Posted November 2007
See more articles from the Civil War Collector

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.

Q: This buckle was found in Camden, Arkansas underneath an old Confederate Hospital. What can you tell me about it?  

JS: What an unusual relic. I am guessing it is about 2.5 inches or so to fit a standard Civil War Era belt. I have never seen this identical artifact, but I would guess it fit on a sword belt and acted as a hanger. I have seen similar shaped snake-headed sword hooks that were sewn to leather and were probably Confederate made. These seem to be found in the Western Theatre of War like yours. My guess is that the belt passed through this device, and the curved snake's tail held the sword ring. Similar artifacts, though rare, only sell for a few hundred dollars as a novelty. I doubt many were made, and I would love to see a whole belt set up with this style of decorated hangers.

Q: Hi John, this Civil War saber was handed down in the family. The relative's last name was Myers. The marking appears to read, "USA D.R. 863." Possibly the 863 was 1863? I don't know anything about it and am looking forward to your comments.

JS: Nice, honest untouched model 1860 cavalry saber. It was made in 1863 by N. P. Ames, Chicopee, Mass. The inspector "D.R." I believe is D. Reynolds.

Don't clean it, but put some oil on blade to reduce the rust. Your sword should sell for $700-$900 if the blade is not pitted too badly under that rust.

Q: Hi, John. I have a Civil War rifle my father owned, and when he passed away, I became the owner. Here are some photos of the rifle. Can you tell me anything about it? Also, what would the value be? Thanks for your time on this matter.

JS: Your gun is a model 1863 type 2 rifled musket. Yours appears average overall and complete with a bayonet. This gun would probably be priced at about $1,200-$1,500 at a Civil War show.

Q: I was hoping to ask your opinion about a belt buckle I have. I was told it was from a seaman during the Civil War, but I have my doubts. The metal looks like brass covered copper and the only mark is a little anchor. I have attached pictures. Any info you could give me would be appreciated.

JS: Your buckle appears to have some age, but it is not a 19th century pattern I know. It could be naval because of the small anchor marking, but for what country or era or use, I do not know.

A reader sent in this comment: If no one has mentioned it yet, the alembic-looking, leather-covered thing (first mentioned in the September issue) is a porron, a Spanish drinking vessel. It is generally used like a glass version of the bota (a leather drinking bag). Fill it with cheap wine and pour the stuff into your mouth from the small end. When you can no longer hit your mouth, that's a good sign that you should stop drinking. The leather-covered ones are generally non-functional designer junk from the swinging 1960s.

Ed: Our thanks to Peter Conrad for ID'ing this (until now) unknown object. However, I still don't think this is a Civil War item.




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