Appraisal Video: (3:24)
Arms & Militaria
J. Christopher Mitchell American Antiques & Militaria
GUEST: It's a Civil War rifle, and my great-great-great-grandfather owned it. And I know he was on the Union side. He was an engineer, I believe, in the... what they called "The Sappers," the 13th Regiment. And my grandmother says that he liked to play cards, he liked poker. He was a gambler.
APPRAISER: What was his name?
GUEST: His name was William, William Pinckney.
APPRAISER: Well, that's kind of interesting, because if we look on the gun right here, you’ll notice that he carved his name into it. And I think that's a really neat factor for a collector, because it identifies the gun to an individual, and it makes the object come alive. This is a Model 1853 Enfield rifle. Enfield rifle musket. And the United States government and the Confederate government both purchased these guns. As you can imagine, when the war started, the United States had more access to money, obviously more access to firearms, so they had really good quality guns. But they did go and buy some of these instead of just the standard Springfields. But the Confederacy was very short for firearms. It's telling that they're going overseas and buying them and have to run them back through the blockade.
APPRAISER: Well, this is a Confederate gun.
GUEST: Oh, okay.
APPRAISER: And one of the ways I know that is it's marked with some very, very identifying and telling marks.
APPRAISER: If you look right back here at the back, on the tang, you’re going to see that it has a serial number. And it's "3908". And then there's the letter "A". If you go back out to the front of the gun and look on the ramrod, there’s that same serial number with the letter "A". And those are serial numbers that are applied by the Confederate purchaser.
APPRAISER: So, this gun was made in England, but purchased by the Confederate government and run through the blockade.
APPRAISER: So the first guns that came out have no letter, and we believe that what happens is they had a run of 10,000 and then they start over. So then you get the letter A. That's another run of 10,000, and then the letter B. After that, we haven't, at this point, encountered one with a letter that goes beyond that.
APPRAISER: When this gun was new, it came with a bayonet that had the exact same serial number on it.
GUEST: That's what my grandmother said, that we lost that.
APPRAISER: And that's kind of like the Holy Grail for an Enfield collector. Confederates were actually eager to get into a fight sometimes, especially in the beginning of the war, because they were so desperate for good-quality weapons, and they wanted to capture them, and they would scour the battlefields for them. By the time of the campaigns of '62 and '63, they really needed access to good firearms. Somehow, at some point, this gun was captured.
APPRAISER: And then issued to a Union soldier. Here's a gun that's actually of the quality that a soldier in the Union Army would use, and I can promise you that the Confederate that lost this probably sorely missed it, if he didn't lose his life.
APPRAISER: The value is affected in a couple of different ways on this gun. If this were just a plain Enfield, without your relative's name on it, you might expect a gun in this condition, which is a little relic-y, to sell for around $1,000. With his name on it, and his information... but the real clincher is the serial numbers.
APPRAISER: Because now you can identify it to a Confederate gun, it goes on for further use in the U.S. Army, it’s a gun that, for retail, it might sell for around $6,000.