Posted May 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.

Looking through my parents’ belongings, I found a print that was given to my grandfather who was a newspaperman for the Brooklyn Eagle. There is a label on the back of the photo that says it was one of 50 prints of the Matthew Brady photo. I feel that the photo presented was authentic since it was found with other artifacts of my grandfather’s that had been boxed away for more than 50 years.

I am enclosing an image of the photo and the typed inscription on the back of the frame. I haven't opened the frame to look at the image but wanted to see if this was a unique print since I don't see it online at all.

JS: This is indeed an interesting image which I have not seen before. It appears to be a copy of an original piece of art or possibly even the original. It is not a photograph. The art is reminiscent of several different images published in periodicals of the day such as Harper's Weekly or Leslie's. There were no photographers actually at the surrender scene, though many paintings and prints of Lee and Grant at Appomattox are known with several of them shaking hands.

The typed label on verso is incorrect. It was probably done well after the fact as daguerreotype photography was already outdated by the time of the Civil War, and Matthew Brady at this time was using glass plate negatives to make albumin photography. Regardless, it is an interesting image and no doubt 19th century or early 20th century. Similar prints of the era are in a wide range of prices, depending on the venue, for up to several hundred dollars.

I found you online while searching information about an awesome find today. My husband and I were visiting my sister in Connecticut today, and we got out our metal detector. We found this belt plate and some loops that go with it about 12 inches under the ground. There is a lot of corrosion on the wreath part of it, but the plate is in good shape. There is still a small piece of the leather intact, too. I was wondering if you could tell us what you know about this. Thanks and can't wait to hear from you.

JS: Your buckle is a US Model 1850 sword belt plate. The corrosion under the eagle is remnants of an applied soldered wreath. This particular plate is the most commonly encountered of Civil War enlisted cavalry issue belt buckles. It is most interesting that the entire belt was still there when lost. The keeper for buckle and the "D" rings attached the sword hangers. Most likely, there is a bench mark number matching on the keeper and the reverse edge of the buckle under the fragment of leather that remains. Similar buckles in the same excavated condition with matching keeper found in Civil War camps have sold for $250-$300.

Dear Mr. Sexton, our family has passed down a "Yankee" sword which was from a distant relative who was a messenger for George McClellan at Antietam. I hope you can give me some information about it and its worth.

JS: This sword dates to circa 1860 and is known as a "militia staff." The cruciform "bowtie"-shaped cross guard was popular in America starting in the 1830s, and the addition of the patriotic shield started about 1860 on the central languet. This type of sword was often carried by pre-war militia officers, both North and South, and is often seen in early war or pre-war photographs or paintings.

The "J. Lambert, Phila" marking on the scabbard throat represents “Joseph Lambert” who was a Philadelphia agent for military goods as early as 1839 and on through the Civil War. This particular pattern sword is quite common, but yours is a better-than-average example with a complete maker marked scabbard which will bring a premium. This sword should sell for about $500 in the Civil War market. 

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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