Appraisal Video: (3:26)
Arms & Militaria
J. Christopher Mitchell American Antiques & Militaria
GUEST: It belonged to my husband. He was a collector of military memorabilia, mostly guns, and some knives. And after his death, uh, I was looking through the trunk that he stored it all in, and I found this at the very bottom of it. I had seen it many times before, but I never asked him too many questions about it, so I really can't tell you too much about the knife.
APPRAISER: Okay. Did he like things from the Civil War era?
APPRAISER: Well, that's what we have. We have a knife from the American Civil War; and more specifically, this is a Confederate side-knife. It would've been manufactured in the South. It could have been any one of the states that fought for the Confederacy, because the knife is probably made by a blacksmith. A Confederate soldier, a big thing for him-- a big item to have when the war begins, something of pride-- is a nice large bowie knife to carry. So they would all go down to the local blacksmith, or local knife-maker, and inquire about having a large, big side-knife made. Oftentimes, you'd see them in photographs, and they'd have this big knife out, with it up in front of them.
APPRAISER: You know, to represent their state and their idea of this martial... Sometimes you'd see them, and they'd even have a little placard in this hand that would say, "Jeff Davis and the South," or something like that. It was very popular. Sometimes you'll find these knives and they'll have an iron D-guard, and then sometimes, we just have this cruciform guard, like this. Oftentimes, the blades are made out of old files; that's probably the case that we have here. The handle is made out of beech. It's a very popular wood that's used in tools of the time-- planes are made out of it. It's a dense material. Another interesting characteristic about the knife-- we've got an edge all the way along the base of the blade, but we also have this, almost like a little clip at the top, where it's got a double edge. And that's nice; collectors like that. They like it when it has this kind of double edge, instead of just the single edge. As the war went on, they began to realize, these knives weren't necessarily that great a tool. They were shooting rifle muskets. There's not as much hand-to-hand combat. And the bigger knives, especially, are unwieldy and heavy. They're very difficult to transport. So they're traded or sent home. A knife like this, if we were to find it without the scabbard, just the knife, retail, you would be thinking... $1,500 to maybe $2,000. But what I like especially about your knife is this scabbard. We very rarely find them with the scabbard, and this one is really nice. We've got this nice tin throat at the top to reinforce the leather. We have a little leather belt hook that's sewn on, so you can attach it to your belt. But what's really attractive is it's been tooled with these geometric designs. It's very, very nice. This is a very desirable aspect. When you take into account that we have this wonderful scabbard, any idea of what it does to the value of the knife?
GUEST: Well, it should increase it, I know.
APPRAISER: Oh, it absolutely does. With the scabbard, I think this knife would retail for around $7,000.
GUEST: Goodness gracious!
APPRAISER: Oh, yeah. It's a wonderful Southern-made Confederate knife. Wonderful shape, and as far as maintaining it, or taking care of it, it's important to note that this leather, the tanning process that's used for this, it's not like what we have today. And you do not want to put any kind of modern leather-care on this. A really great scabbard. It was fun to see.
GUEST: Well, I'm glad to hear that.