Confederate Short Sword, ca. 1865
Appraised Value: $6,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (3:00)
Arms & Militaria
J. Christopher Mitchell American Antiques & Militaria
GUEST: It was my grandfather's, and supposedly in the early 1900s he found it on the beach in Galveston, Texas.
APPRAISER: Did you ever find any information out about it?
GUEST: You know, I've never found a sword like it. I did take it to a local library, where a gentleman appraised it and said he thought it was from the Texas-Spanish War in the 1850s. And he offered me $1,200, or said it was worth $1,200 at that time. That was about six years ago.
APPRAISER: All right. This is in fact a Civil War sword, so it's going to be after the Mexican War, but before the Spanish-American War. So this is going to be right in the heart of the 1860s. They make an artillery sword like this that has a fish-scale grip. They make a naval cutlass like this with a bigger basket that has a fish-scale grip. Normally when you see a sword for the artillery, the blade is just a spear point. But on this it's made much more like... almost like a Bowie knife.
APPRAISER: And it's got a clip point out at the end. Then we've got this kind of S-shaped crossguard, which is unlike really an artillery sword, unlike a cutlass, again a little bit more like a knife. But I think in the end, one of the reasons that we're going to call this as an artillery sword is because of the little letters that we have marked right up here at the top. We feel like this is for the Jeff Davis Artillery.
APPRAISER: Jeff Davis Artillery is from the city of Selma, Alabama. These knives show up in Alabama, they show up in Mississippi.
APPRAISER: They can show up in Texas, but they're normally more in the Deep South, depending on where the migration went. Maybe 12, 13, 14 of these have turned up. I've never seen one with a scabbard. The Jeff Davis Artillery, they're a very interesting group. They don't spend any time in the Deep South. They're immediately sent to Virginia. And they fight in all the major engagements, which is kind of what you want when you're buying and selling a relic. They're at the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day in our history, they're at the Battle of Gettysburg, the highwater mark of the Confederacy. They're in and amongst it. And if you notice here on your guard, see where we can see the casting mark?
APPRAISER: These are made in such a hurry, they don't even try to really finish them out. And that's why it's just left there for you to see, because it's not expedient for real combat to fix this. Whereas if you were trying to sell something to the United States government, this would never pass muster.
GUEST: I got you.
APPRAISER: It's crude for what it is, but people who like Confederate things would just find this really nice. When the war starts, you see all these very famous pictures of Confederate soldiers with these huge knives, and there are placards that say, "Jeff Davis," in the South. This is that idea. I think in a retail situation, you might expect this to bring around $6,000.
GUEST: Oh, great.
APPRAISER: It's in good shape. I think you had mentioned playing with it a little bit when you were a kid.
GUEST: Oh, yeah. I played a pirate, cutting bamboo with it out in the woods.
APPRAISER: Are you the one that did just a little bit of sharpening on the blade?
GUEST: More than likely.
APPRAISER: That's okay. It's not in there deep enough.
GUEST: That was 50 years ago.
APPRAISER: Right, and it's not really going to harm it.
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