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Monday, November 12, 2012

Texas Ranger Badges... and those that want to be

OK, first of all, calm down.  The search for a real Texas Ranger badge is the collecting version of the Agony and the Ecstasy... and mostly agony. If you are researching a Texas Ranger badge, happily shining on your computer desk, take a deep breath, and prepare yourself for a reality check.

Here is what you probably will never find in your whole life... a real Texas Ranger badge from the "Old West"...



The granddaddy of them all... from the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame in Waco, Texas. The crude early badge in this composite / screensaver actually comes from the cover of TEXAS RANGERS by Dr. Stephen Hardin, an excellent Osprey History book on our favorite lawmen. Unfortunately, this is the only badge you will get to see in the book! Up until now, there has been no good resource about these wonderful icons of the American West.

So here is a feast for your eyes...


The real deal. Courtesy Burley Auctions, New Braunfels, Texas.

Look at this hard. This is an authentic, handmade, Texas Ranger peso badge, from the early 1900's. Maybe even earlier. The star is imperfect, the engraving varies greatly from thick to thin. Now look at the back...

The 1888 Mexican Peso used to make this Ranger star was damn near worn out by the time it was converted into a badge, suggesting the production of the badge around 1900... And considerable silver material might have been removed, especially from the reverse side, to recycle for other jewelry, by the maker. The pin is a spring "safety pin" type, which eventually fell out of favor. This badge defies much of what I am about to say... but remember, it is EXTREMELY RARE. And it sure makes identification of other, later, real badges tough.
Here is another one...


Photos courtesy Burley Auctions, New Braunfels, Texas
And the back...

1893 Mexican Peso, another spring type pin, this peso shows the angular dentils around the edge that normally should be present. Note how tiny they are. Note the clear legibility of the letters. Ignore the yellow cast, these are silver.

And another...

Courtesy Burley Auctions, New Braunfels, Texas.
AAAND back...


An 1892 peso, note how the star's arms align with the sunburst of the peso design... The brand at the top is the combination of the initials JP, for Ranger Jesse Perez.

So let's get started... with the confusion...

9/9/13  Just for example, I received a kind note recently from author/historian/collector John Boessenecker with these observations:

Russ -  I really enjoyed your post about Ranger badges.  I always say that 99% of all Ranger badges are phony.  I would not buy one without good provenance.  I have been collecting antique badges since 1978 and have bought only two, both of which were authentic...  

My thanks to John... and you will hear more from him in a moment... here is the blog... my most successful ever... But first let me explain one thing... I compiled this to protect collectors and save them a lot of money and frustration... This information is free, and I have NOTHING to gain from telling you what has come the hard way for most of us...

Now.. about the badges...










Courtesy Burley Auctions 



A true piece of Ranger history, and one of the most interesting Texas Ranger badges, Jack Dean had his fairly modern-made Ranger badge modified when he became a U. S. Marshal. Look closely at either end of the word MARSHAL, and now filled in with silver, you can still see the ghosts of the letters which spelled TEXAS RANGERS.  Also the word TEXAS was filled in and the U. S. etched into the star. Otherwise, this is a classic, authentic 1960's -70's- 80's era Texas Ranger "Peso" badge design. This item was recently sold along with the complete Jack Dean collection at Burley Auctions, in New Braunfels, Texas.


Perhaps one of the most sought after icons of Texas, if not the whole American West, are Texas Ranger badges-  The real ones. They are pretty scarce. 


Contrary to what you read, (that the early Texas Rangers did not have badges) there are reliable histories, especially the accounts of Ranger George Durham, that tell us that Captain Leander McNelly and his men of Company A were the first Texas Rangers to be issued official Texas Ranger badges, sometime in 1876, right after Reconstruction when the Rangers had been reorganized. These badges were shipped in bulk and probably all made by the same silversmith in Austin, and sent to the company which was fighting banditos in South Texas. But I have never (knowingly) even seen a picture of one, or even of a Ranger wearing one. A badge like that, with provenance, would be worth a fortune. Really. And most of us will never see one. (This may have changed recently, read on)

I have however, seen hundreds…  maybe thousands of fakes. Outside of museums I have only seen a few Texas Ranger badges that were authentic. At any given time you can find a dozen or so reproductions for sale on Internet auctions, and sometimes a real old Ranger badge appears to be slipping through.  As a rule, you can relax, because most badges you come across are just fairly cheap, pitiful tributes to the greatest state law enforcement organization in the world.  But if you actually found a real one, AND THAT HAS HAPPENED, how would you know?


From now dispersed Schreiner Collection, Little John's Auction catalogue.

Probably made in the '70's, Senior Captain Clint Peoples' gold Ranger badge was probably the product of modern machine die-stamping, lacking the thick and thin lines of the older badges, but with some hand-engraving for personalization. Note the visible stem between the oak leaves, (not typical). You can perceive the difference in making the near perfect die-stamped letters ( TEXAS RANGERS ) with the custom hand-engraved ones, (name and rank); leaning C in CAPT, the P's do not match in PEOPLES... and other imperfections in the hand lettering. As in most modern badges, all details however are filled with black powdered-glass enamel, which makes the letters and details pop.

The modern Texas Ranger badges were die-stamped and then engraved, on a 1947 or '48 Mexican 5 ("Cinco") Peso coin (Because they were almost completely made of silver). The engraving and the Pesos have changed over the years, but there are telltale signs to look for.


Schreiner Collection, Little John's auction catalogue

An early modern era (1960's), hand-engraved Texas Ranger "Peso" badge. Note the thick and thin decoration lines and irregularities in lettering of hand-engraving. Also the stretched letters on TEXAS and the crammed letters in RANGERS. Never-the-less, crisp details in the stitching around the star, distinct differences between the plant stems.


Here are a variety of REAL modern badges from the 1930's - 80's. The top left was probably not made from a Mexican Cinco (5) Peso coin. The crude one on the top right seems to have Native American motifs of some kind... LIKE DREAM CATCHERS WITH FEATHERS on either side! I call ones like these"ABERRANGERS." The two on the bottom are samples of modern Ranger badges reflecting the "retro" trend of the 1960's.


From now dispersed Schreiner Collection, Little John's Auction catalogue. Top row; 1930's, bottom row; (Peso badges) 1960's- '90's.


A probable fake made to simulate the later die-stamped badges, cast from a mold, as the slick back suggests it is not made from a Peso. Note the sketchy stitching around the star, and the lack of any kind of stem on the plant stem on the left to connect the leaves... which appear to be floating.


This reproduction badge was stamped STERLING. No attempt was made to make this badge look like a Mexican coin.




From now dispersed Schreiner Collection, Little John's Auction catalogue. Top left; (Peso badge)1962 to 90's, top right; 1930's "aberranger",
bottom left, much eschewed; 1957 - '62 "bottle cap", bottom right, also not popular shield; 1938- '57. 

 Above are authentic modern era Texas Ranger Badges since the 1930's. For over seventy years, their badges have identified them as an official part of the Department of Public Safety. Many Rangers felt like they were losing their distinction, as the DPS badges were almost identical in design. Popular lore is that some Rangers had their own "retro" Peso badges made... as far back as the 1930's, like the one below.



Ebay

But from where I sit,  this is a fake.



