🔎 UNIDENTIFIED What mark is on this button?

Detector mom

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Found a sweet spot in the woods to detect on a beautiful day before winter hits here in NJ. Got me this button—think it’s brass (heavy). Cannot make out the marking but it looks like an anchor and maybe a letter?? I’ve found lots of tombacs in this area and a range of dates for other finds.
 

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TheCannonballGuy

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There's no anchor on your button's front. Your second photo (as posted) shows the correct orientation. I see four intertwined letters, which are written in a font that was popular from the 1880s into the first 10 years of the 1900s. I see a letter I atop a T atop an S atop an R. Note that the R is the smallest letter, the S is second-largest, and the I is largest of the four letters.

Often, though of course not always, when you see a button with an intertwined monogram which includes an S, that S stands for School. Similarly, letter I often stands for Institute. An R often stands for Regiment -- or Railroad. So, my "best guess" is that you've found either a School/University button, or a Railroad button, although it could be a County/City Militia Regiment button. I say "best guess" because I searched through all the Schools/Universities buttons, and Unknown/Unidentified buttons in the Albert book, and did not find a match. Being weary at that point, I did not search through every state's County/City Militia buttons... so that's your job.
 
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Detector mom

Detector mom

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There's no anchor on your button's front. Your second photo (as posted) shows the correct orientation. I see four intertwined letters, which are written in a font that was popular from the 1880s into the first 10 years of the 1900s. I see a letter I atop a T atop and S atop an R. Note that the R is the smallest letter, the S is second-largest, and the I is largest of the four letters.

Often, though of course not always, when you see a button with an interwined monogram which includes an S, that S stands for School. Similarly, letter I often stands for Institute. An R often stands for Regiment -- or Railroad. So, my "best guess" is that you've found either a School/University button, or a Railroad button, although it could be a County/City Militia Regiment button. I say "best guess" because I searched through all the Schools/Universities buttons, and Unknown/Unidentified buttons in the Albert book, and did not find a match. Being weary at that point, I did not search through every state's County/City Militia buttons... so that's your job.
Wow. That’s a thorough and very quick analysis! What is the Albert book? Also I’m attaching a pic of another button I found in my front yard not far from where I found this. It is clearly an anchor but the back says “SA French New York.” He was a button maker starting in the 1850s so it can’t be War of 1812. Could it be civil war or maybe not war at all??
 

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TheCannonballGuy

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"The Albert book" is the shorthand name that button-collectors and relic hunters use for the book titled "Record of American Uniform and Historical Buttons -- Bicentennial Edition" (with Supplement) by Alphaeus H. Albert.

Your second button has what is called a "fouled anchor" emblem... fouled meaning it has a rope intwined around the anchor. Your find is, fortunately, NOT a common 20th-Century "Nautical-Motif" Fashion button. Nor is it an official US Navy button, nor a British Royal Navy button. However, the British Merchant Marine service uses a fouled-anchor emblem. Note, actual US and British Navy 2-piece buttons which show a fouled-anchor (such as a US Navy Chief Petty Officer button) tend to have the emblem encircled by what button-collectors call a "rope border."

Your second button's backmark saying "SA French New York" means it is what button-collectors call a brass 2-piece button, meaning, it is hollow, consisting of a sheetbrass front crimped over a disc-shaped back. (The loop is not counted as a "piece.")

The best book on time-dating American metal buttons by their backmark is "American Military Button Makers and Dealers; Their Backmarks & Dates" by McGuinn & Bazelon. That book's entry for SA French New York says the firm dates from 1896 "to at least 1928."
 
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Detector mom

Detector mom

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I have VanCourt's Transit Transportation Uniform Buttons book so I decided to skim through the New Jersey / New York plates based on your location and it was there! Staten Island Rapid Transit Railway.
Very cool! Makes sense as, right near that button I found the one below, which clearly (tho not so much in this blurry pic!) says “conductor” and is from 1920.
 

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Radon

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There ought to be an award for best "What is it" identifications! I am amazed by the breadth of knowledge on this board.
 
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