Posted February 2017

If you have a Civil War item that you can't identify or something you want to know the value of, contact John (mail: Box 510, Acworth, GA 30101; email John at with Civil War in the subject line or call 770-329-4984 or 770-974-6495). John needs a good description of the item, condition, manufacturer's marks and any other markings, and photos. Please Note: All questions MUST be accompanied with a Photo, it should not be more than 200k in file size.

My father passed away two years ago, and I found this in a box in my closet when I was moving. It is a large pewter grapevine candlestick holder with an inscription saying, "Presented to Major Kerr by the officers and men of No. 4 Company 14th Battalion Volunteer Rifles as a mark of the high respect and esteem in which he was held by them while the company was under his command, Kingston March 1866.” Any idea if this is worth anything?

JS: When I first viewed your photos, the quality and gilt details appeared as sterling, but your photos do prove it is pewter. This unit is a most interesting militia unit, first known as the “Princess of Wales Own Regiment.” I am not sure who Major Kerr was, but that is understandable since lots of militia records are sparse in that era. The regiment was created on 16 January 1863 as the “14th Battalion Volunteer Militia Rifles of Canada” from the amalgamation of Kingston, Ontario’s seven independent rifle companies.

On March 18, 1866, the company was called out in response to possible attacks by “Fenians” from America. The Fenians were a secret society of Irish patriots who had emigrated from Ireland to the United States. Their goal was to capture Canada and trade it back to Britain for Irish independence. From 1866 to 1871, the Fenians launched a series of small, armed incursions into Canada; each of which was put down by government forces, including actions of militias like this one here—at the cost of dozens killed and wounded on both sides. Many of the Fenians were Civil War veterans who were battle-hardened. Much has been published on this fringe group. The Canadians were well prepared for them so little action happened toward their goal.

Your presentation candlesticks, in the opinion of well-respected New England dealer Robert French of Portland, Me., are valued at $700-$1,000 in the U.S. and possible a premium in the Canadian or U.K. markets. 

I have attached pics of buckles purchased at auction. Have been unable to determine their authenticity. Can you shed any light on whether they are real or not and what their value might be?

JS: These two buckles are both 20th century reproductions. During the Civil War Centennial, they cost about $5. They are still being made, and many are over 50 years old now. They show up in flea markets and other venues and are sold as originals. They can still be found new for about $10 from dealers who sell reenactment gear. 

A family friend is interested in selling his 1840 US Calvary saber with scabbard. Sword markings: Horstmann’s, Phila, N.J. Scabbard markings: C.P and S&K. Total length of two together: 41 inches and no pitting. Well-maintained over the years. The blade’s length is 35 inches; it has a bronze (brass) handle with gilt wire, wrapped hilt, leather covered. Any advice or opinions on this sword would be much appreciated.

JS: Your saber is a German import sold by Horstmann of Philadelphia. Horstmann was a large supplier of military goods during the Civil War. The "NJ" marks on the ricasso show ownership by the State of New Jersey. The marking below the “Horstmann's” mark is for Weyersburg of Solingen who made the sword. The S&K markings on the drag are for Schnitzler & Kirschbaum, a Solingen German cutler. The “C.P.” is possibly an inspector with whom I am not familiar. Originally, the sword and scabbard would have been made by the same company when first imported, but scabbards interchange, and cavalry sabers often have mismatched parts over the years. Regardless, this is a nice example with scarce NJ marks that add a small premium. The current market in auction for import model 1840 cavalries is about $400.

I have a War of 1812 Survivor Pension document for a Private Thurlow Weed of Capt. Nathan Seward's company of a NY militia. The pension was not issued until 1871. Does this document have any value?

JS: It is a neat bureaucratic document, but it has little real value.

John Sexton is an independent appraiser and expert of Civil War memorabilia. He is an accredited member of various appraiser organizations. He can be contacted at 770-329-4984 or If you have a Civil War item for him to appraise, email a photo and a description to .




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