Looking for Russell Cushman art ?: http://russellcushmanart.blogspot.com/

Looking for BLUES HISTORY?


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

GETTING WARMER: The search continues for Hamer's badge

Several years ago I blogged about my search for Ranger Frank Hamer's marshal badge... I am almost convinced now that he just wore his Texas Ranger badge while serving as city marshal of Navasota. Just twenty-four at the time, and the target of skepticism and even retribution, he might easily have found comfort wearing the badge which gave him legal and lethal authority along the Texas border country. The city Council was not likely to have had a badge especially made for him, as he was not expected to last very long, and perhaps even to go down in shame like several of the previous marshals. So he might easily have just worn something far preferable, something he already owned... the most easily identifiable law enforcement icon in the world. But which badge was it?
 Marshal Frank Hamer

No pictures have been discovered which might shed light on this question, and to add to the mystery, his son sold off most of his personal possessions to Raymond Brown who in turn liquidated them at a Tom Keilman & Son auction in 1986, including the materials Captain Hamer had saved from his service in Navasota.. Sold were his guns,

 gun leather,

his Stetson hat, even his spurs... (and 602 above: Clyde Barrow's Colt auto)

  his certificates, his badges,

Hamer's famous Colt six-shooter he called "Old Lucky"...

AND in the pile was his first Ranger badge, what was purported to be a brass "handmade" badge...
Take Note: there were arc-like gouges facing each other on each side of the circle, almost hidden by the wreath engravings.
I have made a big deal about this badge for several reasons. Besides the fact that it was authenticated by Frank Hamer Jr., also a Texas Ranger, it possibly introduced/ established an entire different genre of Ranger badges during the turn of the century, previously unknown. Frank Jr. guessed the badge was in use around 1909-1913, or right after his father returned to Ranger service... but that would have been around 1915, as Frank Hamer Sr. was working in Navasota or Houston or the Hill Country as a cattle detective during the years (1908-1915) he suggested... Perhaps this was not the only history that Frank Jr. was a little fuzzy about...

This design, authenticated as "handmade" but at least partially machine-made, of bronze or brass, seems to have been related to a whole generation of "fake" badges which were presumed to have been totally without a basis in history. Still, they sport the EXACT FONTS and curly-cues. AND some strange yet persistent arcs on either side of the circle.

The latest being the pewter toy badges celebrated and reproduced from the most recent Lone Ranger movie.  (above)

Military style cartridge belt buckle of thin, pressed brass, thought by some to have been made by U.S. Government contractor Anson Mills. (And marked accordingly, and  PATENTED FEB 1, 1881) Anson Mills, a former Union General, based his operations in EL PASO, TX. The origin of this design???

Over the years I have seen and purchased the same or related design on a solid cast copper badge, a solid cast brass badge, and an "Anson Mills" cartridge belt buckle (above). The S scroll design work is unmistakably the same on several of the badges. And now a solid-cast silver badge...

This appears to be a painstakingly-made replica of Frank Hamer's earliest Texas Ranger badge. It is a whopping 2 inches in diameter. Note: the quarter inch arc-like gouges on each side of the circle, almost obscured by the wreaths, which show up over and over in less ornate versions. Question: Why would a forger replicate such a detail ???

Supposedly found in a jewelry box from an "old estate" and sold to me by an Ebay dealer... No one seems to know where it came from or whether it is authentic. Either way, it will go great in our Frank Hamer display at Blues Alley. I believe you are looking at the best facsimile of Marshal Frank Hamer's badge... no doubt handmade and faithful to the Brown Collection badge. It might even be from the period, and a brother to Hamer's first Ranger badge. We will never know.

No comments: