Posted September 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.

My neighbor wants to sell these Matthew Brady framed photos. We don’t know where to start, found your name online so we start with you.

JS: Your two Civil War albumin photographs appear in very fine condition. The captions state that they are images used in the well-known Miller's The Photographic History of the Civil War (1911). Albumin paper photography made from glass-plate negatives from the Civil War Era is quite common, and small-format cartes de visite (CDVs) of soldiers can sell for as little as $10. Large-format photography with interesting content can be quite valuable.

Matthew Brady Civil War photo of the USS Saugus, with the photo of troops before battle, their value is $2,000-$3,000.

The image of the USS Saugus clearly shows a Dahlgren Boat Howitzer on the deck forward of the gun turret with crews standing about on the deck. Photographs of ironclads are not common, and this is a well-known monitor. Among the most famous pictures related to the Saugus is an April 1865 photograph taken by Alexander Gardner of the later hanged Lincoln conspirator Louis Payne, who is sitting against the gun turret.

The other image shows a six-gun field battery with full accompaniment of mounted troops and caissons. The caption on this image states it was prior to the Battle of Chancellorsville, Va., but the image appears to be in the sandy coastal South.

I can find neither of these exact images priced or previously sold with a quick search. Similar-sized, interesting images sold by specialist photographic auctions like Swann's in NYC, Cowan's in Cincinnati and Heritage in Dallas, generally with pre-sale estimate of less than $1,000 seem to average between $2,000 and $3,000. 

I am contacting you regarding two Confederate states loan certificates that I recently found. These items are not the bond documents which have coupons attached, but rather, they have different amounts written in (one is $400, and one is $1,000), and they indicate that the loans paid 8% per year over a five-year or 10-year period. They are dated 1862 and 1863. I have found very many similar documents that have the coupons and preprinted amounts, but I have been unable to locate many like these. The Virginia historical society does have an image on their site which shows one very much like I have. I am interested in obtaining an initial assessment of whether these items carry much potential value.

JS: Your two "loan certificates" are better known as Confederate bonds. There are several reference books that break them down into many subtypes. The original 1961 reference on the subject is by Grover Criswell, Confederate and Southern States Bonds, and his reference numbers are most commonly used, though there are more recent publications.

As you noted, many bonds had coupons that were clipped when interest was due. This type of bond is noted by Criswell as a stock certificate. There are four different borders known on your $400 certificate with a vignette of a sailing ship. This is referenced by Criswell as CR106 from a total of 175 different types. There were 13,284 of this particular stock certificate issued in varying amounts.

This certificate was printed by Hoyer & Ludwig in Richmond, Va. The other versions of this particular bond were published by J.T. Patterson & Co., Columbia, S.C. Your other stock certificate (CR126) with the vignette of a reclining figure with charts and globe is a labor issue, as you can see in the right-hand border stating it was from the Confederate Treasury Act of February 20, 1863. This particular certificate was printed by Evans & Cogswell, Columbia, S.C. There were 6,381 of this certificate issued.

Both of your certificates appear in good overall condition, though the CR106 appears to be cracked at several folds with soiling and damage to edges, and it will sell for less than the CR126. These certificates are among the most common of Confederate bonds with retail values between $100 and $200 each.

I have a few items that were handed down to me from my grandfather. My grandpa was a collector of anything military. The first item that I have is a 7th Indiana Calvary recruitment poster. The poster itself is in very good condition. It appears to have original writing on it where it says the location. The second item I have is a Jesse James wanted poster. I am not sure of the value of either of these.

JS: Civil War posters are most typically known in the book world as “broadsides” as is the "Wanted" poster. Original 19th century broadsides for recruiting Civil War soldiers and "Wanted" posters for famous outlaws are quite valuable but are highly reproduced. Your two posters both appear to be of this latter type being reproductions. An original Jesse James wanted poster would bring easily in excess of $20,000, and there has not been a real one I am aware of in many years on the market.

The version you have is actually not even a copy of an original; it is a fantasy piece probably made originally in the 1950s and still produced. Civil War posters typically sell from about $1,000 to several thousand dollars, depending on aesthetics, size and unit. James D. Julia Auctions sold a fine grouping from the Norm Flayderman Collection in the summer of 2014 that had prices ranging as high as $15,000 for a rare example.

Reproduction posters such as these are commonly encountered as decorator items. They are sometimes sold for several hundred dollars or much more "as is" to unknowledgeable buyers at auction or in antique markets, though such reproductions really have only nominal collector value.

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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