Civil War Battlefield Artifact, ca. 1865

Value (2011) | $2,000 Retail$3,000 Retail
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GUEST:
Well, I brought in a log that was purportedly cut from the limb of a tree that was on the Gettysburg battlefield.

APPRAISER:
When did you get it?

GUEST:
My father traded for it at a trading post in Carlsbad, New Mexico, around 1965.

APPRAISER:
What did he trade for it?

GUEST:
A Zenith transoceanic radio.

APPRAISER:
What was the radio worth at that time?

GUEST:
Probably about $50.

APPRAISER:
What we've got is something that brings home the magnitude of war. This is a tree from the battlefield, and each one of these pieces is shrapnel or a piece from a musket. And, as you look around, it hit it from almost every angle. And you think a skinny little tree like that was getting hit that much, there's no place to hide. It's spectacular. You have musket balls, and if you notice on this side, we have a piece of iron. That's a piece from a cannon projectile. That's an actual piece that blew apart and embedded in the tree.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
And what's wonderful about this, it was cut down years later. When did he say he thought it was cut down?

GUEST:
Between 1904 and 1907.

APPRAISER:
The tree was still alive, and the tree tries to heal itself. And if you notice, the knots, they can't push it out, so it grows around it.

GUEST:
How are you sure that this came from Gettysburg?

APPRAISER:
Unfortunately, we can't tell.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
Sometimes you'll see where they'll paint the name of the battle on the tree. But without it, you have to do a verbal history.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
And it will always be attributed to, not identified to.

GUEST:
I see. So even though we can't be sure it came from Gettysburg, we can be sure that it was around that time period.

APPRAISER:
Because of what shot into it.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
Because they're still using the lead balls, we have the iron from the shell, and if you notice, it's a thin shell. It's probably out of a round projectile, and that size is more than likely a thin-walled six-pound cannonball.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
It's a great piece of history. Have you ever had it appraised?

GUEST:
Uh, I have not. My father said a few years ago a gentleman mentioned to him he thought that the value was about $800, but that was a number of years ago.

APPRAISER:
It's all in the eye of the beholder, because a lot of people look at it and they say, "That's just an old hunk of wood." It's not an old hunk of wood. It's a piece of American history. And this piece of American history would retail today between $2,000 and $3,000.

GUEST:
Wow. Awesome.

APPRAISER:
You'll see the small size pieces, just the little small ones that'll have one bullet in them, and they'll bring $50 to $100.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
This one, because you have so many projectiles striking such a small space, that's one of the reasons this gets up to that kind of value.

GUEST:
I see.

APPRAISER:
It got my heart beating when I saw it. (laughs)

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Shiloh Civil War Relics
Savannah, TN
Appraised value (2011)
$2,000 Retail$3,000 Retail
Event
El Paso, TX (June 18, 2011)
Form
Artifact
Material
Metal, Wood

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