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Rusty Greaves

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About Rusty Greaves

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    archaeology, anthropology, behavioral ecology, history, music, beer

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  1. Venezuela - Cross of the Army

    I recently saw an alleged Venezuelan Cruz del Ejercito full-sized medal advertised on eBay for $1800 (https://www.ebay.com/itm/18K-Yellow-Gold-Red-Enamel-Cross-of-the-Army-of-Venezuela-First-Class-/232194657943?_trksid=p2141725.m3641.l6368) that seems to have some anomalous aspects of the legends' lettering compared with most examples I have seen on other websites. The piece appears to be in excellent condition, if original. The medal is identified as 18 K gold, weight=37.4 g; with a diameter of 2 1/4 inches excluding the suspension loop. Other probably genuine examples measure 55 mm (~2 14 inches) in diameter and are identified as weighing 38.2 g (on a medal missing the suspension loop). The motto "HONOR AL MERiTO" on the obverse is in very tall relief (contrast images below with photo 3 in my post of 29 November, 2017). The form of these letters also is different from those in the detail photo above and all other examples I have seen images of on other websites. The reverse legend "CRUZ DEL EJERCIT0" also is in higher relief and uses a similarly different lettering style than other examples. Additionally the configuration of the legend is unusual. Rather than having dots bracketing each end of the word "VENEZOLANO", the word follows "...EJERCITO" with no separation; the motto orientation is different - "VENEZOLANO" is not at the bottom; and there is an asterisk-like shape at the end of "VENEZOLANO" and before the word "CRUZ". This asterisk is in the central bottom portion of the legend design. None of these elements appear in other examples or on variants with the motto "FUERZAS TERRESTRES VENEZOLANAS". Also compare this reverse legend to those in the third photo of my 29 November 2017 post. I don't know if these anomalies suggest a different manufacturer than most genuine examples or if it might be a recent make that is not original. Any thoughts chamos? Image from eBay of medal offered for $1,800. Note that the "HONOR AL MERITO" on the obverse is in very tall relief compared with other examples, and the form of the lettering is different. Lateral image of the eBay medal showing better the high relief of the motto "HONOR AL MERITO" on the obverse. The reverse of the eBay example showing anomalous aspects of the legend motto as described above and the position of the unusual asterisk mark at the bottom of the reverse legend. Lateral image of the reverse of the eBay medal showing better the high relief of the motto "CRUZ DEL EJERCIT0 VENEZOLANO".
  2. I have been checking some auction images and the Condecoraciones de Venezuela website to try and glean some additional information relevant to better identfiying some aspects of the miniatures of the Venezuelan Orden del Libertador. While descriptions of the design changes are somewhat available for full-sized awards, there is almost no information about those related to miniatures. The Medal-Medaille website states there are at least 7 variants in the designs of the full-sized awards. Concedoraciones de Venezuela lists 9 separate decrees governing the designs from the initial institution of the award from April 1854 through April 2010. From 1854 through April 1881 there was only one class of the order. Given the minimal standardization, this does not necessarily mean only one design was made for genuine examples. From May 1881-April 2010 there were 5 classes of the Order. From 13 June, 1922 to 29 June, 2006 these grades were given official names, and a higher class named Collar (which is a collar not a medal) that was instituted as an award apparently exclusively for the head of the order (the Venezuelan President) and some other foreign heads of state: highest=Collar; 1st=Gran Cordon; 2nd=Gran Oficial (from 29 June, 2006 to 6 April, 2010 this class was called Magistrado/"Magistrate"; 3rd=Comendador (Commander); 4th=Oficial; 5th=Caballero (Knight). In April 2010 the Order was reduced to 3 classes other than the retention of the highest version = Collar: 1st=Espada (Sword); 2nd =Lanza (Lance); & 3rd Flecha (Arrow). Manufacturers through time included Lemaire, Paris; Godet & Sohn, Berlin; Russell Uniform Co. New York; Garthmann, Caracas (Venezuela); as well as other possible French, German, and Venezuelan manufactures. Likely, there are a great number of design differences in the full-sized medals. In addition to variation in the direction that Bolivar faces on the bust, some show him with his hand tucked inside his jacket (Napoleon style) and others show no arm. It appears that the 3rd-4th, & 5th classes of the Order used the coat of arms of Venezuela as the central obverse image on the star shaped badge, rather than the bust of Simon Bolivar that appears on the 1st & 2nd classes. The use of gold appears to be associated with the 1st Class versions (and some of the 2nd class versions?) of this order, the bust of Bolivar being gold while the rays of the star are usually silver. After 1922, there appears to be a star of open gold work rays (as seen on the miniatures illustrated above in this thread) surrounding the bust of Bolivar on top of the silver star. Although I have not yet found any clear information about miniature designs, it seems likely that the gold examples in the first post of this thread and on the example from my post of Jan 11 may represent the 1st (or 2nd classes?) only of this miniature. The coat of arms is the reverse design on some full-sized pieces (1st & 2n classes?), and the miniature in my Jan 11 example also has the coat of arms on the reverse. This (the coat of arms) also is the obverse design on full-sized awards for the 3rd, 4th, and 5th classes of the Order. The dimensions of the example illustrated on Jan 11 are not given, but measurements of other miniatures on this same chain indicate it is probably <20 mm in vertical height, matching other illustrations that do provide measurements. The miniatures are most likely ~19 mm in vertical dimension by ~15 mm wide. The full-sized neck star insignia are smaller than the chest badges (~70 X 80 moon pre-1922 badges, slightly larger on the 3 post-June 1922 design configuration changes), but the neck stars of the 3rd-4th classes that are ~25-28 mm in diameter, and 30 mm in diameter for the 5th class awards. I'm unsure whether the two forms of the miniatures in the first illustrations below suggest different minis for the 1st and 2nd classes or why there might be these two forms, the auction house description is unclear on this point. Obviously there is still quite a lot of variation in the full-sized awards that is not easy to sort out, and even more so in miniatures. Obverse (above) and reverse (below images of Venezuelan Orden de Libertador miniatures. This is part of a group of miniatures from several countries mounted on a gold chain, identified as dating to ~1905. These 2 medals are identified by eMedals as the Grand Cross (1st class) miniatures consisting of the "Grand Cross and Star". No dimensions are provided, but those for other miniature medals on this chain suggests ~19 mm maximum vertical height. All miniatures in this grouping are identified as being made by made by Godet & Sohn, Berlin. The Auction listing incorrectly identifies these as Bolivian, not Venezuelan, medals. No materials are identified, but the rays of the medal and the bust of Bolivar appear to be silver, rather than gold as on most of the full-sized insignia (in addition to the enamel in the decorative legend surrounding Bolivar's bust). (https://www.emedals.com/a-fine-miniature-group-of-eight-by-godet-sohn-berlin) Obverse & reverse images of a miniature of the Venezuelan Orden del Libertador (3rd, 4th, or 5th Class) from Medal-Medaille.com website made of "silver thirty-two-pointed rayed faceted star, with loop for ribbon suspension; the face an oval escutcheon imposed bearing the arms of Venezuela; the reverse plain; height 19 mm (0.75 inch), width 15.2 mm (0.6 inch); on replaced correct ribbon." This example example is identified as the manufacture of De Greef of Brussels, Belgium and dates from the mid-20th Century. The use of the coat of arms of Venezuela as the obverse design indicates that this miniature represents the 3rd, 4th or 5th class of this Order. (http://www.medal-medaille.com/sold/product_info.php?cPath=499_423&products_id=4588) The same miniature of the Venezuelan Orden del Liberator (3rd, 4th, or 5th Class) from Medal-Medaille.com on its replacement ribbon (http://www.medal-medaille.com/sold/product_info.php?cPath=499_423&products_id=4588)
  3. South American bow and arrows