This is a darn convincing apparition from the front, but I have not found a single authenticated badge like this.   Although Internet Auctions give the impression that an authentic Ranger badge can be had for a few hundred dollars almost every week, this is not the case. Most, if not all of the ones you see are fantasies or intentional forgeries. And the variance of craftsmanship makes positive ID on Ranger badges difficult. But let's assume some of these are the real deal... One concern should be the branches on either side, which (ABOVE^) are almost indistinguishable from one another (and they should look very different, as different as oak from wheat).



And yet some old, authentic badges don't look much better....



From now dispersed Schreiner Collection, Little John's Auction catalogue.

Important note: Most badges from this period (60's - 80's), if they used the old Peso design, still had the words DEPT. OF PUBLIC SAFETY across the top. Later badges in the Seventies began to lose the D.P.S. and as in the past, put the holder's name instead. I'm sure that rank sometimes had something to do with the name badges. New Rangers might have been issued a generic badge, and with time they had custom badges made.
I see serious collectors get caught up in the excitement of the hunt and purchase questionable relics all the time. We want to find one so bad, we will rationalize a great deal…. We think, this may be our lucky day. So if you are researching Texas Ranger badges, before you purchase one, and are looking for advice, you came to the wrong place. I am just as big of a sucker as the next guy. But I see many Internet auction bidders compete for so-called Peso badges every week, paying exorbitant prices for pure deceptions. And often even I want to bid... they are often very tantalizing. Especially those genius Internet auctions where the seller intentionally posts awful photography, slightly blurring the details, letting you fill in the blanks with your imagination! And they are so careful about what they DO NOT SAY!

These clever sellers let our greed do the talking! And the thinking. But the red flags are usually flying in my mind. I often have to remind myself the basics to collecting this great icon. And I hate seeing so many people get ripped off. 

*I have to remind myself the scarcity of authenticated  non-DPS marked Peso badges.

*I have to remind myself of the devious and disarming ways hucksters will market replicas of highly coveted historical items; They will employ any method necessary to get your money.

*
I have to constantly tell myself not to let my desire or imagination pull the trigger on a purchase. I have to be hard to convince, or end up with a drawer full of expensive disappointments; To study, VERY CAREFULLY,  the PESO on the back!   

I provide this blog for convenient comparison, FOR MYSELF AS MUCH AS ANYONE, and in the process try to share what I have learned so far. I go back and read it myself almost every time I want to bid on a Ranger badge... The following informatiion is an introduction to this passionate quest, which will probably end in failure for most of you. Still, the search goes on…


One of the oldest of these Peso badges known to me, which was believed to have originated in the early 1900's. It was marketed along with the Colt revolver, holster and gunbelt of Ranger Jules Baker. Since it appears to be hand-engraved with a tool, and lacks much of the machine engraving commonly associated with the later models, it seems plausible. The font, HOWEVER,  amazingly matches those done fifty years later! It would have to be that it or one of its litter-mates was used as the prototype for the 1960's Peso badges.


From Raymond Brown Collection, Tom Keilman Auction Catalogue.
Lacking much embellishment, this was Ranger Frank Hamer's Peso badge around 1913, right after he returned to the Force. Although the photo is terrible, it is obvious this badge is very similar to the one above, and seems to suggest the Ranger Peso badges go back at least that far.

From now dispersed Schreiner Collection, Little John's Auction catalogue.

Little is known about this messy, authenticated badge, sold from the Schreiner Collection in 2003. A little crude, as these early badges were all hand-cut and hand-engraved, but  its design seems to be the inspiration for the many fakes on the market today. Note the telltale thick and thin engraving of hand work, (kind of like a felt tip pen mark) dating the badge to the 1960's or probably even earlier. The lettering is barely passable. RANGER is crudely centered. I'm picky, and this badge would torment me without some provenance.. And ultimately I would have been afraid of this badge...  without seeing the Peso on the reverse, so you see the problem...



A one-of-a-kind, script- lettered and poorly made badge, even for the early days. Company D in script... This one even looks crude, new (no patina) and counterfeit. If it walks like a duck...



An atypical, yet beautiful design, which is an authentic alternative modern style. Although very intriguing, a collector has to ask, what are the chances? In this case, something over the top, with frills and dogwood blossoms is right-on. Right when you think you have it figured out, something comes along that destroys your confidence. It is on the back of the badge where you can usually get some clues of authenticity and some peace of mind. Counterfeiters can forge the badge itself pretty well, but few have succeeded in replicating the Mexican Peso on the back!

My first advice is to go ahead and buy some of the repops, as they are quite instructive. Some of them actually mimic important characteristics which you will be looking for. Second of all, understand the huge diversity of the actual badges. A real one may not look anything like what you will be expecting. Although the fakes do sometimes almost fool some of us, it’s only because we forget that... as we stare hopefully into the computer monitor.


Replicas... Dangerously Close


A fairly authentic, Sterling silver (and I assume authorized, die-stamped replica) limited reproduction of an early Texas Ranger badge design made by the Franklin Mint. Although made after an authentic design, it is HUGE, almost 1 3/4 inches in diameter, a full 1/2 inch larger than the originals. It is possible that Franklin Mint was not copying a design that was originally made from a Peso... These were sold in sets with other badges of the Old West in the 1980's. They sell for around $50.00 - $100.00. As these are handled and gain a patina, they will become a bigger nuisance. But the size is a dead give away. The Texas Rangers have been known to grant permission to reputable badge makers to manufacture limited numbers of historic Ranger badges, for collectors and re-enactors. They have also been known to require some tell-tale inaccuracies to be used in the designs of the replicas so that the originals are easily distinguished from the replicas.

Fake Peso on back of Franklin Mint badge... Ebay

Not surprisingly, Franklin Mint does a good job simulating the Mexican Five Peso coin of the 1940's, but actual cuts of an actual Peso nearly shave the bottoms of the letters ESTADOS UNIDOS MEXICANOS.  The designers at Franklin Mint could not resist the temptation of enlarging the whole badge, and then slightly rearranging the elements to make them more balanced.  

Ebay
 Sold inexpensively on Ebay as a faithful reproduction, this badge has several tell-tale shortcomings. probably dye stamped, the font is too small and is not extended enough, the plant stems are jumbled and indistinct, and the period after the Coo is HUGE! 
Most reproductions, even the good ones, trying to appear authentic, focus on mimicking the official badges that were officially adopted very late. The most common form, like those above, the relentless silver star in a circle, that reads TEXAS RANGERS on the circle and features some bad facsimiles of plant stems of various descriptions on either side, with "Co. A" inside the star, is the one that pops up so much it is humorous.  Nobody seems to have served in the other companies...  And yet there are probably real ones, but authentic Peso badges we see so often would just as likely have Co. F, B, C, D or whatever on them... But if they are the real deal, they are a design that was used in the 1960’s or later, and are not really relics of the Old West.

 A real one of these '60's nostalgic badges, without a name inscribed might bring $500 - $1,500. Originally they were hand-cut out of Mexican 5 Peso coins… which can be easily seen on the backside. They were also hand engraved, until dye stamping took over. But also in that period it was quite common for a Ranger to have his name inscribed into the badge, and that is where you can study the difference between the dye stamping and the hand work.  One that has no name on it might be real… but is worth much less as it has no traceable provenance and may have seen very short service, if any at all. No doubt badge makers let a few nameless badges slip between the cracks before it got so sticky to have them. So if you are going to buy a Ranger badge, this model is the easiest to locate and yet the hardest to authenticate. But here are a few tips.


 Ebay

Looks promising, BUT... from my expertise, this is not made from a Mexican coin, and hand-cut or dye cut and engraved, but has been cast from a mold. The "stitching" around the contour of the star is badly done, seems primitive, more like  erratically spaced dots (probably due to poor or worn out molds in the casting process). The details, especially the letters inside the star have the appearance of being reworked while still in the wax, giving them a randomly widened and crude, irregular effect. The font is also too big. Also, the spacing between the E and R in RANGE RS is off. If this badge had been made by a real badge maker, it would have, should have been discarded. The winning bidder had to pay over $200.00 for this questionable item. I have seen multiple badges like this sold on Ebay. THINK ABOUT IT! By the 1960's the Texas Rangers would never have accepted such shoddy craftsmanship, whether dye stamped, hand cut,  or cast. If you see two badges, both having the same anomaly in letter spacing, when these are supposedly dye cut and stamped... that means the badge maker had to mass produce this exact mistake in spacing... and this is not likely... but he didn't because this was CAST. It is a fake. Read on...

The big tell-tale sign is the design of the so–called Peso design on the back. Some fakers, yes, they would go to this kind of trouble, will use a real peso…  but fail to use one old enough to match the ERA THEY ARE COUNTERFEITING. Some late Teens, Twenties and Thirties Pesos had very little silver in them, and were not suitable for the badge making process. But by 1947, when silver once again made up around 90% of the content, the Mexican Peso had shrunk. So to add to the confusion, an actual One Peso coin from the "silver period" period was way too small to be used... (silver values went up) so in 1947 and '48, Mexico issued these same Mexican eagle designs with the Aztec chief Cuauhtemoc on the obverse and issued them in the Five Peso denomination. The Five Peso coin of these two years is almost exactly the same size (slightly larger) as the historic silver Mexican One Peso from earlier years, the one used by the earlier Texas Rangers.

SIZE MATTERS: Top (by itself), the eagle design on the Turn of the Century Mexican Pesos; (Second row, left-rt) a 1920's shrinking peso eagle, with not much silver and unsuitable, in the middle a Texas Ranger badge for comparison, and a Franklin Mint replica. (Bottom row) A 1947 Mexican Peso (too small),  1910 Mexican Peso known as the "Caballito", and bottom right, the most copied Peso eagle, the 1947 Mexican FIVE PESO coin.

Sometimes the fakers will take an actual handmade badge (Not necessarily a real Ranger badge!), and make a mold from it and cast it in brass or silver alloy. They can make hundreds of these from one mold, using the lost wax process. But the letters and details will be… strange, not worn like a coin, the letters on the "coin" will be raised, and yet somewhat flattened and lack any sharp edges, or any crisp corners, which are often lost in the molding and casting process. Many badge sellers advertise “cut from a Mexican Peso” when it is just cast from one to appear so.
Ebay

The fake Peso (in my estimation) on the back is pretty easy to spot, just take note of the fat, blurry, misshapen, almost swollen letters on the reverse side above. This is typical after taking a mold and casting from a replica. A lot is lost in the translation. Also the patina has been artificially applied to the "peso" to enhance its visual appeal. Mexican coin craftsmanship is far superior to this, and remains so after considerable wear. See below.

 The real deal.
In 1947, the Mexican Government began to issue a Cinco Peso with this eagle design... for a couple of years... so here you should make two personal notes; First, any Ranger badge with this design on the back, even if it is authentic, could be no older than the coin, and 2nd, the details on the badge should be fairly crisp, and as this coins shows, there are considerable details in the oak and olive branches and dentils on the edge which should survive as well.



FYI, this the obverse design, which the badge makers obliterated to make the later Ranger badges. This is  a portrait of the legendary Aztec chief, Cuauhtemoc..   

So let’s say you are looking at a possible fake, and the red flags have shot up in your mind over the reverse side. Let's go back to the front, or obverse side.

 
     
The engraving of scroll work on the badge, such as the curly-cues and stitching around the border of the star, would have been hand-done in the fifties or before with an engraving tool, and will have a “thick to thin” line, or inconsistency, which indicates hand craftsmanship. That is a good thing. There will be very sharp features... almost triangular chisel marks  made with the engraving tool, and the overall look will be more like calligraphy. 
The modern and reproduction badges, although great looking, are done with dye stamping and engraving machines, and the lines are machine precise. Or in other words, there is almost no variance in thickness of line, and very few anomalies,thus more perfect badges.

 The value goes up as the the badge gets older. It goes up if the badge has a name on it. It goes up if the details on the Peso on the reverse side are right... And almost none of the badges I see on Ebay pass this test.

 Ebay
 Die-stamped with intentional imperfections, no thick and thin here. I call this common replica the "leaning C" badge... as the almost italic C does not match the rest of the font on the badge. And once again, that giant period after Co...

IF it is real. Even the pin hardware on the back will have the look of precision and quality. The pin and clasp are substantial, well functioning, attached very cleanly, no solder splashes or overflow, in other words, done as if a TEXAS RANGER WAS GOING TO PIN IT ON.





There is nothing junky in appearance about the 60’s badges. They were made with pride, out of real Pesos that had high silver content and had not been worn out… mine, that I think might actually be real, is dated 1901. Well, at least the PESO is real! This was the obverse side and these pesos were used from 1867 to 1905.


Surprise! Here is a fairly modern vintage Texas Ranger badge cut from a 1901 Mexican Peso, using a Peso from when "Peso" badges  evolved... known as the Second Republic period.



The artwork on the obverse side of the coin depicts a "freedom cap," known since ancient times as the "Phrygian cap," in front of sun rays, with the word LIBERTAD inscribed at the bottom.  Early badges will be made from Mexican Pesos like this from the early 1900's.  Below is the Ranger badge belonging to Ranger John R. Peavey. The badge maker chose to use the eagle on the reverse side of a similar coin for the back...


Reverse side of Mexican Peso around 1900, which reads REPUBLICA MEXICANA, quite different from the later Pesos.


1902 Mexican Peso, Second Republic period, reads REPUBLICA MEXICANA. 


Later authentic badges,  from the 1960's, using much later CINCO PESOs, might look like the one below.


The real deal. This is the reverse side of Ranger Bradley Freeman's Peso badge. I do not know whether these are dye cut from actual 1940'S Pesos, then plated with gold, or are extremely fine castings from molds of some kind of gold alloy... My guess is they were die-stamped, cut and plated coins. You can see every beautifully formed feather on the Mexican eagle. It appears that the coin's edge has been smoothed... and not that precisely. 

For the badge to be in proportion, the letters on the Mexican coin will have to be shaved a little on the bottom. The letters are dimensional. In other words, they will catch light and cast a shadow. They should be crisp. There will be sufficient negative space between the letters. EVEN IF THE COIN IS WORN, THERE IS NO REASON FOR THE LETTERS TO BE SMUDGED, MASHED OR MISSHAPEN! The next time you are tempted to bid on one of those fakes, pull a coin out of your pocket and look at the details... and ask, does the back of the badge have that kind of clarity? It should!

Even when quite worn, the lettering will still be pretty crisp.


IF YOU CANNOT INSPECT THE BACK OF THE BADGE, THEN BUY AT YOUR OWN RISK.



Historic Badges

The oldest known Texas Ranger badges are very different from any of those above. There are so few from before the turn of the Nineteenth Century, that there can be little said about them. There are none on display at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame in Waco, Texas.

