Painted Confederate Cedarwood Canteen
Appraised Value: $5,000 - $6,000 (2012)
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (2:48)
Arms & Militaria
J. Christopher Mitchell American Antiques & Militaria
GUEST: It came from our family, and it was a canteen for someone in the Civil War. We think it was Nola Rae, who was with Sherman in the March to the Sea.
APPRAISER: If we look to the front we'll see, "Lieutenant N.W. Rae, died in Chattanooga Hospital from wounds received in defense of his country at Resaca, Georgia, June 2, 1864." And then it lists his age as 22 years. And all of that does pan out. Obviously, I went back and looked, and these are actual true events. Now, one of the things that I really like about this canteen is the motto. "We live in deeds, not years." And I think they're referring to the fact that he died such a young man, but they feel that he lived a very full life because he served his country honorably. When this was painted we cannot be certain. This may have been painted by a family member, or by a friend commemorating his death. Now, if we look on the back of the canteen, we'll also notice that it's been painted with this cute little landscape with the waterfall. It's fairly well-done, although naive. He was a Union soldier. Do we know what state he fought for?
GUEST: I think Illinois.
APPRAISER: Well, it may interest you to know that this is in fact a Confederate canteen.
GUEST: Oh, is that right?
APPRAISER: Right, this is a canteen that we've commonly referred to in the trade as a "cedar wood" because it's made out of cedar wood. That's what helps it hold its water. So the canteen itself is a Confederate souvenir that was brought home by someone or sent home maybe from his effects. And it was very popular with the Union soldiers to trade things for really folky, Confederate things. And one of the things they loved the most was this cedar wood canteen. And they would trade their metal canteens or tobacco for it. Or it could have been captured. I mean, we have no real way to ascertain that.
APPRAISER: If you look up at the top, we'll notice that there's no cork or spout. This had a turned wood top. And then the cork went in it.
APPRAISER: And so when we're jiggling this canteen. What you hear rolling around there is the cork.
APPRAISER: So we've lost the turned wood, but the cork is inside. You have the remnants of the original leather strap. He's kind of gold painted the bands that are going around it. Now, retail this is a canteen that in today's market you might expect to bring between $5,000 and $6,000.
GUEST: Oh, is that right?
APPRAISER: That's the retail price. But it's interesting to note that the cedar wood canteens in and of themself have had a little bit of a draw back in value, the non-decorated ones.
APPRAISER: But you've surpassed that whole idea because of this kind of folk art done in memoriam to this soldier.
GUEST: Oh, oh.
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