Posted December 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.

Dear John, several years ago, I inherited a sword from my uncle. I think it is real just because my uncle was fairly wealthy and collected nice items. I remember seeing it at his house when our family visited him in 1960. But, I really have don’t know if it is authentic. It looks identical to one I found on a popular Civil War website. It has a “C” and “S” cast into the quillon (cross guard) on both sides. There is no maker’s/manufacturer’s mark on the sword. It is very heavy, 3.18 lbs. The blade is 18.5 inches long, and it is pretty darn sharp.

Would you take a look at the attached photos and let me know if you spot any obvious signs of it being fake? If not, what do you think it might be worth?

JS: Your uncle left you a very nice Confederate relic. This particular pattern of Confederate short sword is fashioned after a US model 1832 short artillery sword. The pattern dates back to Roman times and was readopted in modern warfare by the French in the early 19th century. The purpose of this sword for an artilleryman was to protect his position as a last-ditch measure against cavalry attacks. This short sword theoretically could be used not only against a mounted horsemen but against the belly of a horse charging your position. This sword was standard issue in the U.S. Army from 1832 through the end of the Civil War, though very rarely used in combat.

At the beginning of the Civil War, the Confederates made several patterns of this short sword, more to be used as a large knife in hand-to-hand combat—or that's what many young Confederates thought. Early in the war, Confederate soldiers thought they would be disemboweling their Yankee foes with such big knives! However, those dreams of fighting with these short swords was short-lived. They were quite heavy, and after the first year of the war, soldiers pretty much decided they didn't need them and didn’t want to march many miles carrying this extra four pounds of weight.

These knives and short swords were popular souvenirs taken home by Union soldiers after several of the first battles, as seen in museums and collections with wonderful old tags telling where they were picked up.

There are a dozen or so distinct manufacturers of Confederate short swords, this one being among the most massive and among the few patterns marked "CS" and the only pattern with a raised "CS" in relief in the cross guard. This pattern is reproduced and faked, as are many other Confederate swords are, but your photographs are excellent, and there is no question your sword is original and authentic.

The approximately 19-inch blade varies a little on every sword in this particular pattern and usually, if untouched is very sharp, so be careful with it. I can tell from the photographs the brass hilt has good yellow patina, and the blade is also very good with just minor rust, staining and pitting that happens on a forged piece of steel after 150 years.

The manufacturer of this sword is unknown. Regardless, it was most likely made between 1861 and 1862, early in the war. It is a very popular sword among Civil War collectors, and at the peak of the market, nice examples of this sword without a scabbard sold for between $5,000 and $6,000. With the Civil War market a little soft over the past few years, your nice example should still sell for about $4,000. The original scabbard made for this sword was of tin-mounted leather, and they are very scarce. The addition of the original scabbard typically doubles the value of this sword. 

I have a plastic-like token with “21st OVI - 25 - 1863” on one side and “Good For 25 in Goods” on the other. Do you know where I can find info on this?

JS: I am no expert on Civil War sutler tokens, but yours appears to be a real gutta-percha example that I found in one text by David Schenkman, Civil War Sutler Tokens and Cardboard Scrip. He shows oval gutta-percha (hard rubber) tokens of the same unit, the 21st Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

In a quick search of the Internet, I could find no sales of any hard rubber script, but similar scarce, hard rubber political tokens of the Civil War Era have a wide range of values, from a few hundred dollars and up. I would recommend sending these to an auction with the reference above. Your token’s rarity scale is listed in the book as the highest at 10. The holes hurt the value, no doubt, but it should still bring a few hundred dollars, my guess.

The 21st Ohio was a hard-fought regiment in the Western theatre. They are best known for producing several of Andrew's Raiders who were made famous for The Great Locomotive Chase between the Texas and the General. 

I read your feature “The Civil War Collector” every chance I get and enjoy seeing all the items and your analysis. I have one for you; your comments are welcome.

I picked up this item many years ago at an estate sale, and it has been in my miscellaneous stuff ever since. What is it? Is it Civil War-related? It appears from the tabs to be originally meant to be worn on some sort of uniform, maybe a hat? It is stamped metal, pretty malleable. The dimensions are about 3 inches wide by 2 1/2 inches tall. Any insights would be appreciated.

JS: This eagle device is old but not Civil War. There have been numerous militia and regulation military hat devices made since the early 19th century. The devices have had various attachments: soldered loops during the Civil War Era, soldered wire after, and finally, stamped attachments like on yours from the early 20th century. You find many eagle devices at trade shows, and they make an interesting collage but do not have much value, maybe $5-$10. 

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 .




 Show & Auction Almanac

Antique Shop & Mall Directory



Internet Directory



Contact Us

Advertising Rates

 Privacy Policy

Web Links

© 2000 - 2017  Norton Printing and Publishing, Inc. - All rights reserved.
No portion of the Southeastern Antiquing and Collecting Magazine may be reprinted or reproduced without express permission of the publisher.