagle above “D & M” looks almost like a zipper pull but is abviously much older. What is it?

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Answer It’s the “drop,” or keyhole cover, from a lock made by the Davenport & Mallory Co. of New Haven, Connecticut in the 1850s. No, I know that the example below isn’t identical, but I think you’ll get the picture:

key drop
Image courtesy

The lock & key shown above sold for $86.53. The drop alone has little monetary value, of course, but it’s still a neat find and would display well with other relics of that era.


Question Mark, can you identify this metal detecting find for me? If possible, I would also like to know how much it’s worth.

Joe Guerre
Cheswick, PA

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Answer It’s a badge issued for a national encampment (convention) of the Union Veteran Legion, held in New Castle, Pennsylvania, August 19–22, 1919. Founded in 1884, the UVL was noted for its stringent membership requirements, admitting only those men who had voluntarily enlisted in the Union Army, Navy, or Marine Corps before July 1, 1863— prior to the draft or any offers of service bonuses— for a term of three years, and who had been honorably discharged. This was later modified to accept those who had volunteered prior to that time for a two-year term. No one who had been drafted, served as a substitute for someone else, borne arms against the U.S., deserted, or been dishonorably discharged was eligible. Because of these restrictions, the UVL remained far smaller than other Union veterans groups such as the Grand Army of the Republic. The largest membership I could find for them was 9,256, compared to nearly 500,000 for the GAR. The letters FGP on your badge are a bit puzzling, as other UVL badges are lettered FCP, for “Fraternity, Charity, Patriotism.” Perhaps it was a deliberate change, with G replacing C and standing for something like “Goodwill” or “Godliness,” words appearing in mottoes or stated principles of other military and fraternal orders. Then again, it may simply have been an error made by the badge manufacturer. Values for UVL badges can be tricky. Certainly they’re far scarcer than, say, GAR badges; but there are more GAR collectors, too. An average price for a nice non-dug one from the 1919 encampment is $75. Naturally, being found in the ground, yours would fetch somewhat less.


Question I dug this quarter-size bronze medallion at an old homesite near Nowata, Oklahoma. One side says, “Apollo Commandery No. 1,” and the other has the initials “B T A S I D N.” So far, all I’ve been able to find out about it is that it’s evidently related to some Masons in Chicago. Can you solve this mystery?

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Answer Well, part of it. It’s from Apollo Commandery No. 1 of the Knights Templar, organized in Chicago in 1845. The Grand Commandery of the order for Illinois, in 1895 it boasted 65 subordinate commanderies with a total membership of 9,355. This piece apparently dates from that year, when the 26th Triennial Conclave of the Knights Templar was held in Boston. Reporting on the event, the August 27, 1895 Tuesday morning edition of The Daily Inter Ocean of Chicago stated, “The souvenir badge of the Apollo is a copper token bearing the name of the commandery on one side, and on the reverse the letters B. T. A. S. I. D. N. No outsider knows what these signify, but the knights say they are going to divulge the secret Wednesday.” Unfortunately, a search of subsequent editions turned up no such revelation, but maybe someone else can supply the answer. Value? At least $20-25, and in a collector bidding war, easily $50.


Question I found this watch fob in an old schoolyard. The front has a wreath surrounding a fancy monogram comprising the letters C W M A. The back reads, “15TH ANNUAL / MILWAUKEE / JAN. 9–11. / 1907.” I hope you can shed some light on it, and a price.

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Answer Although their size and arrangement might suggest otherwise, the correct order of the initials is WCMA, standing for the Wisconsin Cheese Makers’ Association, who held their 15th annual meeting in the Convention Rooms of the Republican House, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Wednesday–Friday, January 9–11, 1907. The fob may originally have been part of a ribbon badge issued to attendees, but minutes from the event hint at something more. An officer of the WCMA announced, “There are four gold, four silver, and four bronze medals given by the Association for first, second, and third premium, in each of the four different cheese classes. We formerly had these medals made up in the form of a badge, but these are made up in a design so they can be worn as a watch chain fob instead of the old-style medal.” Since your find doesn’t bear any inscription indicating that it is an award— for example, “3rd Place, Cheddar” or something of that sort— it may or may not be one of the medals described. The specific award information might have accompanied it on a ribbon, presentation case, or separate certificate; or, as previously noted, the general membership’s meeting badges might have been fob-style, too. Either way, it’s probably a $50 item at best, unless you can locate someone who’s convinced that it’s one of the four bronze medals and is keen on adding it to his collection... and cheese exonumia enthusiasts are something of a rarity themselves.


Question This “Royal Crown” money clip was in an old Hershey’s cocoa tin with a bunch of buttons, a few coins, and some keys. It has a horseshoe at the top, “GOOD LUCK” at the bottom, and in between, “DRINK ROYAL CROWN. H RC COLA. “BECAUSE IT’S GOOD.” (Also, in tiny letters just above the star it says, “Reg. U. S. Pat. Off.”) The front is the same as the back. “It’s made of brass and is 1-3/8" x 2". There is a spring inside at the top and it still works. One of the coins was a 1901 Indian Head cent. Could the clip be over 100 years old, too? How much is it worth?

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Answer Royal Crown Cola originated in Columbus, Georgia as one of the soft drinks developed around 1905 by a young pharmacist named Claud A. Hatcher. At first, the company was known as the Union Bottling Works, Royal Crown was a ginger ale, and Claud called his cola-flavored creation Chero-Cola. In 1912 it became the Chero-Cola Co.; and in 1928, as a result of the, er, pop-ularity of its Nehi line, it was rechristened the Nehi Corporation. In 1934, they tweaked the Chero-Cola formula and dubbed the refreshing result Royal Crown Cola. So, that would be the earliest date for the clip. Print ads from 1939 further narrow the timeline, using the same slogan, “Drink Royal Crown... Because It’s Good!” So, let’s call it late 1930s - early 1940s. After 1941, advertising novelties of this sort were discouraged during WWII, in order to conserve metal for the war effort. It’s actually more of a general purpose clip (papers, letters, receipts, etc.) than a money clip, but it’ll do that, too. While the brass finish is the most common, there are chrome ones as well, and they often retail for $15-25.


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