Confederate Sword by Thomas Leech & Company, ca. 1861

Value (2004) | $7,000 Retail

GUEST:
This is a sword that belonged to my great-great-great-grandfather. He was in the Mississippi cavalry in the Civil War. And I'm real curious, first of all, to authenticate it and also to see what it might be worth.

APPRAISER:
It is 100% original.

GUEST:
Oh, great.

APPRAISER:
In the field of Civil War collecting, these are the magic letters. When you have "CS" in the guard, that stands for "Confederate States." To a collector, that's what you want to see.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
And he evidently was an officer, because this is the staff and field officer's version because of the letters. They call this a floating CS. It's a brass guard. The guard was cast, then they applied the letters to it.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
The sword itself was made right here in Memphis.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
There was a firm called Thomas Leech & Company, also known as the Memphis Novelty Works Company. Before the war, they made a lot of odds and ends, farm implements, that type of thing. Very famous company in Civil War collecting.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
A lot of people will look at a sword like this and think... the blade's rusty.

GUEST:
Certainly.

APPRAISER:
The grip originally had wire, the wire's missing. The tip, broken off.

GUEST:
Oh, it is?

APPRAISER:
And a lot of people will say, "It's just an old, rusted sword." But it's the history that goes with the sword, not so much the condition of the sword.

GUEST:
I thought maybe I should have cleaned this up. But was it better to not do anything?

APPRAISER:
I'm glad you didn't, because there are a lot of reproductions of this sword. They manufactured quite a few reproductions of them. This one's not, but when you get into the cleaning aspect of it and the polishing, it all sends up a red flag that maybe they're covering up something.

GUEST:
Oh, okay.

APPRAISER:
So if you leave it just like this you might want to take some good gun oil and rub down the blade, don't polish it.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
But to a collector, it's a beautiful piece. There are a lot of these swords that are in the attics, in the barns and they need to get out there and see what they are. Because you never can tell when you're going to have a gem that doesn't look like a gem.

GUEST:
So how much of a gem is it?

APPRAISER:
Well, if I was going to insure it, I'd want to put $7,000 on it.

GUEST:
Wow. (both laugh) Okay. I've got chill bumps now. (both laugh)

APPRAISER:
It had a leather scabbard. If it had that, with the floating "CS," that's a $25,000 sword.

GUEST:
Whoa.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Shiloh Civil War Relics
Savannah, TN
Appraised value (2004)
$7,000 Retail
Event
Memphis, TN (July 31, 2004)
Form
Sword
Material
Metal

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