Confederate Belt Buckle, ca. 1861

Value (2004) | $4,500 Retail

Well, I found it about 40 years ago in my great-grandfather's house in an old trunk up in the attic. It was broken, and I didn't figure it was worth a whole lot.

Well, what it is, is a Confederate States belt buckle-- Confederate, Civil War buckle. We have the letters "CS" on the front of the buckle. And did he serve North or South?

He served in the North.

Well, surprisingly, that happens fairly often. The soldiers would want something to take home as the spoils of war that you hear about. And you mentioned that it was broken. Uh, and on the back of the buckle it has two of the original three hooks. The buckle is made of stamped brass, which is a very quick way to manufacture buckles. They had to have these buckles in the field. They didn't have time to nicely finish every corner, and what they did, they took the scraps of brass left over from stamping the buckles and they'd make the hooks. If you notice that the two hooks that we have are made of that scrap brass. The Union buckles, you have the stamped face, but they went in and they lead-filled that back to make it more sturdy, last longer; but these-- necessity overran craftsmanship. This is the style that's actually called the regulation style-- a simple border around it made of the stamped brass. Have you ever had anybody give you a value on it?

No, I don't figure it's worth a whole lot, because it is broken.

What would you guess?

Well, I figured, you know, stretching it, maybe $50.

Even with the hook being gone, it would still probably bring about $4,500.

Oh, jeez! Excuse me.

Because condition is everything when you get to that price level. With the other hook, this buckle would easily bring $6,000 to $6,500. But it's a beautiful belt buckle and it's one that any Civil War collector, North or South, would love to have in their collection.

Goodness. I shouldn't polish it, then?

No. I love this color. It's nice and rich. You've got 140 years worth of history on it, and every time you clean a piece, you take that history off of it. So leave it just like that.

The kids are going to have trouble deciding who's going to get it.

Appraisal Details

Shiloh Civil War Relics
Savannah, TN
Appraised value (2004)
$4,500 Retail
Memphis, TN (July 31, 2004)

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