Military Uniform Button Collection, ca. 1865

Value (2008) | $5,085 Retail$5,095 Retail

GUEST:
I brought in military buttons. They were in a attic, given to my mother from friends who used to take care of her when she was little. I've had them now about, I'd say, a good 25 years, and I just keep them in a box.

APPRAISER:
In a box. What's the card for?

GUEST:
This card belongs to an actress or a performer, Bessie Gillette. She was a performer with the Hammerstein Grand Opera Company in 1907.

APPRAISER:
Were the buttons hers?

GUEST:
They were not hers. The story is that these belonged to her paramours, if you will.

APPRAISER:
Uh-oh.(chuckling)

GUEST:
She was a performing artist, and I'm sure she had quite a bevy of young men coming to see her.

APPRAISER:
Bless her heart. (laughing)Well, what we have, we have a variety of uniform buttons, military uniform buttons. And the first two are the artillery officer eagle "A" buttons. They have the eagle on the front, they have the "A" in the shield, and the "A" denotes the artillery branch of service. From the front, they look identical.

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
What's cool about them is the back. We have the Horstmann of Philadelphia maker mark on the back.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
Of this one. Which is a good, early back mark. That's what you refer to the stamping on the back of the button as is a back mark. They change as time progresses. The construction and the makers change. This one has a large-letter "Waterbury Button Co." in Waterbury, Connecticut, one of the largest button makers. This particular style is post-Civil War,and to collectors, little details make big differences.

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
This button, being Civil War, is about a $60 button.

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
This button, being postwar, is about a $10 or $15 button. So it's four times more valuable being a Civil War button than a postwar button with the same face.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
These two on this side are pre- and postwar as well. This one is the National Guard of Pennsylvania. It has the "N.G." at the bottom for National Guard, and it has the state seal of Pennsylvania. You always hear about somebody that wins the lottery.

GUEST:
Yeah.

APPRAISER:
This button won the lottery.

GUEST:
Oh, yeah?

APPRAISER:
The postwar one is only worth about $15-- $15, $20. This one is prewar. It's for the state of Arkansas. The Northern company that made it, Horstmann & Allien, they were located in New York. They manufactured buttons and shipped them south, which wasn't very, uh, highly looked upon in that timeframe, which is the late 1850s, early 1860s.

GUEST:
Oh, okay.

APPRAISER:
They shipped only a small quantity to Arkansas.

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
Therefore, there's only a handful of them in existence. You can get several of the states fairly commonly. You can find Virginias, you can find South Carolinas, you can find North Carolinas. Very few people have Arkansas.

GUEST:
Oh.

APPRAISER:
In a retail situation, that button would bring at least $5,000.

GUEST:
Really? Wow. (chuckles) That's incredible. Just that one button, without...?

APPRAISER:
Just the one button.

GUEST:
Really?

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Shiloh Civil War Relics
Savannah, TN
Appraised value (2008)
$5,085 Retail$5,095 Retail
Event
Hartford, CT (August 23, 2008)
Form
Button
Material
Metal

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