    Your point about monkey tracking is interesting from the perspective of animal conservation. The folks I work with do not hunt monkeys, simply because there are none in the savanna. Some anthropologists have recorded that as a "taboo", which in my experience is just a silly anthropology term that means the anthropologist has no idea and probably never learned to speak the languages so they can't understand an explanation about why they don't hunt them. Adjacent populations along the major rivers do because there are gallery forests there. Colleagues of mine working in the Manu Biosphere Reserve in the Peruvian Amazon who also did long-term fieldwork looked at conservation issues related to hunting. Populations of Machiguenga and Piro Indians within the park are prohibited from using shotguns, deemed "non-traditional" technology. Groups of the same Indians living outside of Manu do use shotguns. When shotgun using groups of men encounter monkeys, the inquisitive males descend slightly when they see these potential predators, and "blam" they are killed and the hunters go home. Within the park, the use of bows & arrows almost always results in missed shots in the first encounter with monkeys in the canopy. The Indians run shooting (and often losing arrows) through the forest until they are able to tire the stragglers, whom they are then able to kill. Who is slow in those troops? Females encumbered with young. Monkeys have long and slow reproduction, and one prime conservation goal in the Biosphere Reserve is to encourage the recovery of all primate populations. From a conservation perspective, what would be most sensible is to allow park inhabitants to use shotguns and preferentially kill males. Try telling that to conservation biologists and park administrators in contrast to their ideas about "traditional" hunting practices and there idea all of that is "naturally conservationist". Under past conditions of fewer people (especially outsiders) in the region, Indians could move to new areas when they start to exhaust the resources. That is no longer an option for them with encroachment on all their territories, and over-exploitation is the consequence here, and in many parts of the world.
  4. Below are two images of a miniature of the Orden del Liberator resembling the example on the left in the original post in this thread, from a group of nine miniatures from various countries all strung on a gold chain sold by eMedals. It is identified as made of gold and enamel and is suggested to date to ~ 1910 (or earlier?). https://www.emedals.com/a-early-20th-century-french-gold-miniature-group-of-nine-eu6113
  5. South American bow and arrows

    Here is an image of an older Savanna Pumé man making a fishing arrow. Photo of a ~65 year old Savanna Pumé man in the Venezuelan llanos making a fishing arrow in a dry season camp of 2006. In front of him are two pieces of firewood providing heat to soften the tree resin (used to bind the point into the foreshaft, the foreshaft into the mainshaft, and any fletching and nock construction), which is a thick black stick resting against the furthest piece of firewood. The fine, white bromeliad fiber used for the windings is seen just to the viewer's right of his left knee. These are a few strands pulled from a larger hank of fiber that he will use as one set of bindings, and a thicker group of fibers further to the right, that will be split out into several strand groupings to twist into a strong thread he will pull across the tree resin to make it sticky so it adheres as winding. The tree resin is heated and used to coat those windings. He is crushing the windings and coating them with resin with 2 small pieces of arrowcane held in his left hand while he rolls the arrow on his thigh with his other hand. Note that the nock for the arrow is not yet made and it is unfletched. Many fishing arrows do not have fletching as they are shot from a short distance from a fishing platform <2 m above the fish and there is no need to stabilize such short flight. Many of these unfletched arrows will later be fletched to use during the wet season when they are employed as small game arrows.
  6. South American bow and arrows

