Memphis Novelty Works Spur, ca. 1861
Appraised Value: $3,500 - $4,500
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (2:40)
Arms & Militaria
Shiloh Civil War Relics
GUEST: I brought a spur end I picked up at an auction with two other spurs. I noticed that it was-- it had "C.S." on it, and I'd figured it was a pretty good spur. So I bought all three spurs for, uh, $200.
APPRAISER: What do you know about this one?
GUEST: I know it's a Confederate spur. And I think it's a Leech and Rigdon, but I don't know from what area in Tennessee it's from for sure.
APPRAISER: It is a Tennessee-made spur. It's actually made in Memphis, Tennessee, by Leech and Rigdon, also known as the Memphis Novelty Works Company. They made the most beautiful spur of the Civil War for the Confederacy and this is it. On the front, we have the "C.S." letters for Confederate States. The good news is, it's a hundred percent original.
APPRAISER: They copy a lot of these spurs. When these spurs were cast, they were cast completely flat. And they're hand-hammered out. If you notice, you can still see those hammer marks on the side where they hammered it into the shape of a spur. They made it actually in a sand mold completely flat. And that sand mold leaves a residue. You can imagine the grainy look of sand.
APPRAISER: And that's one of the things you want to look for. And on this one, you can see the grain on the inside of the strap loop. When you cast it in sand, you're going to have "burrs." And so they have to take a file and they hand file those burrs off. And if you notice, you have the file marks on the inside.
GUEST: Oh, ha!
APPRAISER: And basically, anything that's sand cast will have those traits in the metal. The reproductions are actually made in wax molds.
APPRAISER: And if you make something in a wax mold, you lose that detail. The brass will have more of a blurred look to it. And you like to see those crisp edges. You like to see the file marks. This one has a beautiful, large rowel. And, to collectors, we refer to this as a Mexican-style rowel. Because the Mexican spurs had huge rowels on them. A lot of times that's missing. It's as pretty as I've ever seen. This spur, on a one to ten, could be a ten and a half.
GUEST: Ha! Wow!
APPRAISER: It's a beautiful spur. If this piece were in a retail situation, it would probably bring between $3,500 and $4,500.
APPRAISER: It's a beautiful spur.
APPRAISER: Most of these that you encounter are in excavated condition.
APPRAISER: Meaning they were found by metal detectors and relic hunters in campsites, and they've been in the ground for 140 years. This one is actually a non-excavated, meaning that it came out of, uh, someone's drawer, someone's attic. And those are a lot tougher to find on the Memphis Novelty Works spurs like this.
APPRAISER: It has a rich patina, just a beautiful spur.
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