It seems that Ranger badges were not even used much until 1900. The following, very rare  badges are on display at the TRHF. 

 Texas Ranger Hall of Fame

A small hand-made badge circa 1900. The letters appear to be stamped rather than engraved, which would have been expected. A replica of this badge has been authorized. In the early days, the badges would often read TEXAS STATE RANGER or RANGER FORCE. Compare the fonts above to the much later Peso badges. Very different.



Texas Ranger Hall of Fame

This shield design was from around 1910. Fairly good reproductions of this badge are available on the Internet. Enter the extended Helvetica font which became the norm later.



Here it is. Circa 1910. Proof that the early Texas Rangers, at least some of them, used a star in a circle cut out of a Mexican Peso. There is no fancy etching or artistry. Edwin D. Aten was a brother of Ira Aten, the famous Texas Ranger. Check out the back! Look closely! This is your best authenticated badge to compare to...

UPDATE from John Boessenecker "...the Eddie Aten badge you picture on your website. I bought that at auction but only after I found out that the consignor had a letter of provenance which Heritage did not list in the catalog description. That is an 1890 cinco peso with a Hermosillo, Sonora, mint mark. So this badge was made in 1892 when Aten joined the Rangers and the coin was new."



WHAT? No eagle, rather a sunburst behind the cap of freedom.. Dated 1890. The word, or parts of the word  LIBERTAD are often visible in the crotch of the star. Note how the points of the star line up perfectly with the rays of the sun!




Early Bronze/Brass Badges

In the early days, before there was any standardization of Ranger badges, many solutions were tried, including cheaply made, homespun and even some mail order badges. Around the turn of the Century, until the popularity of the cinco peso took over, a low ranking or former Ranger might carry one of these unofficial badges. Often made of brass or bronze, they were cut out of brass or bronze sheet metal and inscribed with various things... and these badges tend to be larger (1 3/4") than the average peso-sized badge (1 1/2")... But they were rarely even pinned on the peacemaker where they could be seen. I have never seen a photograph of a Ranger wearing such a badge, but we know they existed. I have seen a few badges pinned to a gunbelt... and no doubt a few were worn under the vest... Many Rangers considered the badge a very tempting target.


From now dispersed Schreiner Collection, Little John's Auction catalogue.

The pigmented lettering on J. Eagle Vaughn's oldest Ranger badge, made from brass, is from early in the Century and is reminiscent of Ed Aten's badge.



Courtesy, Ranger Bob Connell (retired) 

Ranger Captain M. E. Bailey's exhumed brass/bronze? badge from around 1910. Stamped letters, no hand-etched scroll work, CAPTAIN CO B in the star. Has the appearance of being manufactured, perhaps by a custom-mail order company. Many might have called this one a fake... but I know the guy that dug it here in Navasota at Bailey's old home site, and the guy that owns it now... a retired Texas Ranger. This pops the bubble of the predominant lore of the Peso, the silver, and the size.. This thing is almost two inches in diameter. You can read more about it by clicking on the link below:
http://russellcushman.blogspot.com/2012/09/a-texas-ranger-badge-makes-visit-to.html



From Raymond Brown Collection, Tom Keilman Auction Catalogue.

Captain Frank Hamer also had this brass/bronze badge early in his career... probably around 1915.  His son Frank Hamer Jr. wrote an authentication of it, but declared that it was carried by Hamer from 1909-1913, during the time he worked in Navasota and Houston... Decent replicas of this basic badge have been offered for sale.... but they are cast in silver alloy and a bit smaller in diameter.

Here begins one of the several questions/discrepancies between mine and the official Texas Ranger Hall of Fame website:  The badge design above is labeled as a fake, especially when seen on brass cartridge belt buckles, by the TRHF... calling into question Frank Hamer Jr., a Ranger himself, as a possibly misinformed heir, who gave written assurances about this badge and its authenticity, (provenance provided when it was sold at the Raymond Brown Collection auction in 1986). I admit his suggested time period was questionable... but when and how did this badge find its way into the Hamer estate, if not a possession of Frank Hamer's? 

Was it a forgery that he had retrieved sometime during his career? Or a cheap but perfectly allowable mail-order product, available with MATCHING BANDOLEER BUCKLES, purchased by a young Texas Ranger, which became obsolete when he took his job in Navasota? Perhaps a few were made on special order for legitimate purposes and even fewer survived... but ONE, or perhaps one of the dies,  made it into the replica maker's hands... years ago before much was known or recorded... Because this same design has been incorporated into modern "replica" brass cartridge belt buckles... with alleged fake Patent dates of antiquity... 

These buckles were supposedly used by Rangers in this period... similar to the more familiar Mexican bandito cartridge belts.

All of the bandoleer belt buckles are said to be frauds...

But check out this very old photograph of Captain Phillips...


Capt. Phillips wears a buckle strikingly similar to replica buckles.





A similar (reproduction) U. S. Army buckle of the period for comparison.

 And here is another shot, this time of Captain Fox...



Captain Fox also appears to be wearing one of these canvas cartridge belts, or bandoleers. The buckle may be on the far left of his waist... and he seems to wear the buckle out of sight for some reason. Early Rangers always considered badges the same as targets, and rarely exposed them except as a last resort. This led to the misconception that there were  no badges at all. Might the bandoleer buckles have been treated much the same?


In any case, we know the Texas Rangers used these canvas bandoleers, the question is were there ever Ranger buckles commissioned for them? It is certainly possible... and also possible they were not well received, and relatively few were sold to the State of Texas. There may have been an unwanted surplus laying around in a warehouse for decades until somebody ran across them and realized their commercial value.

Sometimes, when you are the last word on something, it is tempting to dismiss aberrations and  throw the baby out with the bath water. "Better safe than sorry." But suddenly I have to acknowledge that these brass cartridge belt buckles may have more basis in fact. Given the Hamer badge, and its kinship to the brass cartridge belt buckles, maybe the TRHF should consider this badge design, and even the bandoleer buckles with more interest... 

It would sure be nice if this badge in question would surface so we could all examine it...



Anyway, above is a bronze Texas Ranger badge I snagged on Ebay... much like Frank Hamer's earliest badge, without the frills... circa 1910-1915... it MIGHT be real... Haven't seen many like this in bronze, with a naturally achieved patina that suggests some age.



...Frank Hamer's earliest ranger badge is certainly a possible archetype for the controversial cartridge belt buckles and their modern reproductions. It is worthy of note that:

1) Captain Frank Hamer was active on the border (1906-1920) when and where these cartridge belts were popular. So the time is right for the overlap.

2) He and one of his closest Ranger cronies, Capt. M. E. Bailey both had cheap bronze, stamped badges during this period.
3) It is unlikely that anyone seeking to conjure up a buckle, (or a badge) some decades ago, would have ever seen or beheld the bronze Hamer badge in order to have copied it perfectly, OR 
4) would have chosen to reproduce something so useless, as they do not fit on regular belts. The re-enactor thing and its accompanying authenticity craze came much later.
5) It would have taken several coincidences for the above cartridge belt buckle to have evolved as a fantasy relic. 1) Some enterprising person would have to have picked up this rare badge design somewhere, probably from an existing badge, and even though it was not a "known" design, 2) had the wherewithal and desire to produce a bandoleer buckle from it, and 3) used a style of buckle and a badge design absolutely perfectly appropriate for the period, even knowing what information to impress in the back of the buckle to make it seem authentic. This would be the greatest and luckiest counterfeiter in the world. There is a less believable possibility that some over-zealous Hollywood movie sutler had some of these clever forgeries made up for various Western productions... for "authenticity," forever muddying the waters of  Ranger history. If so, they never seemed to have caught on as cinema ranger equipment.

