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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (08/2004) AMP (07/2004) AMP (09/2004)   Vol. 38 August 2004 
Ask Mark Parker!
As seen in the August 2004 edition of W&ET Magazine


Question I uncovered this silver-dollar sized pewter button near an old trading post in Ontario. It bears the words "HUDSONS BAY" and shows an Indian with a musket, shooting at a fox. Apart from finding an illustration of an identical item in an old magazine article, I've had little success in researching it. I was wondering if you could offer any information and suggest a possible value.

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Answer The article to which you refer- Arthur Woodward's "Trade Goods of 1748," which appeared in the December 1948 issue of The Beaver, the official Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) publication- seems to be the only readily available record of it. As you know, the HBC has been in existence since 1670, when it was granted a royal charter by King Charles II for "sole trade and commerce" control over 1.5 million square miles of Canadian territory. During the 18th and early 19th century, it systematically explored and exploited those vast regions, and its fur trade empire made the "beaver" (one large pelt of good quality) a standard unit of commerce. In 1821 its power grew even greater when it merged with the rival North West Company and continued to operate under the HBC name. Canada's oldest corporation, it has evolved into that nation's largest department store chain, with over 500 locations at last count. As for the button, your two best bets for finding out more about it would be the Hudson's Bay Company Archives and the Hudson's Bay Company Museum Collection, both in Winnipeg, Manitoba. And the value? I've discussed it with specialists in several fields (buttons, fur trade artifacts, 18th & 19th century antiques), and the consensus seems to be that, if genuine, it's probably in the low four-figure range, i.e., $1,000+.


Question I found this watch fob in Tonopah, Nevada and would like to more about its background and collectability. It's brass, with a blue enamel border reading,"The Western Federation of Miners * Victor, Colo. *" In the center is a picture of the Victor Miners Union Hall. The back is marked "Colo. Badge & Nov. Co. Denver."

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Answer The Western Federation of Miners was founded in 1893 and remained in existence until 1916, when it became the International Union of Mine, Mill & Smelter Workers. The earliest date I can find for the maker of the fob, the Colorado Badge & Novelty Company, is 1906. Notorious for its militant strikes, the Western Federation of Miners became the target of armed troops in 1904, when the governor of Colorado ordered National Guard units to quell union violence. At one point the miners' hall in Victor, shown on the fob, came under fire; so, your find has plenty of history behind it. Price tag? $250.


Question Can you tell me anything about this big, octagonal brass token that I dug in an abandoned coal mining town? "Good for $1.00 in Merchandise," it was issued by Talle & Andrews in Seven Lakes, New Mexico.

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Answer Talle & Andrews had an Indian trading post in Seven Lakes, a small town near Gallup in McKinley County. (Exact dates of operation unknown.) The token is from a series, probably a "full run" (5¢, 10¢, 25¢, 50¢, $1) although no 10¢ and 50¢ varieties have yet been confirmed. The $1 token lists for $300, and one brought $308.33 at auction in 2002. Additional specimens have turned up since then, which usually tends to drive down the price; but according to Gary Henderson, an advanced collector of New Mexico exonumia, you shouldn't have much trouble finding a buyer at $300-325.


Question Please identify this old metal bank. It has the name Copeland on the base. I'm not sure, but I think Copeland may have been a brand of tobacco.

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Answer Nope, this one's definitely from a "No Smoking" zone. It's the Copeland Snowman bank, issued around 1930-40 to advertise Copeland refrigerators. Made in the U.S., it's sand-cast aluminum and, in the condition shown, is worth $250, cold cash. Special thanks to banks expert Charlie Reynolds of


Question Mark, thanks for taking a look at this old WVRU medal dated 1887. Any info would be appreciated.

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Answer The initials are those of the Woman's Veteran Relief Union, founded in 1887 as the ladies' auxiliary of the Union Veterans Union, established a year earlier as an organization for Union servicemen who had seen at least six months' active duty, including time at the front. Those without combat experience were excluded. The WVRU, like other auxiliaries supporting Civil War soldiers' groups, was active in relief projects for veterans and war widows and orphans, and in various patriotic and memorial programs and observances. Your find, a WVRU membership medal, would retail around $35-50.


Question Detecting in a wooded area "miles from nowhere" in Maine, I came up with this ornate, 2-1/2" "Great Seal" badge. I keep thinking it might be military auxiliary related, but I really don't have a clue. Can you help?

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Answer Actually, you're on the right track. Although it's not an official item, it's a fine example of a "sweetheart jewelry" brooch or pin, designed to be worn by a female relative or friend of a U.S. serviceman during WWI or, more likely, WWII. Listing for $40-50, fine or better, it's worth a little less than half that as is... but still a sweet find.


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