Posted May 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.

This Ulysses S. Grant photo was given to be by my good friend who has passed away. It says Grant and his staff are standing on Lookout Point on Lookout Mountain, Tenn., in May 1863. It was purchased by his grandparents on May 9, 1900.

JS: Your photo is a form of photograph known as a cabinet card. This style of photography was popular in the late 19th century, and this particular photograph was sold as a souvenir on Lookout Mountain in 1900, as stated in the inscription on the back of card. The original photograph was taken in 1863, and this view is a photographic copy. There are many views taken by a particular photographer on this overlook on Lookout Mountain, including several with U.S. Grant who was said to have observed part of the "Battle in the Skies" from this vantage point. Similar cabinet cards sell for about $200. 

John, I happened to come across your website for appraisals of Civil War items. Recently, my parents passed away, and my father has a sword that he told me was from the Civil War, and it was Confederate. I was looking online and came across a description and pictures of what appears to be what my father has, a Boyle & Gamble foot officer sword with a scarce metal scabbard.

Also, here's a picture of a canteen and another item.

JS: Your sword is indeed of the Civil War Era and could easily have been carried by a Confederate officer, but just as easily by a Union officer. It is not made in the Confederacy, but appears to be an import from either France or Germany for the American market. The pattern of your sword is a US model 1850 foot officerís sword, which was regulation both for U.S. and C.S. for a company grade officer. Since the blade etch shows no specific American motifs, we can't say for sure it was Union, but Confederate-used import foot swords are most unusual, and we don't have an ironclad ID. Regardless, this is a nice example of an "as found" regulation foot officer's sword with the original silk sash tied to the hilt, as is often found among surviving swords. The blade etch appears still bright with some luster. The sharkskin grip and twisted-wire wrap appear in fine condition. The scabbard is complete, showing just a few bends and weaknesses and leather body, but the brass mounts are complete and well fit with matching patina to the sword hilt. This sword and sash, if I was estimating for auction, I would give it a presale estimate of $800-$1,200 and expected to sell in that range.

Your canteen is a regulation Civil War Era "bull's-eye" pewter throat. The cloth cover looks a bit unusual and light and may be added (could possibly have been used by reenactor); however, it could be original. If it is original, the canteen and strap will sell for about $300.

The powder flask is for a shotgun; there were numerous makers and types dating between 1850 and1870. A similar flask with good varnish like this one will retail for about $75, unless it has some special makerís mark.

An imported US model 1850 foot officerís
sword with scabbard and sash, $800-$1,200.

"Bullís eye" pewter throat canteen, $300, and
an 1850-1870 shotgun powder flask, $75.

I found this rifle in a barn sale. The barrel and lock plate are quite rusty, and the barrel is 30 inches long. All fittings are brass. There is a number (T-Y1207) stamped into the butt plate. Would you be able to give me more information on this rifle?

JS: Your gun is certainly English, based on a pattern 1839 or earlier. Based on close-ups sent of the lockplate, this gun appears to have originally been a flintlock and converted to percussion. The conversion appears to be a braised bolster breech, which is typical of work done on American guns at the beginning of the Civil War. The 30-inch barrel suggests this is some sort of non-regulation "Miners and Sappers," militia or constabulary gun. English contractors exported guns worldwide and were major arms merchants. The lack of visible markings on the barrel or lock makes it difficult to ascertain any history or possible use of this weapon. The gun appears to be fairly complete though missing hammer and ramrod, which could be restored. Similar, complete English militia rifles of this era sell between about $500-$1,000. I would expect your incomplete gun to fetch $100-$300 in auction. 

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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