Native American or Industrial tag?

Discussion in 'Tribal Art' started by Dawnno, Apr 19, 2019.

  1. Dawnno

    Dawnno Well-Known Member

    I need the best "devil's advocate" opinions that you have on this object.

    The picture allegedly features, as sold, an 'Apache dog tag' marked "D 35"; I've done quite a bit of research on the subject and can neither prove nor disprove that this is such a tag, because they are so rare. Archeologists and historians documented a handful at best, and examples from SW sites have been 'absconded' with or lost and the few that exist relate to what are known as "band tags" loosely equivalent to a ration/ID tag which are smaller, marked by a letter for the 'band' of the tribe and a sequential number for each male of warring age in that band , and have obverse markings also. Shape of the tag identified the reservation. 2019-02-13_05-09-29-PM.jpg
    What is more intriguing is that hand made tags were issued to Apache prisoners during the Apache Indian Wars (ca 1875) before boarding trains for Fort Marion in FLA as prisoners, and a Cowan's Auction photo documents two such Apache prisoners wearing virtually identical shaped tags. None are known to exist.


    The tags appear to be high copper content brass with punched numbering and a letter and weathered patina. I have found similarities between it and Charleston slave tags, in material and shape, and am relatively confident that age of the tag is consistent with turn of the 20th C or earlier. 20050220sm_biko_slavetagPJ_230.jpg

    The prior collector allegedly obtained these in the late 20th C from a network of N.Am . collectors in AZ. In short, probably 'treasure hunters.'

    Assume this is not such a prisoner tag. What else were tags used for that would look like that and are hand punched? Hotel keys, industrial tool and machinery markers, livestock? Anybody recognize the use of the tag in some industry other than POWs?

    Attached Files:

  2. verybrad

    verybrad Well-Known Member

    Intriguing …. size? Have seen similar small tags on keys used for swimmer's lockers at pools. Made of copper/brass to withstand the immersion while on the swimmer's wrist.

    The tags on the NA's in the photo seem fairly large. Larger than the swimmer's tags I remember.
    Christmasjoy and Bronwen like this.
  3. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    This devil will say what you already know: something so rare, collectible & easily faked as one of these Apache dog tags is bound to generate fraud.

    I find it curious that the 8 on yours is upside down & so out of line with the D & the 5. Feels like an attempt to make it seem cruder & older than it really is.

    As Brad asked, size?
  4. 2manybooks

    2manybooks Well-Known Member

    Which is more than DHS did toward identifying transported/separated children..........
    Jivvy, BaseballGames and Bronwen like this.
  5. Dawnno

    Dawnno Well-Known Member

    My bad: 1 13/16 x 1 3/8 inches. It was late when I posted.

    and it's a 3, so its not symmetrically invertable, but yes, the thought crossed my mind, the first thing that does usually. Conversely, why sell the only one on earth for a few bucks? (original price was $10 and I bought it for less, the price of admission to a good movie.) It's like going to the Cannes film festival to watch an unknown film maker. Might be a dud, might be the next great one if you like subtitles.
    Bronwen likes this.
  6. Dawnno

    Dawnno Well-Known Member

    Some wars never end.
    Bronwen likes this.
  7. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    In your photo thought I saw a ghost of the lines continuing around to close the circles & make an 8, but does look like a 3 with a little tinkering:


    Still think it would look better the other way up:

  8. Dawnno

    Dawnno Well-Known Member

    I like the approach, and agree about the 'upside down look' which baffles me too. It suggests to me an 'innocent' lack of care/temporary/not longterm/non-artisan approach to its manufacture.

    Any clues from the font style, punch type, etc? Aside from the off horizontal line of the two numbers, they are aligned on the same skewed angle.

    FWIW, I think the numbers were punched at the time of manufacture, b/c of the corrosion in the grooves. Doesn't preclude 'artificial aging' but now we get into the realm of "why bother"... fake the Mona Lisa for all that effort already. And unless you have a spectroscopy device of some kind...

