Civil War Autograph Collection
Appraised Value: $75,000 - $100,000
IMAGE: 1 of 3
Appraisal Video: (3:19)
Arms & Militaria
Shiloh Civil War Relics
GUEST: It is my great-great-grandfather's Civil War autograph collection. It's a scrapbook that he put together during and after the Civil War.
APPRAISER: What's so special about this is the effort that your ancestor went into, into putting this together. It's not just a book with little clip signatures. It's actually more of a piece of folk art. Let's move to the first page. Who do we have here?
GUEST: It's General Grant and General Sherman. And if you lift up the page, you'll see his autograph.
APPRAISER: Which is a wonderful way to display it. He didn't just go in and glue it in. He made it personal. That's a thing a collector loves in an album of autographs.
GUEST: And underneath Sherman's photograph is General Sherman's autograph.
APPRAISER: This one is dated 1889. Did he send off and get these after the war?
GUEST: Oh, yeah. He sent a lot of letters, and a lot of letters that are in this book are addressed to these people, requesting autographs.
APPRAISER: On the next page we have one that's pretty interesting. Who is this gentleman?
GUEST: That would be Frederick Douglass.
APPRAISER: He was one of the most important people in the antislavery movement. Your ancestor being a Caucasian, collecting African-American signatures was an important thing in this time frame.
APPRAISER: And this one is a nice clip signature. That one was probably trimmed out of a letter.
APPRAISER: And we also have a signature here of Booker T. Washington. Another fine signature. This one's one of the most beautiful pages.
GUEST: Oh, yes.
APPRAISER: Confederate President Jefferson Davis. So he not only collected Union autographs, he also collected Confederate autographs. And we have the nice business card size signature of Jefferson Davis. On this page we have the commander of the Confederate forces, Robert E. Lee. Beautiful clip signature. Do you know where he got that one at?
GUEST: Yes, this letter was from Robert E. Lee's secretary. And my grandfather wrote a letter to him requesting an autograph and he actually apologized for the size of the autograph.
APPRAISER: There were very few. A lot of people requested them.
GUEST: Oh, yes.
APPRAISER: And saving this letter makes this autograph all that more important, because it shows some of the effort that your ancestor went to in obtaining these signatures. On this page we have... who is this signature?
GUEST: Ah. Morgan from Morgan's Raiders.
APPRAISER: John Hunt Morgan.
APPRAISER: And what's the significance of Morgan to your ancestor?
GUEST: My ancestor was actually captured by Morgan. And he's written a story called "A Day with General Morgan." They were forced to march down to the... where the trains were, and they got on the trains and they blew the trains up, and Morgan released the whole regiment.
APPRAISER: Morgan's signature is really tough to get, because he did not survive the war. This is a piece I assume you would never get rid of. So what we would be looking for is an insurance value on it. When you add up all of those signatures, all the history that's contained in this book, I would want to insure this somewhere between $75,000 and $100,000.
GUEST: Wow. Wow.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2015 WGBH Educational Foundation.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.