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 seantiquing@go-star.com 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.

I have recently come across this medal from Fort Sumter. I am looking to sell this piece. You were recommended to me by a lady from the Drummer Boy Museum of Georgia. How much do you think that a piece like this could go for?

J.S.: Your medal is a scarce Civil War medal awarded by General Quincy Gillmore to certain soldiers in his command and known as the "Gillmore Medal." The medal's obverse is captioned, "Fort Sumter / August 23d 1863" and shows the once formidable structure reduced to rubble after several days of well-directed federal bombardment. Interestingly for a Union medal, high magnification reveals the Confederate national colors still flying defiantly above Sumter's battered ramparts.

Gillmore Medal awarded for gallantry at the
bombardment of Fort Sumter, $500-$1,000.

A complete and inscribed Gillmore Medal like this one can sell for $5,000+.

The reverse perimeter legend, "For Gallant and Meritorious Conduct," encircles a central proclamation reading, "Presented by Q. A. Gillmore Maj. Genl." A military engineer trained at West Point, Major General Quincy Adams Gillmore made a gallant effort to capture Charleston, South Carolina. To achieve that goal, he tried neutralizing the city's defenses with all of the considerable firepower at his disposal. The courage and devotion to duty demonstrated by Gillmore's men were not unnoticed, and the general had some 400 medals for valor privately issued under his own name by the New York firm of Ball, Black & Co.

Unfortunately, your medal is missing the top bar (which is attached by a claw-type catch) that had the inscription with soldier's name. I have seen several of these medals missing this part before, and they are typically priced about $500-$1,000.

The last complete medal I know of was sold by Leland Little Auction Company in Hillsborough, N.C., Sept 17, 2011 for $3,200. Their medal pictured here shows a complete top bar with the name inscribed, "G. E. Hazen, 3rd Rhode Island Artillery." These medals in past have sold for more than $5,000, based on the soldier's history. 


I have a diary from late in the Civil War that references a baseball game and other events. What do you think it is worth?

J.S.: Your late war diary has interesting snippets, including news of Lincoln's death and Booth's death. Generally, late-war diaries with only 40 pages in pencil and no great battle content sell for $200-$300 in average/very good condition as yours is.

The entry concerning baseball is excellent, however, and I'd bet this would sell better in a baseball collector's arena at a higher level than the amount I quoted for the military collector's world. I can find no diaries concerning baseball during the Civil War, especially between the professional team in Washington and a soldier's team. I feel in a baseball ephemera auction this diary could easily bring multiples of the $200-$300 estimate for just another late-war Yankee diary. 


I have what looks to be an old blade in good condition. The blade is marked with a running fox, the letters “TR” inside the body of the fox. The same mark is found on the inside of the D-guard.

J.S.: At first glance, this knife appears to be a Civil War Confederate D-guard Bowie knife, and indeed, it is made in that style. However, it was actually made quite recently by a modern custom knife maker, Tim Ridge, who uses the trademark “TR” inside the body of a fox. Mr. Ridge's business is called Swamp Fox Knives, and he has a website offering excellent historical reproduction knives and other vintage reproductions for use by reenactors or others interested in "living history."

A reproduction of a Confederate D-guard Bowie knife that could pass for the real thing.

This knife is not made to fool anybody since Mr. Ridge boldly stamps his trademark on the blade and guard of this knife, which was probably made for a Confederate reenactor. There are many knives of several genres offered on his website for an average of about $200-$300 each which, based on prices of other custom knife makers, seems quite reasonable. SwampFoxKnives.com is the website of this contemporary master historical knife maker. 


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 www.CivilWarDealer.com. If you have a Civil War item for him to appraise, email a photo and a description to seantiquing@go-star.com .

 

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