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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (10/2009) AMP (08/2009) AMP (12/2009)   Vol. 43 October 2009 
Ask Mark Parker!
As seen in the October 2009 edition of W&ET Magazine


Question Mark, I've had no luck researching this 1684 silver coin. Can you identify it? Also, any idea as to its value?

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Answer This one led me a merry chase, but I finally managed to locate a couple of examples on European numismatic websites, where it's attributed as a half ducato of the Kingdom of Naples & Sicily. The obverse bears the portrait of Charles II, last of the Spanish Hapsburg kings, who also ruled much of Italy in the late 17th century. The legend •CAROLVS•II•D•G•HISP•ET•VTR•SICIL•REX• is abbreviated Latin for, "Charles II, by the grace of God king of Spain and the Sicilies." On the reverse Victory is shown seated and holding a shield, with the Mediterranean region beneath his feet. •RELIGIONE•ET•GLADIO• means, "Fear of God and sword." At left, the letters AG and A are the initials of Naples mintmaster Andrea Giovane and mint assayer Antonio Ariana, respectively. A few years ago a similar coin, with perhaps a touch less wear on the high points, was valued at €800- or about $1,000 U.S. at that time. I suspect that today yours might fetch just as much.


Question We found this coin hidden in an old house. We have been told that it is gold and is worth $1,400. It weighs 2.74 oz. The front reads, "Internationale Wedstrijd van Sommige Fabrikanten en Werktuigen" and "Arnhem 1879." There is only a wreath on the back. We would like to know what it was for, and how much it is worth.

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Answer It appears to be a medal struck for some sort of international tool manufacturers' exhibition held in Arnhem, The Netherlands, in 1879. This would explain the beehive, symbolic of industry, and various mechanical devices depicted on the obverse. Tiny lettering just above and right of the date identifies the designer, J. Elion of Amsterdam, a well-known 19th century Dutch diesinker and engraver. The blank rectangular space on the reverse indicates that the medal was not awarded. Without knowing the fineness, or karat, of the gold, it's impossible to estimate its bullion value. The amount quoted to you-$1,400 for 2.74 oz.- might be about right for 14K, or 58.3% pure gold; however, European gold medals of that period typically had a higher gold content, often 90%, which would give a medal of the same weight a bullion value closer to $2,300. (Bear in mind that gold prices will probably have changed by the time this reaches print.) Assuming that the medal is genuine, it should command at least a small premium over its spot-price value.


Question I dug this eagle's head ornament on Long Island, New York. It's 3" long, seems to be made of lead, and still has some of the original red paint on it. The back end is hollow, with the remains of a wooden shaft or pole inside. What is it, or what was it used for, and is it worth anything?

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Answer If you could travel back to the days when folks gleefully defied frostbite to go "...dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open sleigh," there's a fair chance you'd see proudly projecting from that sleigh's "dash" a pair of eagle's heads like the one you found. The dash, or dashboard (whence the name for today's auto instrument panel), served as a shield against slush, mud, and such kicked up by the horse. Sleigh eagles were commonly made of brass, but they turn up in other metals, too. You can still buy them, in fact, and a brand-new pair will set you back about $25-30. Antique examples don't seem to bring a great deal more, and sometimes even less: not long ago an iron pair was auctioned for $15.


Question While detecting at an early 1900s house, I found what at first appeared to be a child's toy badge, but turned out to be something quite different. On the obverse is written "OLD KIRK WHISKY" and on the reverse, "A. P. HOTALING & CO. 429-457 JACKSON ST., S. F. CAL." An internet search turned up some fascinating history about the company in the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake & fire, but nothing on this item. Is it a watch fob, key chain medallion, or something else... and does it have any value?

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Answer Our thanks to leading Western memorabilia specialist Fred Holabird- - who has the answer you're after: "This Hotaling piece hung on a ribbon around the neck of their whiskey bottles. We know that they used both embossed and paper-labeled bottles. It dates from about 1900. Only a few non-dug ones are known. Token hunters seem to find most of them, but even those are rare. We have had perhaps five of them over the years, and here at Holabird-Kagin Americana they sell for about $100. The Hotaling whiskey bottles are also very popular, and there are many varieties, some dating back to the 1870s or so. They were a popular whiskey, distributed all over the West to cities and mining camps."


Question The lettering on this railroad baggage tag is a bit difficult to see, due to discoloration and corrosion, but reads as follows: WABASH / ST. LOUIS & PAC. RY. / 21406 / LOCAL." There is a maker's mark at the top, which I believe to be HODGE MFG. CO. The tag was dug at an 1800s home site. Do you know its history and value?

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Answer The Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railway came into existence in November 1879, as a surviving entity of its defunct predecessor. A little less than a decade later, in July 1889, it merged with another line to create the Wabash Railroad. During that time perhaps its greatest claim to fame came in 1886, in the U.S. Supreme Court case "Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railroad Company v. Illinois" (a.k.a. The Wabash Case), which found that states do not have the authority to regulate or dictate interstate rates for railroads. This same case contributed to the creation of the Interstate Commerce Commission the following year. Your 1880s tag was made the Hoole Mfg. Co of New York. Edmund Hoole was manufacturing baggage checks by the 1860s, but seems to have begun using the "Hoole Mfg. Co." mark around 1885. The firm remained active until 1893, when it was acquired by the American Railway Supply Co. A similar tag, clean and in fine or better condition, was listed on eBay earlier this year at $200, but evidently did not sell; lower offers were declined.


Question I would appreciate anything that you can tell me about this "H. J. BANG / RESTAURANT / 231 / BROADWAY" token. The reverse has "* IMPORTER OF * / RHINE WINES" surrounding a cluster of grapes. Beneath the grapes, in smaller lettering, is "GLAUBRECHT."

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Answer Issued in the early 1860s by New York City restaurant owner H. J. Bang, it's what collectors call a Civil War "store card." Rampant hoarding during the war often led to a shortage of coins. As a result, many merchants began issuing tokens, which served both as advertising and a medium of exchange, usually trading at a value of 1¢. Although purists point out that this piece is technically a maverick since the city is not named, there's not much doubt about Bang's location: a few years later, in 1866, the New York Times reported that his restaurant at 231 Broadway had been heavily damaged by fire. There's also a certain amount of quibbling about the name Glaubrecht. Some listings even refer to "Glaubrecht Rhine Wines." However, I think it's far more likely that this is the mark of George J. Glaubrecht, a NYC diesinker who struck other Civil War store cards and patriotic tokens. Cataloged by Fuld as #NY630D-1a and rated R2 (common), the Bang store card has recently retailed for $15-25 in Very Fine condition.


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