Civil War Uniform Group: Hat, Coat & Pants, ca. 1864

Value (2012) | $15,000 Insurance
Watch  

GUEST:
This is a Civil War uniform that is my husband's two-time great-grandfather's.

APPRAISER:
Who did he serve with during the war?

GUEST:
The Union Army.

APPRAISER:
We have the coat, the hat, and his pants. Of the pieces, what do you think's the rarest?

GUEST:
Well, my guess would be either the hat or the pants.

APPRAISER:
And they are, and the reason being when you come home from war, you didn't always wear the coat, but the pants and the hat the soldiers wore a lot. So they'd wear them out and throw them away. We have the eagle button with the "I" on it, which stands for "infantry". We have the blue on the shoulder straps of the uniform, which lets us know, again, that it's infantry. We have the two bars in the shoulder strap that let us know that it was worn by a captain. And what's wonderful is we have a picture of him wearing this coat. The coat is a single-breasted frock coat, and it has the traits that we like to see in a Civil War coat. It has functioning cuffs, it has the nice balloon sleeves, and it actually has pockets in the back of the coat.

GUEST:
Oh, wow.

APPRAISER:
This is what they call a McDowell-style forage cap. On the inside of it, it has the maker's label of Baker & McKenney, who were located in New York City. Laura Baker was one of the few ladies that owned manufacturing companies during the Civil War. The pants are what's special to me, because there's several thing that you look for on a pair of Civil War pants that you don't see on later pants. We don't have a back pocket. We have this wonderful tin strap adjuster. We have, inside the leg, they reinforced the front because it rubs against the boot, and that's one of the places it wears out first on a pair of pants. They've still got very nice color. This is about as nice as you could hope for a pair of pants that actually saw service to be in, condition-wise. When did you get them?

GUEST:
It's been in the family forever. My husband and I took possession of them just a few weeks ago.

APPRAISER:
Where had they been stored?

GUEST:
In a steamer trunk in a barn.

APPRAISER:
Glad you got that steamer trunk out of that barn.

GUEST:
Yeah, we are too.

APPRAISER:
They're all worth about the same individually. The coat, the hat and the pants are worth about $4,000 apiece.

GUEST:
(laughing) Okay. Did not expect that, okay.

APPRAISER:
And that's if we didn't know who owned them. Because we know who owned them, we know what he did--his service was an impressive one-- as a group, it's something I would insure for $15,000.

GUEST:
(laughing) I had no idea. That's amazing, that's amazing. Thank you.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Shiloh Civil War Relics
Savannah, Tennessee
Appraised value (2012)
$15,000 Insurance
Event
Cincinnati, OH (July 21, 2012)
Form
Clothes, Coat
Material
Wool

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.