Civil War Regimental Drum, ca. 1863
Appraised Value: $8,000 - $9,000 (2007)
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (2:48)
Arms & Militaria
J. Christopher Mitchell American Antiques & Militaria
GUEST: It's been in my family for probably more than 70 years. My grandfather bought it in Maryland, along with some other military items, mostly Civil War-- letters, a sword—and he bought it in the '30s, so I probably have had this drum, maybe, going on 40 years.
APPRAISER: Okay. So he was a very early collector.
GUEST: Yes, he loved...
APPRAISER: Very early interest.
GUEST: Yes, he loved history.
APPRAISER: It's called a regimental drum. You have this nice kind of iconic, folky, American eagle on here. It's the type of thing that a collector really loves, with its wonderful colors and paint. You'll see where it says R-E-G for "regiment," and then it goes on and it says "infantry."
APPRAISER: And, sometimes, they could actually paint the number of the regiment in front of this R-E-G. But we do know the regiment that this drum was in because after the war, the owner took the time to write down his full name, the regiment he was in and the battles that he fought in. This is a really unique aspect. And it's something that collectors enjoy because it takes this away from just being an object and it actually puts it in a place, and it puts it in a person's hands, so we can really kind of get our fingers around it and understand it. And that's what collectors love. It says: "Through The Civil War, Justus N. Williams."
APPRAISER: He shows this date of enlistment and the date he's discharged. He lists his regiment-- he's in Company F of the 122nd New York State Volunteers, and he's in the Second Division of the Sixth Corps.
APPRAISER: You have to imagine this is probably a very young man, he's carrying this drum, and he comes and he says "Under fire in..." And that means he's actually in the thick of battle with his friends, his brothers, the people that he lives with. They become almost like a family to him. One of the really great aspects is he is at the three pivotal days in the American Civil War. He's at the Battle of Antietam, which is the bloodiest day in American military history. He is at the Battle of Gettysburg, which is the high watermark for the Confederacy. It's the true beginning of the end.
APPRAISER: And then he's at Appomattox, when it's all summed up and the war's over and it's come to a close. He's playing a part in these things that are happening in our country's history and then, after the war, he's taken it and written it all down, so it tells us a story.
GUEST: That's great.
APPRAISER: And that's what a collector likes. It's in its original untouched condition. That's a big thing for a collector, too. We have all the original paint; the ropes are original, the leathers are original. That's something that a collector looks for. I think, retail, this drum is probably worth somewhere between $8,000 and $9,000.
GUEST: Oh, wow.
APPRAISER: No, it's a nice drum, and it's the history that really drives the value.
GUEST: Geez! Uh-huh.
APPRAISER: If it did not have that writing, then you would be thinking more along $4,500.
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