Cowan's sold this collection of legally acquired U.S. military dog tags in May 2008. Image courtesy of Cowan's Auctions Inc. and LiveAuctioneers archive.

90-year-old World War II vet receives long-lost dog tag

Cowan's sold this collection of U.S. military dog tags in May 2008. Image courtesy of Cowan's Auctions Inc. and LiveAuctioneers archive.

Cowan’s sold this collection of U.S. military dog tags in May 2008. Image courtesy of Cowan’s Auctions Inc. and LiveAuctioneers archive.

WASHINGTON, Mo. (AP) – The last time Sgt. Duthiel “Dutch” Borcherding, Washington, remembers having both of his dog tags with him was right after the B-24 Liberator bomber he was aboard crash landed in a Dutch farmer’s field Jan. 30, 1944, during World War II.

When he came home from Germany in 1945 after spending more than a year in various POW camps there, Borcherding only had one dog tag with him. He always wondered what happened to the other one.

He still doesn’t know exactly what happened to it, but now – more than 65 years after the war in Europe ended – he has it back.

Recently, a veteran from Steeleville, Ill., Steve Ebers, who serves as senior vice commander of the American Legion Post 480 there, drove to Washington to hand deliver Borcherding’s other dog tag to him.

He had displayed the tag in a small black velvet box alongside a miniature American flag.

Ebers said a member of Post 480, Raynold Eggemeyer, purchased Borcherding’s tag and some 90 others in 1996 when he found them at an auction. He brought them back to the Legion Hall in Steeleville, where they sat on a shelf for more than 10 years.

When Ebers became senior vice commander in 2007, the previous commander handed the tags over to him. Ebers didn’t know what to do with them, but he put them in alphabetical order and put them on display in a trophy case.

Last year, Ebers started thinking about the men behind the dog tags and decided to try locating the men and return the tags to them.

Ebers began at his computer, doing searches on the various names. After he came across information on three or four of the men that said they were prisoners of war, Ebers moved on to searching the National POW archive and things took off.

“It got real interesting, real quick,” he said. “They were all airmen and all POWs.”

As Ebers continued his research, he has found photographs online of the men and their crews, as well as books that reference many of the men by name.

He flipped open a copy of A Dying Breed to read a paragraph that mentions a Jewish soldier, whose tag Ebers had and returned. After their plane crashed, the entire crew decoded to remove their tags to protect their Jewish comrade whose tag had an “H” for Hebrew.

“They didn’t want the Nazis to find out he was Jewish, so they all took off their tags,” said Ebers.

Flipping open a briefcase with a POW-MIA emblem on it, Ebers pulled out a stack of file folders filled with information he’s found about the men whose dog tags he has already returned. Among the information are rubbings Ebers makes of each tag before he returns it.

“I know these dudes by name now,” said Ebers, smiling, as he flipped through his folders looking for a specific photo.

“The first month I was working on this, they were in my head so bad I would sit up in bed at night thinking about them.”

Finding Borcherding proved to be a challenge at first, said Ebers, noting his searches for D.L. Borcherding never returned any information. Then he turned to the phone book – as he’s done with some of the other veterans – and came across a Borcherding who told Ebers about a relative named Dutch.

“When I typed that in (the computer), everything popped up,” said Ebers, laughing. “I even found his wedding photo.”

When Ebers was finally able to get Dutch Borcherding on the phone, he read off the serial number on the tag to make sure he had the right person. “Is that your serial number?” he asked.

“Yes,” Borcherding responded, without hesitating.

It took several weeks for the two to make arrangements for Ebers to return the tag.

Borcherding’s tag makes No. 22 that Ebers has been able to return, however, all but one other tag has been given to relatives because the veteran had already died.

Borcherding’s tag is the first one that Ebers has hand-delivered to a veteran. All of the others were sent priority mail with delivery confirmation.

“I’ve used up all of the little jewelry boxes I can find,” said Ebers.

In return he has received numerous thank-you cards and even a ham from grateful families.

Sitting at the Borcherding’s dining room table, Ebers listened intently as Dutch and his wife, Delores, shared details about how his plane crash-landed in the Netherlands. Ebers showed the Borcherdings some of the photos he has collected, and the Borcherdings gave him a copy of a newspaper clipping telling about Borcherding’s crash landing.

Ebers still has more than 70 dog tags that he’s trying to return to the veterans or their families. When he laid the bunch on the table, Borcherding was fascinated by the sight of them.

“This is interesting,” he said.

Borcherding doesn’t remember if the Germans took one of his tags when they placed him in the POW camp, but he believes that is a likely explanation. How then it ended up for sale at an auction in Illinois is still unknown.

Ebers fears they will never know.

The dog tags were part of the private collection of items owned by a group known as the Pioneer Historical Society. All of the items in the collection, including the dog tags, were put up for sale when the last caretaker of the society died, said Ebers.

