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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (05/2004) AMP (04/2004) AMP (06/2004)   Vol. 38 May 2004 
Ask Mark Parker!
As seen in the May 2004 edition of W&ET Magazine


Question My wife and I found this Fort Keogh token on a homestead about 80 miles from Miles City, Montana. It is 1-1/2" in diameter, reading "FORT KEOGH 25¢ POST EXCHANGE" on the front, and "GOOD FOR 25¢ IN TRADE" on the back. Can you give us any information about it?

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Answer Established during the Indian Wars period, and shortly after the Custer Massacre, Fort Keogh was authorized by Congress as a U.S. Cavalry post on July 22, 1876. It was named for Capt. Myles Keogh, who was killed in the Battle of Little Big Horn. Located two miles south of Miles City, and at one time the largest military post in Montana, it remained active until 1907. Two years later, it became a remount station and was the leading source of horses for the Army in WWI. In the early 1920s the fort was phased out, and the site became the property of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. Today it is home to the Fort Keogh Livestock & Range Research Laboratory. There were a number of Fort Keogh post exchange tokens, and yours is among the most desirable. Several years ago it listed for $400, and today a nice one might fetch as much as $600. There are 5¢ and 10¢ denominations of similar design, also highly collectable.


Question I recovered this buckle while relic hunting in the old Fort Brooks area in Tampa, Florida. It's 1-3/4" long and 1" wide, made of brass with gold gilt, and has an eagle's head on it. I would like to know the significance of it, as well as its value, if any.

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Answer What you've got is one half of an early 19th century militia/naval officer's dirk belt buckle which reportedly had two eagle's heads facing inward, connected by an S-link. Introduced around 1810 and usually attributed to the War of 1812, in fact this design saw continued service as late as the Mexican War, and would therefore certainly be contemporary with Fort Brooks, c. 1830s. What's it worth? Maybe $300-350 as is; if complete, $1,000+.


Question It's been quite a while since I dug this button at a lake near Minneapolis, Minnesota. It's solid brass (one-piece) and has 13 stars and a bugle, with a number "4" in the center. There are no backmarks, and the shank is intact. What is it, exactly?

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Answer It's a 4th Regiment of Riflemen button from the early 1800s. The original Regiment of Riflemen was created in 1808, and three more regiments were raised in 1814. In some ways a forerunner of today's "special operations" units, the Riflemen recruits were often rugged frontiersmen in civilian life. Their elite status was accentuated by distinctive green coats with yellow trim, and they were armed with Model 1803 Harper's Ferry rifles (no bayonets). While sometimes cited for their slower, more methodical rate of fire, they were also renowned for their deadly accuracy. Riflemen buttons like yours were specified in a letter to the Secretary of War in 1814: "...flat yellow buttons which shall exhibit a bugle surrounded by stars, with the number of the regiment within the curve of the bugle." Cataloged in Albert's button book as #RF 9B, this 4th Regiment variety would retail for $300-350.


Question Mark, I was wondering if you could tell me the age and value of this Coca-Cola watch fob that was found in a small town in Georgia. It's made of brass, and the back reads, "Ask for a bottle of Coca-Cola, for sale everywhere."

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Answer These ornate, sort of Art Nouveau, Coca-Cola advertising watch fobs first appeared around 1910, some with differently worded reverses. More recently, a lot of copies have popped up- yeah, I know... it's "soda-pressing"- many of them crudely cast in a pewter-like,"white metal" alloy. Obviously, it's impossible to know from a photo, but yours seems to have good, crisp detail and an honest patina. Anyway, if it's "The Real Thing," it could bring $200+. And if it's only a repro? Roughly $200 less!


Question For months now, I've been stumped by this silver pin or badge. Just under an inch in diameter, it's made in the shape of a spoked wheel with three wings and, in Old English lettering, the initials C. T. C. The back is marked "V & S" and has three hallmarks: an anchor (Birmingham, England), a lion passant (sterling silver), and a date letter "Y" (1923). Any help in solving the mystery would be appreciated.

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Answer Your find is a membership lapel pin of the Cyclist's Touring Club. An organization for British bicycling enthusiasts, the C. T. C. was founded in 1878 and remains active today. Its winged-wheel emblem has been around almost as long, debuting in 1888. The "V & S" mark is that of Vaughton & Sons (sometimes listed as P. Vaughton & Sons or Vaughton Gothic Works), a Birmingham firm well known for its high-quality badges and medals in the 19th and 20th centuries. There are also cap badges of the same style, 1-1/4" and hinged like a locket to hold a small disc or "plaque" with the year and member's name and number. A fair retail price for the pin would be $25-35; the cap badge, $60-75, and more with the disc(s).

Special thanks to cycling memorabilia specialist Lorne Shields, P.O. Box 87588, 300 John St. Post Office, Thornhill, ON L3T 7R3, Canada.


Question This strange ring came out of an old campsite. I think it may be some sort of sundial or calendar, but I'm not sure. It seems to be made of pewter and brass. On the outside, on either side of a hole that goes all the way through the band, are the letters "J F M A M J" and "J A S O N D,"which would correspond to the names of the months of the year. Inside the band is a kind of chart with two rows of numbers: "1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8" and "12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4." Also inside are the words "Carpe Diem." What is it, how old is it, and how much is it worth?

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Answer It's a sundial ring/pendant commonly referred to as a "shepherd's watch" or "Aquitaine." The latter name comes from a legend that Eleanor of Aquitaine gave one to King Henry II of England, who in turn had one made for her, set with diamonds and engraved with the Latin motto Carpe Diem ("Seize the Day"). Although in one sense a jewelry novelty, it is indeed functional. The center ring is rotated until the small hole aligns with initial of the month. The dial is then suspended from the chain or cord on which it is worn, and is positioned so that the hole faces the sun. Sunlight passing through the hole causes a point of light to display the time on the grid or lines within the ring. Typically, there is a short line for winter, a long one for summer, and a median one for spring and fall. Morning hours (4-12) are indicated on one side, and afternoon hours (1-8) on the other. These "watches" are still being produced, and my guess is that yours is also of modern manufacture (1970s or later). Those made of pewter and brass sell for $20-35; silver, up to $100+; and of course gold ones are even more expensive.


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