So it is easier for me to imagine these aberrations as obscure ranger relics rather than uncannily accurate, yet unprofitable commercial conjurations.

Still, as frustrating as it all is, I have to withhold judgment, but I will purchase some of these if I can get them right... just in case!





And This Is REAL !
Photo courtesy Burley Auctions, New Braunfels, Texas


Yep. This small brass badge [1920's?] was a part of artist Donald Yena's fantastic collection sold at Burley Auctions in New Braunfels, Texas. And it looks like a toy... Lord help us! Turns out there was a legit inspiration for the toy lawman badge we all wore as kids in 1950's!



To add to the confusion between my blog and the official TRHF website, I submit another badge sold at Burley Auctions in 2014...

It was probably the "Holy Grail" of Texas Ranger badges!

But according to TRHF, this is probably a fake... as they note there are no authenticated badges with the designation of "Frontier Battalion" on them. Maybe so... but Ranger Rudd's small State Ranger FB badge might well have been the only surviving Ranger badge from the Captain McNelly era... One of the first Ranger badges ever made, when the Rangers once, untypically, were issued badges to the Frontier Battalion in the late 1870's. Or it might have been one of a kind...


And there was another FB badge at the auction... Now folks, this has GOT to be the real thing! This and the other FB badge stirred considerable interest at the auction, as they should have. Both are extremely rare, perhaps one of a kind, and there is no precedent or other badge to compare to... this scares museums and experts... and invigorates collectors! So the best stuff is ALWAYS in PRIVATE COLLECTIONS...

The smart thing is never say never...



Mini- Badges & non-PESO Badges


Texas Ranger Hall of Fame

A small badge, around 1 1/4 inches  diameter.  From around 1920, this was a diminutive predecessor to the typical badge we all think of today.


From now dispersed Schreiner Collection, Little John's Auction catalogue.

Thinner and smaller than a Peso, this crude, hand-cut and stamped, yet unimpressive, nickel "Special Ranger" badge makes you wonder what was so special...

Butt Ugly, a Co. F. Badge circa 1919, marketed on an online auction, along with a fabulous Texas Ranger image collection, all absolutely authentic. The wonderful font is very similar to the small badge above and the Co A. badge at the very beginning of this blog.


No Peso.



Gold Badges



From now dispersed Schreiner Collection, Little John's Auction catalogue.

A handsome badge from the 1920's. Many were made from brass, and not from any kind of coin. NOTE: Most of the earlier badges say TEXAS RANGER, singular.



From now dispersed Schreiner Collection, Little John's Auction catalogue.

"RANGER FORCE" 1930's



 From now dispersed Schreiner Collection, Little John's Auction catalogue.

Captain Frank Hamer's eagle and shield badge, circa 1930's.




Captain Frank Johnson's buhitchin' Ranger FORCE badge... circa 1909. This badge is a monument to hand craftsmanship!


Special Ranger Badges

Ranger Clint People's Special Ranger badge.


An IDENTICAL badge, but in gold. When you compare these two, note the asymmetrical X and enlarged A in TEXAS, in both. Even the inner rim circle around the star plays out in exactly the same place (upper left). This suggests that by the late period, they were machine stamped with a die,  with "anomalies" accepted and even intended to separate real badges from fakes. These idiosyncrasies would be hard to counterfeit.



Related Badges


{My error} An 1870's pressed metal shield badge of the Texas State Police... a Reconstruction era enforcement agency, instituted by the Federal occupiers and hated by most Texans. John Wesley Hardin made a career out of killing them with no hesitation.

UPDATE from John Boessenecker: "The Texas State Police badge you illustrate is a real badge but it is from the 1930s, not 1870. This type of badge did not exist in the 1870s. A number of these have surfaced, with numbers ranging from 3 to over 300. One possibility is that they were made in 1934-1935 in anticipation of the creation of a state police by Governor Allred and were never issued, because the DPS was formed instead. That would account for the fact that the badge you show never had a number attached to it."

Thanks again to John for graciously sharing his knowledge.  [ NOTE: I have to add that a similar badge was sold at Burley's during the sale of Donald Yenas' collection, and it was attributed to the Reconstruction era...  SEE BELOW- The controversy continues...]


State Police badge sold at Burley Auctions, part of the Donald Yena collection, as an authentic badge from the Reconstruction era... It is pressed tin, thin and lightweight, and very valuable, whatever it is.



From now dispersed Schreiner Collection, Little John's Auction catalogue.

Official badge of "Special Rangers" assigned to the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.  This badge is probably from the 1930's- '40's.

Many men were awarded badges like these during the infamous Ferguson Administration of the 1930's.  Movie stars, entertainers, political allies... 



Modern Badges


By the early 1930's there still was no uniformity to the Texas Ranger badge. The Rangers went to work to resolve that and there were probably several different results during this period until the final, first official badge was selected. It was about this time that the Texas Rangers were absorbed into the Texas Department of Public Safety (Highway Patrol).

Silver and gold badges emerged that were shields of sorts, with the Texas star, and the plant stems... very sharp, crisp details... this is probably a combination cast and a dye stamped badge and is fairly heavy. Some suspicious cast forgeries of this beautiful badge show up as well.

Ebay
This badge came into use around 1938.


It also came in gold... 


Fakes, Forgeries and Toys

  
 Ebay
COMPARE! (To the above) Beware of dull, flawed fakes, cast from molds off of authentic badges, and not worth anything. In casting forgeries, the embossed letters swell, and the engraved letters shrink. The near bulbous letters on this badge are an outrage to anybody who knows and admires badges; Extremely inconsistent thickness, (this style featured a clean, helvetica font) and terrible alignment, uneven letters, improper spacing... the word OF is crammed too close to DEPT. The word SAFETY has no common baseline. The star has been put to a grinder and barely buffed. It should be smooth as glass... People are fooled by cheap artistry...  such as the patina, which makes it look old, but also enhances the casting flaws that would never pass inspection. Study the words TEXAS RANGERS, on this badge and all their pits and dings. I guess it's possible this officer was fired upon with rat shot... and then had the badge buffed...

The above style of badge was used until the Peso-star form was adopted in the 1960's, basically a throwback to the "old timey days." The lore became, "Look for the Mexican Peso for authenticity..."

FOR MORE ON HOW TO DETECT a fake Ranger badge, check out this blog...



For the official word on AUTHENTIC Texas Ranger badges, there is no better source than the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame... Here is a convenient link:




"AberRangers"

AberRangers are Ranger badge aberrations which cannot be totally dismissed, or totally accepted, until we know more. They are badges that look really intriguing, but have some characteristic which causes concern... Really BAD artwork in the engraving; A misspelled word; The wrong kind of peso, or one really worn smooth before it was made into a badge. Still they look and feel like they are the real deal... But we post those red flags in our minds for self-protection... We don't like something we have never seen before.  But in this article you have already seen a lot of things you have never seen before... the kinds of things that used to tempt most appraisers to scoff at them. We all have our pet-peeves and hate to be fooled or cheated.

