James Pollard Civil War Ephemera
You brought in a pile of stuff here that relates to one of your ancestors. What can you tell me about this?
Well, this guy's name was James Pollard. He was with the New York volunteers under Colonel Sorrel during the Civil War. They were engineers, and he was also a battle line sketch artist and traveled up and down the Eastern Seaboard, from Pennsylvania down to Florida.
How long was he in the war?
I think he saw the most part of the war. He was discharged at one point, and then he reenlisted and went back in and was in there another two, three years.
Yeah, so he was in almost the entire Civil War then.
Yeah, pretty much.
I find this collection really fascinating. There are 16 letters written home to his family, and then there are how many drawings?
53 drawings, and not... not all of them look like this. There are some pencil sketches and then some inks and some ones that have been hand-colored. The Civil War is the first war where the majority of combatants on both sides were literate, and you see Civil War letters sometimes are embellished by a soldier with drawings of camps or scenes in his camp life. But this guy, you can tell that he started off as a sketch artist, and then he got better and more precise as he went along in his career in the military. And I did a little bit of checking. He was actually promoted in 1864 to the title of artificer-- a-r-t-i-f-i-c-e-r. Individual Civil War drawings and individual art of Civil War soldiers can range in value from a few hundred to several thousand. We've got 53 drawings here of varying quality, plus the letters, plus we've got pictures of him, plus you've got his discharge papers. It's a great group of stuff. I think there's probably $10,000 to $15,000 on the low side here. It's a great collection, and I'm glad to see you're protecting them in these acid-free sleeves. If there were more battlefield scenes and that sort of thing, it would be worth a lot more.
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.