Appraisal Video: (3:29)
Arms & Militaria
J. Christopher Mitchell American Antiques & Militaria
GUEST: My father passed away about nine years ago. I was the only remaining child and I went through his stuff, and lo and behold, there was all this Civil War stuff I never knew about. And I found the man who had this stuff was my father's uncle, who joined the Civil War at the age of 16. This gentleman was in the Union infantry and according to the letters, they landed on, I believe it's Hatteras Island, a great number of them. And he went, actually, to the tents of the Confederates and pulled these two flags.
APPRAISER: I've been familiar with these little flags ever since I was a small child. When I was younger, people called them Bible flags. They are Confederate, so they're Southern of origin, and these were made by the wife, or the children, or the aunt, and they were little very sentimental things to take off to the war with you. And they're patriotic. Now I would refer to them more of, not a Bible flag but as a patriotic flag. "Bible" being, oh, it could be small enough to fit in the Bible that you're carrying with you.
APPRAISER: These are called "first nationals." So, when the American Civil War starts, the flag that we always think about with the stars and bars, that's not the flag they have. They have this flag. It's almost very American in effect, but they've changed it because they've changed the number of red and white stripes, the star count. These are the most special that I've ever seen.
GUEST: (laughing) Really?
APPRAISER: To me, as a student, as someone who likes to look at this type of thing, if you look on this very small flag, you'll see that someone has done by hand, "South forever." And do you happen to know what this means?
GUEST: I have no idea.
APPRAISER: This is for the state of North Carolina.
GUEST: Oh, okay.
APPRAISER: I've never seen this flag made before.
GUEST: Really? I'm shocked.
APPRAISER: It doesn't mean it doesn't exist, it doesn't mean there are not others. I've never seen it, and I have been around these things. You may even have some anticipation of, "Well, are they in really good shape?" But for what they are, they are. Because they're silk. And if you fold them, they tend to want to bind and bend, and the fabric can come apart. But these are fine. The big thing is this. He's written, "2 Confederate Flags taken from," it says, "Tents of theirs." So he's pulled these off little poles that are right in front of their tents, and he's put them in his pocket and taken them home as souvenirs. When you can put it in a context that takes you right there, right where you know where it came from, right what's going on, well, then it's alive.
GUEST: I'm getting chills when you're telling me this.
APPRAISER: Otherwise, it's just a piece of silk. They tug at your heart, it's a part of American history. Without this writing, this is the type of flag that I would expect to sell for retail for around $1,000 to $1,500. Same without this pine tree. But if you take into account these two flags together with this awesome letter, I would expect in a retail situation, for these flags to be worth about $10,000. Thank you so much.
GUEST: Oh, thank you.