And we are all almost too cynical. But spending lots of money makes you become that way. Aberrangers are those badges that cause us to lose sleep at night... because we would rather not buy one, and risk losing the deal of the Century, than be taken. I was pretty skeptical about badges made from 1950's Cinco Pesos. Consisting of around 72% Silver, it seemed unlikely that a Texas Ranger would have his badge made from one. One of my readers tells in the comment section about his father having his fairly crude ranger badge made in the 1950's by a fly-by-night jeweler in Mexico. After another of my suspicious readers basically called him an impostor, I disregarded both comments, not knowing what to think.

Recently the ANONYMOUS reader who had been called an impostor offered a very plausible defense, and I think satisfied everyone that the second reader was guilty of making unfair assumptions and subsequent libelous allegations. And I went back and reconsidered his warm recollections about his father's favorite badge. About this time this badge came across the Internet auction... so here is an "Aberranger"!


I loved this little badge, even if it was a hoax... and in fact at first I thought it was... but it had a striking kinship to the second badge shown on this blog... (see top)

Whittled and hand-engraved out of a 1953 Cinco Peso, I decided it was a wonderful item, if only for reenacting. There are plenty of fakes made from these 50's Cinco Pesos. But this one had just good enough artwork and stamping, to be worn by a humble Texas Ranger, who like my reader's father, hated the "bottlecaps" issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety and had his own made to is liking. These Pesos have more silver than later pesos, and might easily have been used by someone not well informed about the comparative silver content of one peso over another. My conclusion was it could have happened.
1953 Cinco Peso

On the rim of this Cinco Peso is written   COMERCIO   AGRICULTURA   INDUSTRIA.

Once I got it, I was even more in love with the badge. It may not be the real deal... and I may never know, But it will drive everybody crazy in the meantime! 
.72% silver, Father Hidalgo is commemorated on the obverse of this large coin...
After I acquired this badge, I reread one of my reader's comments about his father, who was a Texas Ranger... which helps explain some "aberrangers"...

 "Anonymous" wrote:




...My Father was a Texas Ranger from 1960 to 1961 when he was killed in the line of duty. This was during the "Blue Bottle Cap" badges that the rangers HATED.

He was stationed in El Paso when he first became a Ranger, and being a traditionalist, he hopped over the border & had a street merchant make him a peso badge out of a 5 dollar peso. He thought it was great, although it's very crude looking.

But that didn't stop him from going home and putting the "Bottle Cap" badge in a drawer & pinning the peso badge on - and that's the badge he wore everyday & the badge he had pinned to his chest when he was killed.

Now you tell me - is that a REAL Texas Ranger badge? He had it made on his own - it looks very crude (being done by a street merchant) but it was commissioned by an honest-to-God Ranger & worn by him while on duty.

But without telling the "experts" who I am & where this badge came from - every single one has told me it's a fake.
So take heart...some of you may truly own a genuine badge - including the writer of this article.

You have to realize that my dad was not the only Ranger to go have their own badges made in the 50'6 & 60's. Lots (if not all) of them did.

The one REAL reason I would be suspicious of a Ranger peso badge is because the only people who would have one (that's less than a hundred years old) would either be the Ranger, or his family.
And you can take it from the son of a Ranger - there's no way in hell we'd ever sell it! 




AND NOW...

The Wanna'-bes... 


A comparison from sublime to ridiculous...


Here are few hilarious examples of  bogus pesos...

Ebay

The spring-type pin is of course not right either...

Ebay
Sharp, but fake details!! 


Ebay

Not so hilarious, this really pitiful, blurred casting job attracted 11 bids on Ebay... and sold for way too much for what it is.


Ebay
BEWARE!

 Probably because it actually says Co. C and not A, this clever badge attracted 20 bids on Ebay and sold for over $500.00! People wake up!  The C must be for Crude, as this badge is not only a poor casting, (probably from a real Ranger badge) but has obvious casting flaws... such as the rat chews on the inside of the circle next to the right leg on the star. The "Peso" marks on the reverse are typical for a cast forgery.

Ebay

Hmmmmm. Albeit beautifully conceived, and very much old style, this handsome badge was poorly executed... the band saw over-cuts at the star-points ruin the suspension of disbelief. And the letters are badly stamped... R up, A down... G up... Too bad, because this would be great for a re-enactor. Note: Still, after my observations, this could be real... a primitively made frontier badge, but the preponderance of fakes makes buying a questionable badge on Ebay or wherever, a very questionable way to acquire such a treasure. But this could be the real deal, if compared to one known early badge with real sloppy craftsmanship, especially the letter stamping.  The tiny, sporty stars, rare, but possible for an early, handmade frontier badge, (compare to H. E. Garner's cheesy Special Ranger badge ) So how did I make my call? You have to look even closer... and THINK. The font is very much like the '60's badges... too incredible for a coincidence. So if it is authentic, it is from the 1930's or later...  Also, and more importantly, the back was buggered up, and the pin gone and a screw button attached, as if it had been attached to a holster or gunbelt... not a typical Ranger thing to do... more of a Hollywood / Old West re-enactor style ... AND last of all, as this would have to be a very old badge to justify the poor craftsmanship... yet is IT IS MADE WITH A MODERN ERA PESO, like the 1960's Ranger badges are known for. And from where I sit... a FAKE one.

Ebay
Close... but no cigar.



This fake attracted 7 bids and ultimately brought $138.00 on ebay.


The back tells the whole story: a cast fake. But nice finding! (pin & swivel)




In this case, Company F.-  for FAKE.


And they get much worse...
Ebay

the bold- fresh Ranger..


Ebay

Pretty cool looking badge... until you look at the back!

 Ebay

The Mexican Government should track these replica makers down for slandering them. I don't know if there is any significance to the year 1895. It has come to me that these may have been sold in conjunction with a Winchester promotion when they began to market new, second generation Model 1895 Winchesters.



Ebay 
The jagged branches are almost bizarre... more like nettle... the angry ranger!


Fanciful Creations
Ebay

the digital Ranger..

 Some of these are hilarious, as if they were described over the phone by International traders to some Chinese craftsmen who farmed the work out to Bedouin tinkerers. The elements are there... but something got lost in the translation.

Ebay

The Arabic Ranger!

Ebay

The lucky 7, SPECIAL AGENT Ranger.... Texas Ranger Hall of Fame says there were never any lawmen commissioned as Texas Ranger "SPECIAL AGENTS."


COOL looking Civil War-esque badge, but it NEVER happened...


These folks are clueless...


A gorgeous impostor. Nothing remotely authentic.

 That will do for starters.. you get the idea... and hopefully you won't waste as much time as I have trying to sort this all out.

And hopefully, if enough people wise up, we can end some of the deceptions and counterfeiting going on... a shameful and unnecessary legacy of these great relics of our heritage! 





I could not resist this last section I Call...

 "THE TEXAS RANGER BADGE HALL OF SHAME"


The artisans who made the following fetching replicas have every right to relish in their craftsmanship. But anybody who is fooled by them will be forever candidates for the Hall of Shame. Mainly because so far, these have been marketed as badges on Ebay with no provenance and questionable origins, using those pesky 1950's Cinco pesos... And most badge collectors would scoff at them...
So crude it is embarrassing. But this creation had that homemade look that is so appealing. Homemade is an understatement. Co. B is off-center, TEXAS RANGERS is scrawled on the bottom in a rushed, crammed style that morphs from block letters to italics!  This is probably a re-enactor's amateurish, custom made badge, and regardless of all the red flags, cleaned up among the wishful bidders, selling for $300.00! 