So there is no one to ask, and no records to check.

Borcherding, who turned 90 in February, still has the one dog tag that he brought home from Germany in 1945. Now that his pair of tags has been reunited, he doesn’t plan to do anything special with them, but he is glad to have it back.


Information from: Washington Missourian: <>

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-CS-07-30-10 0101EDT


Stolen Portinari painting recovered in Brazil

SAO PAULO (AP) – Police have recovered a painting by one of Brazil’s most famous painters two weeks after it was stolen from a museum.

Authorities say Candido Portinari’s O Enterro, or The Burial, was found with a suspect in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday.

It was taken from the Contemporary Art Museum in the northeastern city of Olinda earlier this month.

Police said in a statement they arrested a man who was in possession of the 1959 painting, which is worth about 1.5 million reals ($850,000).

The statement did not give details of the investigation, but Brazilian media reported that fingerprints at the crime scene helped police track down the suspect.

It is one of seven Portinari artworks at the museum.

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WS-08-01-10 0957EDT


Upgrades planned for former Kruse classic car auction park

AUBURN, Ind. (AP) – The new owner of a long-running classic car auction in northern Indiana has announced plans to finish $1.5 million in improvements to the facility before running its traditional Labor Day weekend sale for the first time.

Ontario-based RM Auctions bought the Kruse International auction park in Auburn this month and pledged to continue the early September sales that have drawn thousands of people for nearly 40 years. The auction park’s future had been threatened by former owner Dean Kruse’s financial troubles.

RM Auctions announced Thursday that its renovations for the auction park would include new asphalt for the parking lots and repairs and painting for the buildings on the 235-acre site.

The company said it already had nearly 500 cars lined up for auction and that the Sept. 2-5 event will have lower ticket prices. Among the cars committed to the auction are a 1932 Ford Five-Window Coupe and a 2008 Ferrari F430, with up to 1,500 collector cars expected to the sale.

Ed Cepuran, chief financial officer of Auctions America by RM, said the company expected a successful auction since it has received many “enthusiastic inquiries.” He said RM Auctions had set up bank accounts to assure quick payments to sellers _ a step that follows numerous complaints about payment delays by Kruse.

The new owner doesn’t have any official ties this year to the annual Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival in Auburn, although company spokeswoman Kerrey Kerr-Enskat said it would consider that in the future.

We’re all just busy, very, very busy. We can’t wait till Labor Day,” she said. “Failure is not an option, when we say we’re going to do something, we’re going to do it. And well.”

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-CS-07-30-10 1436EDT


A bow-shape pin and working watch that are enameled and set with diamonds sold for $863 at a Cottone auction in Geneseo, N.Y. It is marked "J. Laforge Besacon."

Kovels – Antiques & Collecting: Week of Aug. 2, 2010

A bow-shape pin and working watch that are enameled and set with diamonds sold for $863 at a Cottone auction in Geneseo, N.Y. It is marked "J. Laforge Besacon."

A bow-shape pin and working watch that are enameled and set with diamonds sold for $863 at a Cottone auction in Geneseo, N.Y. It is marked "J. Laforge Besacon."

First came the church-tower clock to help everyone in town know the time. Then in the 1500s, a watch on a chain or a ribbon was used by the very rich. By 1700, women could have a watch pinned to a dress as part of a chatelaine that held keys, scissors and other household tools. Later came the traveling clock, then the pocket watch. In the early 1900s, the first watches with a matching pin were made to wear on a lady’s lapel. In 1915 the lapel watch was improved — the watch face was upside down so the wearer could read it more easily. During World War I, the wristwatch was created for soldiers, and by the 1920s the wristwatch was the most popular timepiece to wear. Today, many have given up the wristwatch and rely on a cell phone to tell time. But attractive lapel watches — especially those with enamel finish and matching fleur-de-lis or bow pins — and wristwatches that look like gold or jeweled bracelets sell well. The very best of the brand name watches, like Rolex or Patek Philippe, and those with features that tell more than time sell for extremely high prices.

Q: Could you please tell me what the three-piece oak bedroom suite I bought in 1970 is worth? The pieces have pressed trim, wooden casters and beautiful hardware. Two marks are stenciled on the back. One says, “Fitted with Watson’s Improved Case Construction, Patented Dec. (illegible).” The other says, “Pioneer Furniture Company, Chamber Suits, Wardrobes, Chiffoniers, Eau Claire, Wisconsin.”

A: The Pioneer Furniture Co. once stood in what is now Phoenix Park in Eau Claire. The company made reproductions of old styles of bedroom suites. It was in business from at least the late 1800s until 1930, when a tornado destroyed much of the factory. The mark about Watson’s case construction relates to an 1896 patent granted to William H. Watson, also of Eau Claire. The patent was for a method of constructing case furniture that prevented damage by pests and dust. So, your bedroom set dates from after 1896. The value of the set depends on its quality, style and condition. It could be worth a few hundred dollars or more than $1,000.

