1896 Wisconsin National Guard Presentation Sword
Well, this is a sword that we've always called our Civil War sword. My husband's brother bought it at a swap meet in Portland about 50 years ago. He bought it because our last name is engraved on the blade. Tennant.
What's the first name on it?
Have you ever used the sword?
Yes. We cut our wedding cake with it 48 years ago.
This sword is technically a model 1860 sword, which makes you think it's Civil War, but it's not. On the underside of the guard, we actually have, engraved, the date 1896, and it says, "Presented by Company L. Company L, Second Infantry, WNG." It's Wisconsin National Guard.
This Tennant was from Ashland, Wisconsin, and before he received this sword, he formed the Ashland Rifles. This was probably their way to say thank you, and they actually stayed in service as a different regiment and served during the Spanish-American War. But the sword is a model 1860. Most of the swords of that pattern were made from 1870 on up into around 1900. This one is better than the average bear. Because it's such a high grade, you have the plain Jane ones that they would wear in regular field use, and then you have the high quality ones like this. The regular ones will have plain guards with cast eagles. It's nice and easy to cast a solid brass eagle. This one not only has the casting, somebody went in by hand and did chase work around the eagle to bring the detail out in the eagle where it kind of pops. And the scabbard mounts are done the same way. You pay extra for that chase work, you pay extra for the gold inlay on the blade, they had to pay extra to have the name put on it, and the handle is a little better than usual. Usually it has a simple brass handle. This one has a pewter handle that's silver washed and it has the braided wire on top of the handle. This sword, in today's world, because of all the ornateness, and because we know who had it, is probably worth somewhere between $2,000 and $3,000.
The unnamed swords, the ones that we don't know who carried it, they usually sell between $200 and $300. So this one is worth ten times as much.
That's great. Maybe we shouldn't have cut the cake with it.
(laughs) One cake every 50 years won't bother it.
Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.
Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."
Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.
Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.
Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.
Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.
Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.
Last Tango in Halifax
Enjoy the third season of this award-winning series that celebrates life and love