I have mentioned before that I collect police badges, and I occasionally pick one up in our travels. A while back I got something from an elderly gentleman I know in Texas, and while I’m not sure if it is authentic or not, I like it and the story that went with it is very interesting. It was this old leather coin purse that is beginning to fall apart, and pinned to the outside of it is a Texas Ranger badge.
I know there are a million fake Ranger badges out there, and for all I know, this is one. He told me that a childhood friend gave it to him many years ago, and according to the friend, it was his grandfather’s. The friend knew his grandfather was a policeman of some sort in Texas when he was a young man, but that was all he knew.
Inside the coin purse were two nickels dated 1940, two series 1935 $1 silver certificates, both folded up many times, a cameo that the friend said was his grandmother as a young woman, an old cigarette that is nothing more than fragments of paper and bits of tobacco, and a wooden match.
The gentleman I got them from said that his friend’s grandfather died sometime around the start of World War II. The badge is marked sterling on the back and measures about 2½ inches high. I have seen a lot of badges, both real and fake, but never a sterling silver fake badge.
For all I know, the grandfather may have been a bullshooter, or maybe the grandson was, though I have no reason to doubt the fellow I received them from. My friend and fellow author George Wier is a Texas boy with a lot of connections in the Lone Star state, and he ran it past a friend of his, Tom Burks, who was a curator of the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum in Waco. Tom’s response was: “It’s hard to say whether the badge is absolutely genuine or not. Before 1935, a ranger could wear a number of designs because there wasn’t a regulation badge. Some didn’t wear a badge, but most did. It wasn’t until 1935, when DPS was formed, that a regulation badge was issued. The thing that fakers tend to do is overdo their work. This badge is a sterling “stock” design. Most rangers wore stock badges that were plain cheap nickel-plated brass or steel. That doesn’t mean it’s not right, it just means it’s not ordinary. In its favor is the fact that it’s a plain badge and not an elaborate jewelry-looking thing.”
I also ran it past some very knowledgeable badge collectors, and again, none could say for sure that it’s real, or declare it a fake. However, two of them did offer to buy it from me for significant sums of money. Either way, like I said, I think it’s an interesting story. Miss Terry is going to frame the whole thing for me, and I will hang it on the wall in my office. I may have to write a book around it someday.
It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of my pal Donna McNicol’s Not a Whisper, the first book in her Klondike mystery series about a small Pennsylvania town with some big secrets. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.
Thought For The Day – The doctor said don’t eat anything fatty. I appreciated the medical advice but thought the name calling was a bit much.