Posted March 2016

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 mother-in-law passed away last week in Augusta. We discovered a Confederate battle flag, approximately 29 x 29 inches. Does this have any value? Also, there is what appears to be a sewed collection of ribbons, 14 x 14.

JS: Your flag and ribbons appear to be dated to circa 1880. Early authentic Confederate reunion era sewn flags are quite scarce and have sold for a broad range of prices over the years. There are numerous newly made flags sold as reunion era, most with unit designations. Many have been sold in online auctions for several hundred dollars to about a thousand dollars. The plethora of such items has hurt the market on legitimate ones, as yours appears to be from the photos, especially since it is associated with the pillow top that is embroidered with Georgia Confederate reunion ribbons. The ribbons and flag would have a presale estimate in auction for $2,000-$3,000 in my opinion and could bring more, as single, scarce ribbons have sold for several hundred dollars in past, although reunion memorabilia is less than the peak 5-10 years ago. 

I recently traded for this knife. I have never seen a Boyle Gamble & McAfee knife like this, fake or real. I would appreciate any help you could offer as to authenticity. It came from a long-term trader in Tennessee.

I, too, am a long-time collector and had pickers coming to my house long before the TV program. I collect antique guns, Indian memorabilia, very high-end toys, watches, tools and other things. I am a retired physician, age 80, so I have been playing this game a long time. Probably my best find was the gun that killed Jessie James. The last time it sold, it brought $1.2 million. Must have been right.

JS: This knife appears to be one of numerous fakes and forgeries found at flea markets and for sale on Internet. There are no knives made by Boyle & Gamble of Richmond, Virginia, of this type. Your knife actually more resembles in style a knife from the 20th century, a more popular design today, and not that of typical 19th century.

I was wondering if you could possibly shed some light on an antique that my family has had for a few years now. I found this at an auction in early 2012. It was covered in dust and bird poop. It look like it had been stored in a barn. We believe it to be a Civil War field desk. From what we've seen/researched, it is a lot larger than other desks we've seen—too large for an officer. We thought that maybe it is a regimental field desk? There are faded markings in black on the front.

The top says "J Kilby - 4th Va." After much research, we found that there was a James Kilby in the 4th Virginia Cavalry during the war; although from what I've seen, he was only ever listed as a private. The markings on the bottom of the front of the desk say, "C32 - O.S.T." We have never been able to find out what these markings mean. My father thought that possibly "O.S.T." would stand for "Ordinance, Supply and Tack," if it indeed was a regimental desk for cavalry. However, we have never found anything to corroborate this. We do not have any provenance to this item, and we unfortunately never will since it was purchased at an auction. However, could you please give us your impression of this item and if possible, what you think those markings may mean? I have contacted numerous museums, and nobody has been able to tell me what they might mean.

JS: Your field desk is of the type used during the Civil War Era with many identified examples known. I did find a Capt. John T. Kilby as an original member of the 4th Virginia artillery in 1861. He later was a surgeon in several regiments, including the 3rd Georgia Infantry and the 9th Virginia Infantry as well as being a surgeon in several Richmond hospitals. This could account possibly for the name, but I have no idea of the other markings or meaning. You can find Civil War Era "traveling" field desks of this type sold in antique world for a few hundred dollars. 

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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