Appraisal Video: (3:20)
Arms & Militaria
J. Christopher Mitchell American Antiques & Militaria
GUEST: Well, I know very little about it, except what's on it. There's some information that I got from it-- the date, and looks like it's a Confederate gun. But it's been in the family for over 100 years and no one seems to know how we got it.
APPRAISER: You used to play with this when you were a child?
GUEST: Unfortunately, I did. And I'm looking at the condition of it now, and I can imagine what it must have been like when I was playing with it; I used to put caps under that, and we played, uh, cowboys and Indians with it.
APPRAISER: Okay, well, we're going to get to condition here in a minute, but what I will tell you is that it is a Confederate-made gun. It's made by the firm of Dickson and Nelson. It's marked on the back. You can plainly see it says Alabama and the date, 1865. That might lead us to believe that the gun was made in Alabama, but actually, it's made in Dawson, Georgia. It was made under contract for the state of Alabama. When the war started, the Confederacy really didn't have enough arms and armament so they had to make their own guns, especially in the beginning, and they designed their guns after a U.S. model 1841 rifle, commonly referred to as the Mississippi. Pretty much size- and proportion-wise, this gun is identical to a Mississippi rifle, other than the fact that we don't have a patch box in the back. A Mississippi rifle would always have a patch box. Confederate guns are normally a little bit cruder than U.S.-made guns. Um, this gun, actually, is one of the better made Confederate rifles that there is. While it would not pass a U.S. government inspection, it is actually a fine product for something made in the South. It was probably taken home as a souvenir. Probably captured right at the end of the war, because it is dated 1865. So it was probably never used in the war itself. I know you were worried about having played with it, maybe that you've hurt the condition, but actually, it's in wonderful condition for a Confederate gun. We still have some furring in the wood, which is nice. All the metal surfaces are in wonderful condition. There is actually a little bit of browning left on the barrel that was originally put on to keep it from rusting. The condition is as found. So nobody's polished the brass, which is a terrible thing to do. No one has tried to shine the barrel. We would have lost what little browning we had the minute you tried to do that. You can take a good quality gun oil and a nice soft cloth and wipe off the metal surfaces, but you don't want to bother the wood or the brass.
GUEST: Okay. What kind of wood is this? This one is probably walnut. It's a wonderful Confederate gun. If this were a U.S. model 1841 Mississippi rifle, we would think this to be kind of fair condition, and maybe it would be worth $1,500 to $2,000. But as a Confederate gun, because it is so nice and the condition is wonderful, it's a desirable item. If I had this, I would want somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000 for it.
GUEST: Say that again.
APPRAISER: Somewhere between 30,000 to 40,000. It's a very rare gun, and it's in wonderful condition for a Confederate- made gun.
GUEST: Incredible. Uh, were there many of them made?
APPRAISER: You know, it's hard to say, but the production is definitely very limited because there's no real great survival rate, and a lot of the ones that do survive are actually in very poor condition, really poor condition.
GUEST: Wow. Well, that's, that's great to know. I appreciate that.
APPRAISER: It's a nice gun.
GUEST: Yeah, well, it is a nicer gun now than it was before.
APPRAISER: You like it a little better, huh?
GUEST: I certainly do.