Posted August 2015

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.

John, attached are pictures of some medical instruments, which I was told were Civil War Era. Could you please tell me if this is true? If so, what is their estimated value?

JS: Most of your tools do indeed appear to be Civil War Era surgical tools. I recognize several of the tools, including the male catheters, which are the curved silver instruments. These rigid tools show up as early as the 1860s but were prominently used after the Civil War until replaced by more comfortable, flexible devices. The pliers-like tools appear to be dental extraction instruments of the Victorian Era. A few of the tools appear to be woodworking tools, but I've seen tools for scoring bone that look like they came out of a carpenter's kit. There is no doubt you can go online and research various surgical tools and identify most of these.

These tools are seen often in various antique venues typically priced from about $20 to $100 per tool. Occasionally, groups come up in auction in similar condition in the lower part of this range. Medical tool collectors prefer tools in near pristine condition and cased. Still, an interesting large group for which a dealer would probably pay several hundred dollars.

Attached are photos of a canteen and a 14th Regiment canvas backpack. The canteen, I am told, is from the Kravic Collection. I'm curious to know if these items are authentic and what the appraisal would be on these items.

JS: These two items date from the American Federal Period (post Revolution and prior to the War of 1812). The knapsack panel with 14th Regiment markings appears original but not a lot of value as it is only a piece of canvas with some militia markings. Complete knapsacks can sell for more than $1,000 with similar marks. This panel will probably bring a few hundred dollars at an antique show.

Part of a 14th Regiment canvas knapsack,
$300 or more.

Possibly a Revolutionary
War canteen, $500-$1,000.

The canteen is a much more interesting item as it has emulated markings of a rare Revolutionary War canteen. The Eagle and "U States" markings appear carved possibly, and the paint applied does not appear original in photographs, but I am not actually handling your object. If the markings are original and correct, this would be a valuable collectible. Revolutionary War Era canteens such as this with no markings typically sell between $500 and $1,000. As far as marketing, the canteen could be sold in auction as is, and the bidders would determine if it is original by the price realized.

JS: This is a very nice, non-regulation, imported Civil War staff officer sword. It has a few deluxe features, including engraved scabbard mounts with large US on the top mount and a large US above a spread-wing eagle cut out in the pierced work of the hilt. The grip is spiral sheet silver with either silver wire or silver-plated wire.

A presentation on the reverse of top mount reads, "presented to Capt. Alfred Dunham Feby 22nd 1863 by members of Company A 112th Regt NY Vols." Alfred Dunham has an interesting war history having enlisted on 8/8/1862 at Jamestown, N.Y., as a 1st lieutenant. On 10/27/1862, he was commissioned into "A" Co. Later, he was promoted to captain in January 1863 about a month before his men gave him this sword. He was wounded on 10/27/1864 at the Battle of Darbytown Road, Va., and was later promoted to lieutenant colonel on 1/18/1865. He was mustered out on 6/13/1865 at Raleigh, N.C.

The 112th lost more than 100 men killed and wounded during the war, and including disease, had casualties of 300+. Interesting history always adds to the value of Civil War swords, especially if they are in such find condition as this one displaying much remaining gold plating to brass scabbard mounts and hilt. The scabbard body also retains much of its original bright blue finish, and the blade shows much of its original luster with bright etched patriotic panels, which makes it a very aesthetically pleasing American Civil War sword.

Similar swords are seen in auction typically estimated $4,000-$6,000 with prices realized in a broad range. As you stated, you wish to know a value to insure this for, and I would insure it for a retail replacement value of $7,500.

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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