    Although this is an older thread, I am happy to see something about South American bows & arrows, a topic very important to my research interests and related to collections I have donated to museums in the US and Venezuela. Almost all South American bows & arrows are quite long, up to 2 m is quite common. The lanceolate arrowpoints are for large terrestrial game, most commonly peccaries. Even today most of these are made of wood or a species of New World bamboo (probably what these were made from) rather than steel because it is not uncommon to lose the quarry, and the arrow. Metal can be scarce, and arrows that are commonly lost are still made of more replaceable materials. The barbed hardwood point (probably a species of palm heartwood) are used for monkeys. Monkeys will try to remove the arrows, and this is why they have multiple backward directed barbs, to make that difficult and to make a more grievous wound as they worry the arrow. Often folks will cut a slightly deeper notch a short distance from the most distal barbs so that they break off in the animal as they try to get them out of their bodies. These long points can be recovered and are re-trimmed to sharpen the point and continue using them until the foreshaft is too short. A new point is then inserted into the cultivated arrowcane. The use of what appears to be native cotton windings suggests these were made by agricultural populations, who also probably grew the arrowcanes themselves. The monkey arrows and peccary arrows indicate these were from a tropical rainforest group. None of these would likely have employed curare, that is almost exclusively used for blowgun darts which are delicate and quiet poison delivery systems for arboreal game. The muscle relaxation of curare not only suffocates the animal by relaxing the diaphragm, but also prevents monkeys' tails from remaining coiled around branches as they die, so that they can be recovered after they drop to the ground. The 2 arrows on the far right of the 2nd image have sharpened hardwood foreshaft points that were probably for birds. Bird arrows with blunt and expanded ends are common for stunning birds who are hunted for their feathers in order to minimize damage and blood staining of their plumage. The arrow 3rd from the right on this image exhibits a broken foreshaft, possibly another example of a pointed bird arrow or for a lanceolate point. These 3 wooden arrows are unlikely to be for bow & arrow fishing as these normally have at least one barb to prevent fish from slipping off of such smooth points. The illustrations below are arrowpoints from my fieldwork with Savanna Pumé hunters & gatherers living the open neotropical savannas in west-central Venezuela that are part of the Orinoco Plains (llanos). These examples are among the dozens I have donated to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology as part of a collection of over 1,300 artifacts from my research. This shows most of the currently used arrow forms employed by the Savanna Pumé. From top to bottom, it shows: a cold hammered steel nail point that is squared to produce a wound that tears rather than a round hole which will seal up a bit (as known in forensics that an ice pick wound does nor do as much damages as a screwdriver), this point is used for small terrestrial game such as armadillos, lizards, or rabbits, and some birds, it has a small proximal barb visible at the right where the windings end; a fishing arrow also made from a steel nail that is heated, hammered to shape, and then cut to produce the distal barb, a proximal barb is barely visible as well; a heated, hammered, and shaped lanceolate point made from worn-out machetes or other steel tools for terrestrial game such as the tamandua anteater, the great anteater, deer, or other much more rarely captured animals such as peccaries or tapirs. I have been on defensive war pray trips in response to seeing prowling strangers near the dry season camps where men nocked two of these kinds of arrows on their bows and stationed themselves away from the edge of camp. Considering the likely intruders were FARC guerrillas armed with automatic weapons, these parties only expected to provide time for the rest of the community to escape, not to defeat these folks who sometimes travelled deep into Venezuela during the dry season when long-distance foot travel was practical for non-indigenous folks; a wooden point for hunting birds; and a caiman harpoon arrow that has a detachable point and line to allow the animal some play before being dispatched. The cord is made from moriche palm leaf fiber. Scale in cm. An illustration of the individual Savanna Pumé arrowpoints and their foreshafts, which are inserted into the long arrowcane mainshaft. From top to bottom: the squared small game point; the distally barbed fishing point; the foreshaft showing a slot (not cut through the entire foreshaft) for fitting the above two point styles into; an example of the small game point seated in the foreshaft with a tree resin and wrapped in windings made from the leaf fibers of a wild pineapple relative; the same kind of foreshaft assembly with final coating of tree resin & charcoal, and a coating of resin more proximally to assist with adherence in the mainshaft; a heated and hammered steel lanceolate point for large game; the typical short foreshaft for lanceolate points showing the double tongued carving of its slot. Scale in cm. Fletching of the Savanna Pumé arrows. From top to bottom: the radial fletching of a lanceolate point, radial fletching is made from a feather split in half through the vein and attached as 4 pieces of fletching around the proximal end of the arrow, as are modern competition arrows, providing the best flight characteristics; an example of tangential fletching for a small game or fishing arrow where a piece of intact feather is simply laid againts each of 2 sides side of the arrow, this example has striping of tree resin that identifies the arrow maker; another example of tangential fletching without any markings. All windings and the nock are made from tree resin and the wild bromeliad fiber shown used for foreshafts above in the 2nd photo, then coated with resin and charcoal and smoothed by hand with face oil. Scale in cm. An example of a Savanna Pumé caiman harpoon point and cordage set for a variant where the point is seated on a long pole used instead of an arrow, for larger and more dangerous caimans. The cordage is moriche palm leaf fiber, the steel point was made by hearing in fire and hammering to shape, the barb cut with an axe edge, and attached to the cordage with tree resin and wild bromeliad fiber. Scale in cm.
  7. scrimshaw

