Confederate Naval Sword & Portraits

Value (2013) | $20,000 Retail
Watch  

GUEST:
This belonged to my great-great-great-grandfather, who was a fleet surgeon for the United States Navy and then the Confederate Navy after 1861.

APPRAISER:
Do you happen to know, did he go to Annapolis Medical School?

GUEST:
He went to Kenyon College, I believe in Ohio. They actually had to walk about 500 miles to get to the school. He was one of ten in the family.

APPRAISER:
So up until the time of the American Civil War, he served in the United States Navy under that capacity.

GUEST:
Yes, as fleet sergeant.

APPRAISER:
Okay, well, that makes complete sense, because the sword that we're looking at here actually predates the American Civil War.

GUEST:
Predates?

APPRAISER:
It predates it. You've got this nice, big American eagle pommel, you've got a leather scabbard, you've got the big fouled anchor. It's a pattern that we come across. A lot of times, they're manufactured by Ames. And if we look down at the bottom, there's a photograph in his United States uniform.

GUEST:
Union blue.

APPRAISER:
Right, so up until the war starts, he was fairly proud to be a United States Naval officer.

GUEST:
Absolutely.

APPRAISER:
But then obviously something changed. He decided to follow his state into the war.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
In two separate places on it, we'll notice that he has actually had a jeweler engrave his name, and he's had the jeweler put the initials for the Confederate States Navy, which is CSN. And I think what he's basically doing is he's saying, "Okay, even if I have to carry this sword that I wore in the United States Navy, in my own way, I'm going to make it Confederate." And at the top, we have this really kind of fun image of him as an older man, proud to be in his Confederate uniform. Swords and stuff really are inanimate objects, and what really animates it is the history. So having his name on there tells us unequivocally that that is his sword. And then we can put a face to the owner, as well as speak with someone from the family. Now, there is one thing that I'll tell you. The sword is in the scabbard backwards.

GUEST:
I had noticed it did not fit well. It has been this way since I acquired it in 1987.

APPRAISER:
It's taken that shape now, and that's the way that this leather is going to want to rest, so it would be a mistake to try to reverse it. So really what we're dealing with is a sword that, without any of the provenance and without the inscription, in that kind of condition, retail price would be around $3,000 or $4,000.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
But because of who he is, I think a retail price for these items as a group would be $20,000.

GUEST:
Very nice.

APPRAISER:
It's a nice thing, and you don't encounter Confederate naval objects very often.

GUEST:
So many, when they captured a ship, would be scuttled and sunk, therefore, no artifacts.

APPRAISER:
Or the swords are surrendered, exactly.

Appraisal Details

Appraised value (2013)
$20,000 Retail
Event
Richmond, VA (August 17, 2013)
Form
Portrait, Sword
Material
Leather, Metal

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.