New York Militia Uniform, ca. 1858
Appraised Value: $5,000 - $7,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (3:14)
Arms & Militaria
Grenadier Military Antiques
GUEST: Well, it was given to me by my dad. My dad got it from a family who told him it originated in New York. And supposedly he came out to California to serve. The only thing I have to that is his name and date in the pocket, yeah.
APPRAISER: This is what a lot of people think is a Civil War officer's frock coat. It's actually a little bit pre-Civil War, what we call the antebellum period, the pre-war period. As you mentioned, the name on the pocket, the date-- it's dated 1858. Virtually the same regulation as the Civil War. You'll notice, obviously, the man was a very small man, and the way they made uniforms then, the waist is very, very narrow. But they really padded the chest, probably with horse hair, to give it a big-chested look. You've got the little tufts here on top of the arm. And what's very common from this period is the big ballooned elbow and the narrow cuff and then the long skirt, where it's almost a feminine look. The difference in this jacket from a Civil War jacket is that it's a militia jacket, it's New York State militia. These are New York State buttons. They have the New York State crest with the eagle, and then the word "excelsior," which is the New York motto, underneath the eagle. At one time it did have shoulder straps on it, but they've been removed somewhere over the years. This is in absolutely superb condition. You have a wonderful nap to the wool. It has not been eaten by bugs or any type of deterioration. The colors are bright; the buttons have all of their gilt finish on them still. It's absolutely unusual to find a 150-year-old uniform like this. Getting down to the trousers, very typical again. They follow federal regulation, other than the stripe. They're the sky blue wool, but they do have a striping that's more militia style and not federal.
GUEST: Oh, okay.
APPRAISER: Now, we looked at this name, and we think the last name is Severing, correct?
GUEST: Yes, yes.
APPRAISER: Now, I looked at the initial; I've done some research. There's one Severing listed, and it was Augustus Severing. He was listed as a surgeon of the 29th New York Battery of Light Artillery, which was a pre-war militia that did have federal service. The stripe down the pants in the center here is dark green. Dark green was the color of the United States Army Medical Corps at that time, and it would not be unusual for a militia to follow that as well. So this is a good indicator that that may be the correct man, that he was a surgeon. This does kind of resemble an "A," but it could be a "G." It's a little faded. The family said that this may have come out to California, so there's a little discrepancy there as to if it is this Augustus or if it's somebody else with a similar name. So, what you've got is a superb condition, pre-war militia jacket and trousers. If this was going to be offered at a retail level for sale, I would say $5,000 to $7,000.
GUEST: Oh, wow, okay.
APPRAISER: If it was regulation U.S. Army, probably $2,000, $3,000 more than that.
GUEST: I see, so there's a difference between militia and regular army.
APPRAISER: The militia things and pre-Civil War things are not quite as valuable as the wartime articles.
GUEST: Well, I appreciate that. Thank you very much.
APPRAISER: My pleasure. Thank you.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2014 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.