Appraisal Video: (3:17)
Arms & Militaria
J. Christopher Mitchell American Antiques & Militaria
APPRAISER: What can you tell me about these items that you've brought in today, your Great Uncle Jim and his traveling museum?
GUEST: They were in a collection that he traveled by wagon around probably the states of Iowa, and Northern Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, in the 1890s. He had three wagons that I know of, and also, in addition to Indian artifacts and Civil War items, a few animals.
APPRAISER: A few animals? Okay.
GUEST: Yeah. He was a veteran of the Civil War, born in 1845.
APPRAISER: Do you know what regiment he was in?
GUEST: Company H, Third Iowa Cavalry.
APPRAISER: Is this how he made his living?
GUEST: He, at one time, operated a brickyard, then he seemed to, for about ten or 12 years, operate this traveling show, and in his later years, he had a hybrid seed corn business.
APPRAISER: Okay, all right. Well, because he decided at some point to try to make a living with his traveling show, he's actually done collectors a great favor. Oftentimes, when we find relics, antiques, especially things from the Civil War, we have no way of putting it in context to the owner. What we have here with his things, though, is he's taken quite a few things and labeled them.
APPRAISER: If we look at this canteen, it has this nice tag on it that says, "A Rebel soldier's canteen." Well, it's actually got a patented screw top. And we're not really sure if these were used by Confederate soldiers. It could have been purchased sometime during the war or after. As a canteen, it's probably worth somewhere around $200. But because of this elaborate, nice, turn-of-the-century-style tag that's on it, today this would be worth around $1,000.
APPRAISER: The ID on it does not really pat it down for us, but it does in fact increase the value. Now, there's quite a rare buckle here. It's a non-dove Confederate buckle. We refer to them as clip corners. You have the "C.S." on there for "Confederate States." I feel quite confident that at one time, that had a paper tag in front of it that said "Confederate Buckle" or something along that line. But it's okay that the tag is missing with this item, because it is in such nice shape, and it isn't dug up, and we do have quite a bit of the black enameling still in it. That's probably worth around $4,500.
GUEST: My goodness.
APPRAISER: So the real kicker is the photographs. What can you tell me about them?
GUEST: I checked some of the names on the roster of the Third Iowa Cavalry, and I... while I didn't check every name, at least half of them were on that roster.
APPRAISER: So they were in his company. These little gem-type images might sell for $2, $3, $4 or $5 a piece. But because he took the time to write down the gentleman's name and the regiment that he served with, it helps us to put them into context, so we can understand them as individual human beings, the battles that they fought in, the tribulations that they had together. And that greatly increases the value. So that makes this something that now might be worth somewhere between $700 and $800.
GUEST: Oh, really?
APPRAISER: If we put the whole group together, it's probably $6,000, $6,500 worth of stuff, if I had it for sale in my shop. It's a great grouping, and he has done us a favor by labeling these things and putting them in context. And I appreciate you bringing them.
GUEST: Thank you very much.