Q: I have a tea set made by Camark Pottery. I’m trying to find some information about the company. Can you help?

A: Camark started out in 1926 as Camden Art Tile and Pottery Co. It was established on land donated by the Camden Chamber of Commerce in Camden, Ark. By the end of the year, the company name had been changed to “Camark,” a contraction of “Camden” and “Arkansas.” Production of hand-thrown pottery began in 1927. Vases, planters, figurines and other decorative objects were made. Cast and molded pottery was mass-produced beginning in 1933. Mary Daniel bought the company in the early 1960s. Production ended in 1983.

Q: I was involved in planning the 1998 centennial celebration for my hometown, Titonka, Iowa. One of the century-old souvenirs that turned up was a 6-inch glass hatchet with a clear handle and ruby blade. The glass is inscribed “Souvenir of Titonka.” We think the hatchet was made sometime during the first 10 years of Titonka’s founding. When we displayed the hatchet at our centennial antique exhibit, area residents started bringing in similar pieces that were souvenirs of other Midwestern towns. Can you tell us who made it, why it was used as a souvenir by various towns and what it’s worth?

A: Pressed-glass hatchets, a symbol of “taming” the West, were made as souvenirs for several American towns and celebrations around the turn of the 20th century. Some were made as souvenirs for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. Although other glassmakers may have been involved in manufacturing these hatchets, the majority of them were produced by the Libbey Glass Co., which moved from Cambridge, Mass., to Toledo, Ohio, in 1888. Souvenir glass hatchets like your city’s sell for about $20. Those from the World’s Fairs sell for more.

Tip: Cover the nose of your hammer with a piece of felt to protect the wall when you are putting up picture hooks. If the wall is smooth, some of the new stick-on hooks might work.

Terry Kovel answers as many questions as possible through the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names, addresses or e-mail addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of any photograph, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The volume of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, Auction Central News, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

Need more information about collectibles? Find it at, our website for collectors. Check prices there, too. More than 750,000 are listed, and viewing them is free. You can also sign up to read our weekly Kovels Komments. It includes the latest news, tips and questions and is delivered by e-mail, free, if you register. offers extra collector’s information and lists of publications, clubs, appraisers, auction houses, people who sell parts or repair antiques and much more. You can subscribe to Kovels on Antiques and Collectibles, our monthly newsletter filled with prices, facts and color photos. adds to the information in our newspaper column and helps you find useful sources needed by collectors.


Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

  • Louis Vuitton soft-sided fold-over garment bag, leather hardware straps, brass, zip-and-buckle closure, LV logo, 17 x 23 x 10 inches closed, $255.
  • J.D. Kestner & Co. child doll, No. 171, bisque socket head, blue sleep eyes, open mouth with upper teeth, blond mohair wig, white cotton lace gown, circa 1900, 16 inches, $260.
  • Fulper vase, mauve Wisteria glaze, curdled texture, marked, circa 1916, 9 3/4 inches, $410.
  • St. Louis Beef Canning Co. sign, lithographed paper, “Cooked Corned Beef,” image of man being served by black servant, red border, 14 3/4 x 12 x 11 inches, $770.
  • Goofy Walking Gardener toy, tin lithograph, pushing wheelbarrow, windup, Marx, 1948, original box, 8 1/2 inches, $860.
  • Plow plane, rosewood body and fence, boxwood arms, nuts and wedge, Lamb and Brownell, 1800s, $960.
  • Silver-plated napkin ring, applied fireman’s hat, Pairpoint Manufacturing Co., circa 1865, $1,555.
  • Pressed-glass nappy, electric blue, shallow, 31-point rim, 40-point star in base, hexagonal stem, dome base, New England, 1850-60, 5 3/4 x 7 inches, $2,645.
  • 1920 Indian bicycle, original brass electric headlight, Klaxton horn, brass tire pump, dark red, older restoration, $2,875.
  • Appliqued and embroidered bachelor’s quilt, 25 floral and geometric blocks, red dividers, made for John Glendy Stuart by his fiancee, Isabel Windsor, circa 1839, 99 x 97 inches, $6,435.

Kovels’ American Antiques, 1750-1900 by Ralph and Terry Kovel is the book that introduces you to the collected antiques from past centuries. Learn about American antiques, from art pottery and old advertising signs to rare silver. Written to help you recognize and evaluate the valuable items of Grandma’s day. Hundreds of color photographs, marks, makers, dates, factory histories and more. Chapters on pottery, glass, furniture, silver, advertising collectibles, prints, jewelry, pewter, tools and ephemera. An easy-to-use book with current information. Available at your bookstore; online at; by phone at 800-571-1555; or send $24.95 plus $4.95 postage to Kovels, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.

© 2010 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.