Posted April 2014

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.

Dear John, I stumbled across your website whilst trying to research two sabers I have recently acquired here in England. I am an antique furniture dealer based in the U.K. and was passed a pair of what I think are Confederate sabers from someone selling off their grandparent's estate. The have apparently been stored in an attic for 80+ years and are both complete with scabbards. I have contacted a few other dealers in the U.S., but none have been able to assist identifying them.

Would you mind if I sent you some emails with images attached and details of the markings, to try and help identify them and give an indication of value? Many thanks in advance, G.S., Wiltshire, England

Possibly Ames sabers found in an estate sale in England.

 JS: Well, as you know, both of your sabers are typical to what was used in America during the Civil War. However, neither sword is Confederate. Classic Confederate features include brass-mounted scabbards with solder or braised bodies. Rarely do Confederate blades have ricassos that are stopped like European and American-made sabers.

Your scabbard without pins in the throat appears much like those manufactured by Ames in Massachusetts. Unmarked cavalries are quite common to the market here in the U.S. and typically sell in auction for $300-$400. 

Hello, John! I have a question about a coin that has been in my possession since I was very young. Here is a list of what I know about it: gold (as far as I can tell); the size of a dime; 1861 is on heads; 13 stars around the edge; Lady Liberty is on heads; "MI" is inscribed on tails inside in an oblong, open circle; outer edge of coin is ridged; and it was made to be a pendant. I have attached pictures of the coin. Can you let me know if it is really from the Civil War? From my research, all I can find is that it may have been a love token.

A golden love token, probably from the late Victorian Era.

JS: Your coin is indeed gold and started out life as an American 2 1/2 dollars gold piece. Coins in that year were made in several mints, including Dahlonega, Ga., Charlotte, N.C., and New Orleans, which are all desirable American gold coins, especially in high grades. Your coin, as you noted, is often referred to as a love token. One side of the coin was filed down, and initials of a loved one were added. The style of the initials is typical of the late Victorian Era and could date from the Civil War, but possibly and most likely, it is later. The intrinsic gold in your coin/token has a value of about $250, and that is typically about all it will bring in this market.

I've owned this compass for about 20 years. Purchased it at a NYC flea market. An estimated value range would be appreciated. It is a Brinton compass with these markings: C.S.A., Ross Evans, London, MK1, 1862. Has a hinge at the top and bottom. Underside has an armature which controls a range finder inside the compass. All heavy metal; the mirror and glass are intact. "Ross Evans" and "London" are in script on the face of the dial. The mirror has a line down the center to align with N-S. Small circle allows light through the top, perhaps. No significant damage. Patina intact.

JS: Your compass, I hate to tell you, is a modern reproduction made in India that is seen at flea markets or similar venues with all kinds of spurious "historical markings." Your compass is not even a type made in the Civil War but a copy of a 20th century British military marching compass made originally by Brunton. Always be careful of mundane brass objects with "CSA" stamped on them. At flea market-type venues or on the web, you will find guns that have little value and also reproductions of a variety of badges and buckles with "CSA" on them, usually marked with various dates and identification. I found several other fake Brunton-style compasses listed on eBay for $20 and up with other spurious markings. (Note the maker is even misspelled on this fake "Brinton." 

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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