    While scrimshaw is best know for the lovely decorated sperm whale teeth, all art on whalebone, ivory, or other on-board materials can certainly be considered scrimshaw.
  8. scrimshaw

    The surface texture in the 3rd photo of your July 22, 2016 post certainly looks like bone. I did a moderate amount of scrimshaw as a kid, visited collections, and have done lot of work with bone in my adult archaeological work. Some whalebone was used to manufacture a range of everyday items (clothespins, swifts for winding wool, knife handles, etc) by scrimshandering whalers, but the density is quite different from the bone of terrestrial animals. Whale ivory (this would be too broad for walrus ivory) would be much denser and smooth, while the subcortical bone of land animals will exhibit the kinds of textures seen in that 3rd image. Plaque shapes such as this example would be quite unusual to cut from whale ivory. The thinness of the bone in the 4th image and the display image of October 6 also suggests it also from a terrestrial animal. My suspicion is beef bone, probably the humerus (upper forelimb) that has a broad area at the proximal (near the body) end.
  9. Egyptian ancient art anyone

    I am an archaeologist, and please keep in mind that antiquity laws in some countries do prohibit trade in some authentic artifacts if their provenience suggests they have been obtained illegally from excavations, and are not from older private collections that predate the establishment of any such laws. This can pertain to the import of such items into Europe, Asia, and the New World, as well as the export from countries that protect their antiquities. There is a brisk trade in modern fake ushabti, they are very easy to manufacture from modern or even ancient molds. It is uncommon for collectors to be prosecuted for small items, but the trade in antiquities certainly fuels larger scale destruction of archaeological sites. IS has used the sale of antiquities from looted museums and archaeological sites as a source of its revenue to support their insurgency. It is difficult to evaluate an item without physical examination. Although I am not an Egyptologist, I maintain an interest in ancient Egyptian archaeology. This item has a few peculiar aspects: the body proportions are uncommonly "lumpy", heavy in the butt and feet (in lateral view) that is uncommon in ushabti from pre-Greek periods. The size of the lips in both the profile and especially the lateral view seem suspect, and the facial form is a bit odd. It could be a late Greek period example (artisans approximated ancient styles with variable success at this time), or an inexpensive ushabti (ushabti are essentially folks who will do the work for the dead in the afterlife, and were purchased by those who could afford to hope for an eternity without work after death) that a less affluent, but still well-to-do, ancient Egyptian could get for their tomb furnishings. I would say there is a 75% chance this is a modern market item and not an ancient example.
  10. The Condecoraciones de Venezuela website also states that there was some variation in the forms of the full-sized awards for the Orden del Liberator, because of the number of different manufacturers. The website states that the 1922 decree especially specified in detail the designs needed for standardizing the forms of the 1st, 2nd, & 3rd class versions of the Order that had been subject to a large number of differences in their design interpretation by each manufacturer. This situation is likely to have been even more variable among miniatures (certainly evident in the examples from your collection), sometimes manufactured by other companies than those making the full-sized insignia. You might wish to check out a thread titled "Miniatures of the Middle East & Arab World" that was started by Owain (oamatme) on 6 December, 2017 under the "Middle East & Arab States" section of this "Rest of the World: Medals & Militaria" Forum discussing miniatures, although it is for a different area. He, and some of the contributors, especially 922F, are much more knowledgeable than I will ever be about variation in miniatures. Owain started his thread in response to a couple questions I had about miniatures starting on 5 December, 2017 on a thread I began about the Egyptian Order of Ismail ("Question about the Order of Ismail/Nishan al-Ismail", started on 7 November, 2017, under Middle East & Arab States) and responses from Owain and 922F. Some of their insights are likely relevant to understanding the variation in your items.
  11. I am traveling, but a quick survey of the Spanish language site Condecoraciones de Venezuela (http://condecoracionesdevenezuela.com/civiles-nacionales-orden-del-libertador/) suggests that the bust of Bolivar faces to the left is a pre-1922 versions of all classes of this order while post 1922 versions have Bolivar facing to the right.
  12. Miniatures of the Middle East & Arab World

