Civil War Archive, ca. 1863
Appraised Value: $9,500
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (3:01)
Arms & Militaria
J. Christopher Mitchell American Antiques & Militaria
APPRAISER: Tell me about the ancestor that originally owned these things.
GUEST: Uh, his name is Fernando F. Robbins. He's from New York state, and he was a member of the 8th New York Heavy Artillery during the Civil War.
APPRAISER: And what do you know about some of the items that belong to him?
GUEST: Um, he has a couple of diaries that he kept during the war. He was confined in three Confederate prisons, and so there's some artifacts that were carved by him and the rebel banner as well.
APPRAISER: Okay, and in these diaries, do they mention his time in the prisons?
GUEST: Yeah, it does. It tells about certain days and everything that he kind of suffered through in those prisons.
APPRAISER: It's a nice archive of the life of a gentleman who spent quite a bit of time in prison, it would appear. These are individual artifacts that belong to him personally. This is what we call a "housewife." You would keep your sewing needle, your darn, it's a way to take care of your uniform and your appearance. And if we look on the top, it has Fernando Robbins' name. It's actually in nice shape. As you can imagine, normally, these would start to fall apart. Here we have a little stencil that belonged to him, and he would use this to paint his name on items. And also here we have a photograph of him in his uniform, which ties a face to the guy who owned these items, which I think, really, you know, historically helps us out. Of particular interest are these diaries. A normal diary would start at, like, $800 to $1,000 with good content.
But because these mention his time in prison, and they also mention some guys who went over to the Confederate army instead of staying in the Union army, well, that's something that any collector or a scholar would be fascinated by, so you could figure any one of these easily starting out at about $1,500 apiece.
APPRAISER: Over here, these are very, very unique. They're bone carvings. Prisoners of war have all the time in the world, as you can imagine, and there's nothing to do, so they would sit around and pick up little bits of wood or bone and they would carve favors or things to trade to the guards or to sell to other soldiers that were in prison with them. And these are a unique grouping. We have a little cannon here on top of a ring, a little pitcher, a little federal shield with a soldier's face in it. Those three items together, believe it or not, probably worth around $1,000. This stencil is probably worth $200 or $300 and the housewife is probably worth about $500 or $600. This is a unique thing because it's a little patriotic Confederate flag. It's all hand painted, the stars are all hand sewn. We have the letters "CSA" right here. Often these are called "bible flags" because soldiers would use them to mark the pages in their bible. But this one has been put on a haft so he could actually use it. And one of the interesting things is he probably traded the guard some of the things he carved to get his flag, which he brought home as a souvenir. And this little flag by itself is probably worth $1,500 to $2,000. If we didn't have this little bit of damage, maybe $3,000. So it's a unique archive of the life of a guy who spent a great deal of time in prison in the Civil War. And because it all belongs to the same guy and it's all his past, if I had these things in my shop, I'd probably want maybe $9,500 for them as a group. It's a really unique grouping.
GUEST: Wow. Thanks.
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