    We are working with virtually nothing to go on, btw, so much thx.
    Bronwen likes this.
  9. Dawnno

    Dawnno Well-Known Member

    Still think it would look better the other way up:

    View attachment 174814 [/QUOTE]

    Just realized something from your 'flip': it's an optical illusion due to the shadowing and photo light angle. The eye and brain naturally wants to invert it. Try 'mentally removing' the shadow and the 3 actually looks pretty symmetrical.

    Bronwen likes this.
  10. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    The D looks stamped either by someone with very good eye-hand coordination or by machine; it is upright & centered.

    The numerals look applied freehand. Suspect the matching angles are the same thing as an individual's characteristic handwriting slant. Maybe person saw placement of the 3 was sloppy & took care to do better with the 5. (I love making up narratives to go with little clues about the life of an object.)

    As with other optical illusions, my eyes/brain can make it flicker back & forth. Agree it is probably not upside down after all.

    Did you mean reverse? Does any source describing these tags give dimensions?
    Dawnno likes this.
  11. Dawnno

    Dawnno Well-Known Member

    dimensions: short answer, no. longer answer: personal correspondence with archeologists who have seen 'one' (literally) is that band tags are somewhat smaller than my dimensions, guessing by about 25%, btw 25 and 50 cent piece-ish.

    more for thirsty historians: the brass prototype blanks of 1888 (to institutionalize the Indian).

    re: "reverse".... Obverse: corresponding to something else as its opposite or counterpart. just a linguistic choice. But I did learn by looking up the definition today that in coins, obverse is the principal design side, i.e. "heads" not "tails". I agree that I would call D 35 the obverse side then. [edited out 'not' from original, b/c it's a double negative, in error]
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2019
    Bronwen likes this.
  12. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    Now thoroughly confused. If D 35 is the only thing on the tag, that side is, by default, the obverse, the front, unless they were meant to be worn with the blank side out. Thought you were saying the band tags have a letter & number like yours, but something on the other side (the reverse) 'also', in addition.

    Have to go out now. Later, 'gator. :)
  13. 2manybooks

    2manybooks Well-Known Member

    Obverse = front, reverse = back, in application to many types of 2-sided things - prints and paintings, pages, and so forth.
    Dawnno likes this.
  14. Hollyblue

    Hollyblue Well-Known Member

    Nothing on the reverse except the letter/numbers from being stuck on a soft surface.
    Dawnno likes this.
  15. Dawnno

    Dawnno Well-Known Member

    [QUOTE="Bronwen, post: 581950, member: 5833"If D 35 is the only thing on the tag, that side is, by default, the obverse, the front, unless they were meant to be worn with the blank side out. Thought you were saying the band tags have a letter & number like yours, but something on the other side (the reverse) 'also', in addition.[/QUOTE]

    You understood right. I just used 'obverse' as 'reverse', as in the counterpart to the first side, but obverse also by definition means front, so the word itself is confusing. So the primary meaning is 'front' but the secondary meaning is 'whatever is opposite to the side you referred to first.' So the obverse to the obverse is the reverse side. Ain't English fun? Could I be more confusing? I'm just an unfrozen cave man lawyer and your world of words scares me.
    Bronwen likes this.
  16. Christmasjoy

    Christmasjoy Well-Known Member

    The photo of the two POW's makes me sad ... Joy.
    Dawnno likes this.
  17. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    The world of the words of lawyers scares the rest of us. In the numismatic & glyptics worlds, obverse always means front & reverse always means back.
    Christmasjoy and Dawnno like this.
Draft saved Draft deleted
Similar Threads: Native American
Forum Title Date
Tribal Art Native American Baskets Apr 27, 2020
Tribal Art Is this Native American? If so, what tribe? Apr 18, 2020
Tribal Art Native american moccasins?? Apr 16, 2020
Tribal Art Native American Beadwork Apr 5, 2020
Tribal Art Just a Rock, or a Native American Stone? Mar 31, 2020

Share This Page