REMEMBER badges with "Dept of Public Safety" did not appear until the late 1930's. Most Rangers of that period, especially the 50's or 60's, would never have tolerated such sloppy craftsmanship. And check out the back...

It's a cinco peso... perhaps a real one, known as a large or "giant Hidalgo." Not a deal killer in itself, BUT it is a mid-fifties peso... Not likely, but remotely possible, that a young ranger might have had made for amusement and nostalgia.  But if he had he might have been embarrassed to wear this ! These coins were marked prominently with "CINCO PESO" which really grabs new collectors. But were only around 72% silver, and they were not the best choice used for making a badge... not even for pct. constables or game wardens. They tarnished more easily, and unless the owner buffed them often, they stank of cheap metal. Shame-shame!



This beautiful Company B is badge probably a fake or another re-enactor's pride and joy, and has obviously been fashioned by cpying the notorious, manufactured, bogus Company B ranger badge seen often on Internet auctions, which has no basis as a historical badge. (See below) The difference being the one above has been beautifully hand made... It is a work of art. (Sold for $316.00 and was almost worth it!) But it is not a relic of history, or of the Texas Rangers. Its reverse side provided plenty of clues...

Compare to this modern, mass produced fantasy badge.

ONCE AGAIN, a 72% silver Cinco Peso, from 1953. ONCE AGAIN,  rangers from this era would rarely if ever tolerate a badge that was probably going to immediately stain his pressed white shirt. By the time the words "Dept of Public Safety" were required, white or khaki shirts were the style, as were official, sanctioned departmental badges. No more outlaw designs, with very little individualism. The badge could have happened...  a gift by a well meaning person... but only after the prototype, a fairly modern (1980's?) fantasy badge was produced first... so it was probably never owned by a Texas Ranger...and if it was, it was not likely to have ever seen the light of day. This badge is another "Aberranger."



A very handsome, cleverly done replica of a historic badge... similar to ones known to be authentic. Once again, you have to inspect the reverse side...

A casting. NOT A REAL COIN.  The grainy texture on the "coin" is from the lost wax casting process. Note the puffy letters. The bent, misshapen edge. When the foundryman sandblasts the ceramic mold off of the object, he leaves tiny telltale sanding pits... which must be polished out to remove them... but not for the kind of money this fellow got for a bogus ranger badge... Still, an excellent job. Look for more of these.. better made, and harder to to tell. And ruthlessly shameless.

So, now I will get off of my high horse. Here are some badges that will defy confidence and skepticism... Sent by readers like you... except THEY GOT LUCKY!


At the very least, a magnificent fake... You make the call.

There are some that could be.. bought- even on ebay... actual authentic Texas Ranger Badges... and these are why we love the hunt... and never quit!

1889!

Yes, good badges do filter through... and bring good prices.

(No Peso)

This one sold on ebay for $1,250.00. Perhaps issued by the Ferguson regime or earlier, it has great similarity to another on display at the TRHF... and others...


Left; badge in online auction, Right: Badge at TRHF.      

One last word: I am told by one old badge collector, who claims to have worked for several law enforcement agencies and would know these things, That  IT IS AGAINST THE LAW TO SELL A TEXAS RANGER BADGE.  THE REASONING IS SIMPLE. THERE ARE NO "OBSOLETE" RANGER BADGES. ANY OLD BADGE MIGHT BE WORN BY A TEXAS RANGER TODAY, MAKING ALL OF THEM POTENTIALLY ACTIVE.

IF YOU OWN ONE, as far as I understand it, you can keep it, but you cannot legally sell it, to anyone but a Texas Ranger. So it is an asset with dubious commercial value.

THE ONLY PERSON THAT CAN LEGALLY PURCHASE SUCH AN ITEM IS A TEXAS RANGER. If you have one you want to sell, you have to go through the Rangers, and they might be able to help you find a buyer from within... this is how it was explained to me. I'm sure some get found, given, inherited, traded etc. and collectors have managed to snag a few by careful hunting and dodging, but this is not a game for most folks to play. 

Having been in the antique/collecting world all of my life, I have known dealers who tried to play with marketing authentic Ranger badges and saw their rare badges confiscated. Others have told me that they were luckier, and were just told to take the badges OFF the shelf- or else.

If you see a badge for sale out in the open, it is either a fake, with no value, or the dealer is either stupid or asking for trouble, or most likely both. And that is why I say this whole thing is bound to end in disappointment for most of you.

A reader has graciously forwarded this statement of Texas State Law:

Texas Government Code Sec. 411.017
UNAUTHORIZED ACTS INVOLVING
DEPARTMENT NAME, INSIGNIA, or DIVISION NAME



(a) A person commits an offense if, without the director's authorization, the person:
1.Manufactures, sells, or possesses a badge, identification card, or other item bearing a department insignia or an insignia deceptively similar to the department's;


2.Makes a copy or likeness of a badge, identification card, or department insignia, with intent to use or allow another to use the copy or likeness to produce an item bearing the department insignia or an insignia deceptively similar to the department's; or


3.Uses the term "Texas Department of Public Safety," "Department of Public Safety," "Texas Ranger," or "Texas Highway Patrol" in connection with an object, with the intent to create the appearance that the object belongs to or is being used by the department.
(b) In this section, "department insignia" means an insignia or design prescribed by the director [ of TDPS ] for use by officers and employees of the department in connection with their official activities.

An insignia is deceptively similar to the department's if it is not prescribed by the department but a reasonable person would presume that it was prescribed by the department.

(c) A district or county court, on application of the attorney general or of the district attorney or prosecuting attorney performing the duties of district attorney for the district in which the court is located, may enjoin a violation or threatened violation of this section on a showing that a violation has occurred or is likely to occur.

(d) It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution under this section that the object is used exclusively:


(1) for decorative purposes, maintained or preserved in a decorative state, and not offered for sale; or

(2) in an artistic or dramatic presentation, and before the use of the object the producer of the presentation notifies the director [TDPS] in writing of the intended use, the location where the use will occur, and the period during which the use will occur.

(e) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor, unless the object is shipped by United States mail or by any type of commercial carrier from a point outside the State of Texas to a point inside the state if the shipper or his agent has been sent notification by registered United States mail of this section prior to the shipment, in which event the offense is a felony of the third degree.



I'll leave it to you to interpret all of that, but I did highlight a few things for emphasis.


Now, can you tell the difference? Do you care anymore?

Try to buy or sell real Texas Ranger badges, and you will have to answer to these guys!
Around 70 Texas Rangers posing in the 1970's... and ironically maybe one badge in sight!

Good LUCK!

14 comments:

moriyah said...

Best article on TR badges and authenticity ever.
The TR Hall of Fame needs to hire this man and ditch their amateur 'experts'. This cowboy should be the go to guy for museums and auction houses.
He, alone, has put together so many disconnections as to make the TR Hall of Fame look like misinformation experts.
Go Russell.

Anonymous said...

I have a replica badge stamped on the reverse, "Allen Stamp and Seal Co. Kansas City". I'm waiting for a response from the Allen Company to see when it was produced. they are one of the oldest companies in Kansas City (1874).

Anonymous said...

