Santa Anna’s brass spur among missing historical artifacts

DALLAS – Police are investigating the possible theft of a box of historical artifacts, including a brass spur used by Mexican Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.

The box of 21 items was reported missing late last week from the Dallas Historical Society’s offices at the Hall of State in Fair Park.

Other missing artifacts are a silver Mexican Medal of Honor from 1836, a five-star collar insignia worn by Adm. Chester W. Nimitz at the Japanese surrender ceremony and a Bible belonging to one of Dallas’ first families.
The artifacts were grouped together in a box after an awards ceremony in mid-November.

“At the moment, we’re treating this as a theft,” police Detective W.B. Prettyman said. “They looked for the box quite diligently and haven’t found it.”

David Rago, a New Jersey-based antiquities dealer, said it would be difficult for a thief to profit from the items because they require documentation to prove their value.

“I can’t imagine any of that stuff would be easy to sell,” he said. “An old brass dress spur by itself isn’t worth a lot of money, unless you know it came from Santa Anna. It’s the story that makes it valuable.”

He said anyone who purchased the items would have a hard time reselling them.

Executive Director Michael Duty said the Historical Society has put out the word that the spur is missing.

“Even if they had documentation that the spur belonged to Santa Anna, that would make it even more difficult to sell,” Duty said.

Sandra Palomino of Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas said antiquities dealers must always be aware that the artifacts they’re handling may have been stolen. The business polices itself, making it difficult to resell suspicious items, she said.

“It’s a small community, and there’s the Internet,” she said. “People are going to know about it.”

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