Antique Marshall’s Badge

May 21st, 2016 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG

Badge front

This unusual estate jewelry item turned out to be are a real surprise. We purchased it along with a large group of vintage pieces– sort of an after-thought, thrown into the lot at the last minute. We don’t buy a lot of silver jewelry, but this was just funky enough to be of interest. It went into my “Later” box where it’s been languishing for several months. Last week, I was going thru the box, decided to give it a try and priced it for the estate case.

The handmade badge is set with a 12 x 10 mm cabochon turquoise center and 5 really nice dark red pyrope garnets, each about 5.5 mm, round brilliant cut with lots of sparkle.

The front has the hand engraved inscription “City Marshall” and “Gallup New Mexico”. The back is hand engraved “P. J. Dugan”

Badge reverse

It’s my habit to do a bit of research on interesting estate pieces, so I asked Mr. Google about P. J. Dugan. It turns out that P.J.Dugan was indeed  the City Marshall of Gallup from 1908 to 1911. Here’s his picture. Do you think he looks like a Wild West lawman?

Dugan less texture

Marshall Dugan

Read the oath he swore while New Mexico was still a territory. It attests to his duties on the election day when the new state constitution of New Mexico was on the ballot. I chuckled at his statement that the town was “exceedingly orderly”. Can’t you see Marshall Dugan walking around town in the bright New Mexico sun with the red garnets flashing on his silver star, checking to make sure all the saloons are  closed!

Dugan oath

Supporting the provenance, we think the garnets are the famous Anthill Pyrope Garnets found on Garnet Ridge, in the Four Corners region near Dinnehotso, Apache County, Arizona. Garnet Ridge is just a hundred miles or so north of Gallup.These pyrope garnets have a high concentration of chromium which accounts for their beautiful bright red color.

They are so named Anthill garnets because the ants of the area haul up pebbles of garnet as they make new tunnels. As a result, the margins around their ant hills are dotted with little bright red gems.

For those who love and collect jewelry, it’s rare that we’re able to connect a jewelry item to the actual period, use and person to whom it belonged. It’s also rare to have the materials match the provenance so well. You can see this unusual item in our famous Estate Department Tuesday thru Saturday, 10 – 5:30 pm. Probably won’t last long because it’s so unique.

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