I loved this article. But one thing to keep in mind...
My Father was a Texas Ranger from 1960 to 1961 when he was killed in the line of duty. This was during the "Blue Bottle Cap" badges that the Rangers HATED.
He was stationed in El Paso when he first became a Ranger, and being a traditionalist, he hopped over the border & had a street merchant make him a peso badge out of a 5 dollar peso. He thought it was great, although it's very crude looking.
But that didn't stop him from going home and putting the "Bottle Cap" badge in a drawer & pinning the peso badge on - and that's the badge he wore everyday & the badge he had pinned to his chest when he was killed.
Now you tell me - is that a REAL Texas Ranger badge? He had it made on his own - it looks very crude (being done by a street merchant) but it was commissioned by an honest-to-God Ranger & worn by him while on duty.
But without telling the "experts" who I am & where this badge came from - every single one has told me it's a fake.
So take heart...some of you may truly own a genuine badge - including the writer of this article.
You have to realize that my dad was not the only Ranger to go have their own badges made in the 50'6 & 60's. Lots (if not all) of them did.
The one REAL reason I would be suspicious of a Ranger peso badge is because the only people who would have one (that's less than a hundred years old) would either be the Ranger, or his family.
And you can take it from the son of a Ranger - there's no way in hell we'd ever sell it!
Now I suppose the odds are that some Ranger must have died with no relatives and his badge went out into the world as a collectors item. That's not only extremely possible, it's extremely likely. But there can't be the thousands that you see for sale on the internet. Hell, there's never been that many Rangers.
Happy Hunting.

Anonymous said...

Our family descends from some of the first Texas Rangers. Their graves were recently marked in a ceremony by the Texas Rangers to acknowledge their contributions as the first Texas Rangers (see Captain James Cunningham) - we have a Badge from the family and would never part with it. But I wonder the value for insurance purposes. Can anyone help with that? I'm not sure if it belonged to the Captain or one of his sons - it looks like the plain "original" badge. SCOTT7778@MSN.COM

Anonymous said...

In 1986 the Tom Keilman Auction House sold “the Raymond Brown Collection” In the collection were Frank Hamer were personal effects including badges, guns, and id’s, including letters from Mrs. Hamer and Frank Hamer, Jr.

Aimee johnson said...

Very interesting post and all the badges you have presented here are very unique. I have never seen such badges, keep updating.

Corporate Name Badges

Anonymous said...

Insurance tends to cover "The Cost Of Replacement"
And seeing as how you CAN'T replace a piece of Texas history like the badge you have, my advice would be to invest in a safe deposit box at your bank.

Wyatt Earp said...

Anonymous post on May 29, 2013 at 7:52 PM claims "My Father was a Texas Ranger from 1960 to 1961 when he was killed in the line of duty."

^^This (according to official records) is a false claim. There is ONLY ONE Texas Ranger death in, or near, that time frame and that death DOES NOT match the description provided by that particular anonymous poster. You can reference the information I have provided as follows.

http://www.odmp.org/officer/14079-ranger-homer-a-white
Ranger
Homer A. White
Texas Department of Public Safety - Texas Rangers, Texas

End of Watch: Friday, December 8, 1961

"Ranger Homer White and Polygraph Operator Oscar Brett were killed when the patrol car they were in was struck by a train while en route to a murder investigation."

"Ranger White had been with the agency for 5 years."

Why do I bring this to your attention?

First - I [honestly] found the "poster's" story interesting.

Second - I am related to [at least] two Texas Rangers. Richard Fowler who served with the Frontier Forces 1873. I also have an Uncle that is a retired Ranger out of Company "B", Brantley Foster. Foster is still living and is now the Director of the Former Texas Rangers foundation, among other obligations.

Third - I am a combat disabled, medically retired, military Veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. I had 10 years in, 4 years between Iraq and Afghanistan. I was injured outside of Balad, Iraq in 2005 during combat operations. I EARNED everything I have; so, it really gets my goat when people who have never served in the military TRY to claim stolen valor. People with NO legal claim TRY to claim. To me it is no different with the Texas Rangers and defending their heritage too, against stolen valor.

Lastly - I love to research Ranger history, at least as applicable to my genealogy. My family is [currently] in the process of researching other possible ties to TR history. Hopefully there are more; if not, I'm satisfied with what we have and am proud.

Your site is AWESOME and I will continue to return and browse. Thanks for your research, it's superb.

Thank you,
Tex Fowler

Anonymous said...

Just found your site, and in particular, the ranger badge article . I was lucky enough to acquire a real named badge about 13 years ago with a binder of provenance (including two certified DPS letters) to go along with it from a party who obtained it from the family decades before I obtained it. The coin it is made from is one of the 1900 era republic pesos. I was able to find an antique sterling silver watch chain & knife that it is attached to. Your site trumps the info on the ranger hall of fame web page by tons. Good job! Mike H., Green Bay, WI.

Anonymous said...

To Wyatt Earp:
It is my post that you called into question. Nice detective work - H.A. White WAS my father. (got the birth certificate to prove it)
I can only assume that you're confused because I said he was a Ranger for 1 year and yet his file says he was "With the agency for 5 years"
The agency in question is the "Texas Department of Public Safety" - of which the Texas Rangers are a branch.
He was with the D.P.S. for a total of 5 years - He was a Ranger for the very last one of those 5 years.
For the first 4 years he was a D.P.S. patrolman. (Highway Patrol - it's just not called that officially in Texas - it's called the D.P.S) Then he applied and tested for, and was accepted as, a Texas Ranger for his last year of service.

That's the very reason that the Rangers hated the "bottle Cap" badges mentioned in the article - they said "Department of Public Safety" on them. (and why he had his own Peso Badge made)

And in the hopes that it heads off further confusion - I was born in El Paso the year he was killed (so he was there to get the Peso Badge made in Mexico)- and we had just moved to a suburb of Houston just months before his death. (I was only 10 weeks old)

Like I said - nice detective work - but you should have dug deeper before you accused me of "Stealing Valor"

Russell Cushman said...

OK guys and gals- I am always tickled when anybody leaves a response... But PLEASE use this last entry to be reminded- these comments are made by real people and deserve the benefit of the doubt. Please withhold bitter or unfair judgments based on your own position of distrust. ATTACK ME, or anything you do not like about this blog, but please refrain from attacking my readers who graciously share what they know, or believe... because I will post it... and you will be forever the jerk who trashed an innocent person.

Besides, trashing well meaning folks is not a Ranger thing to do!

Mike Halasi said...

Excellant article. I was lucky enough to land my authentic ranger badge about 10 years ago from a firearms collector who had it for sale at a police collector's show. Along with it came a 3 ring binder with approximately 5 pages of provenance including certified and notarized letters from the Texas DPS signed by the ranger's family. I am very happy to have it in my collection and would not part with it.

Anonymous said...

I was lucky enough to have a Captain, Texas Rangers, as a father AND a Texas Ranger as a father-in-law. Both have since passed away and my husband and I have their badges. These badges are not only rare but are also cherished items we would never consider parting with as they are so closely linked to the memory we have of the Texas Rangers who wore them.

DAVID PARR said...

In 2000, the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, Texas offered for sale ($175) a real, issue Texas Ranger Badge, encased in Lucite as a fund raiser. They have never again made that offer. I made the mistake of not buying one at that time, but wrongly believed that they would continue to make this offer. I kick myself every time that I think about my mistake! davidparr4@sbcglobal.net David.