    Thanks for illustrating the reverse of the Khedive era miniatures and the the Republic awards. The reverse of the Order of Ismail miniature does show better the horizontal bar on the suspension element below the crown that is distinct from the examples I have illustrated on 6 December and yesterday. Are you excited by the return of commercial cinemas in the coming year?
  13. Miniatures of the Middle East & Arab World

    This is an illustration of the only other probably authentic miniature example I have found a photo of on the internet. Probable authentic miniature of the Order of Ismail, Class unknown. This example shows a different form of the attachment between the body of the badge and the Khedive crown for suspension from the first miniature I illustrated on 6 December. I enlarged the image of Owain's example in the miniature group shown above today, and that also appears to show a slight variation from this example in the configuration the crown support. Just trying to document some of the variations among authentic examples of the miniature for this order. Owain, is yours slightly different from this one and is there any maker's mark on your example? (https://www.flickr.com/photos/kelisli/3052094604)
  14. Miniatures of the Middle East & Arab World

    Owain, thanks for illustrating these miniatures. I am interested to see your example of the Order of Ismail with the Khedive crown showing a slightly variant form in its attachment to the body of the miniature badge than the example I illustrated at the top of my 6 December post. Is the dark spot on the ribbon wear/staining or do you think there may have been a device attached to identify the class of the Order for this miniature?
  15. Help with Egyptian Khedive medal

    I still hope that someone may have some information they are willing to pass along about Massonnet Edit, I'm also making some inquiries among some specifically numismatic information groups, but wanted to post a good images of the obverse & reverse of this image I recently came across. The photos probably have been edited with a graphics program, but it is a high-resolution image with good details of this medal. Image of the obverse & reverse of the Abbas Hilmi II table medal commemorating his coronation and return from the Hegaz. This image is from an auction listing of 12 October, 2015 through La Galerie Numismatique, lot 182. In the catalogue it is misidentified as "Fouad I King of Egypt and Sudan Medal for Sultan Hassan Hassan Mosque" c 1922. This site also identifies the lower left obverse inscription of "Massonnet Edit." The starting price (300 EUR) and realized price (600 EUR) for this medal seem low by comparison with other Abbas Hilmi II medals on website auction sites, this may partly be due to the mis-attribution of this medal and not realizing its possible value or scarcity. (https://www.sixbid.com/browse.html?auction=2277&category=45886&lot=1928365). I have also recently found the eBay listing of one of these medals that I referred to on 25 March, 2017 archived through the Worthpont.com website (https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/egypt-gilded-bronze-medal-b29-115277729). The images of the obverse & reverse are low-resolution, but the eBay listing does also note the "Massonnet Edit" signature, identifying it as belonging to a "famous 19th century French engraver". The listing for the medal includes minimal information, the seller stated they did not know much about the medal, and the 22, July 2010 auction sale price reflects that - $76 (how I wish I had been doing this research in 2010!).