During a recent trip to Atlanta, I had the opportunity to view one of the nation’s largest Civil War exhibits, featuring more than 1,500 original artifacts.
It was a very impressive collection, ranging from canteens and games to keep the soldiers occupied to uniforms and flags.Some of the most interesting pieces were the weapons that the soldiers used.
We’ve been fortunate enough to handle the sale of some fantastic Civil War pieces. We sold a lap desk that belonged to General Benjamin “Beast” Butler. He controlled New Orleans after the war and was despised by the residents.Despite his unpopularity in the South, the lap desk brought a sum near $1,000.
We have also sold a number of photographs of Civil War soldiers. The type of photograph makes a difference in price. An older daguerreotype photograph will typically sell for more than a later tintype. Southern soldiers typically sell for more as do higher ranking soldiers,those holding weapons and identified soldiers.
Of great interest to many Civil War collectors are the tools of battle. Collectors, dealers and museums are always looking for Civil War rifles, bayonets, knives and swords. “The Civil War Trust” as well as other sources notes that the Civil War was our nation’s bloodiest conflicts.The death toll is estimated at 620,000, which was roughly 2 percent of the population at the time.Personal weapons produced prior to the war were used along with military weapons.
The preferred rifle of the North was the Springfield. The Springfield Armory in Springfield produced rifles well before the Civil War. The armory produced about 300,000 muskets but other companies also worked to meet the huge demand.
The Enfield was used extensively by the South and was the second most widely used firearm during the Civil War. They were produced in England and were sold to both Union and Confederate troops.
Edged weapons often showed status. The website, civilwarsoldier.com, states that of the 250,000 injuries reported by Union forces only 922 were from edged weapons. Despite, the relatively small impact, they are popular with collectors. Sabers and swords often reflected the status of the bearer.Officers’sabers were typically created by skilled craftsman of fine materials.A wide range of bayonets were used from smaller varieties to some almost as large as a sword. Bowie knives and other knives were also used in hand to hand combat. With soldier’s having to travel large distances and carry so much weight with other items, it was a disincentive for them to carry additional weapons.
With the massive casualties, stories of brothers fighting brothers,and states trying to secede from the Union, the Civil War is a major part of our history. History buffs and collectors are willing to pay large sums for relics. Items can range from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
On a local historical note,we will be selling automobile/gasoline (petroliana) collectibles from what was a working gas station in Auburn. One of the more interesting pieces is a steel building created in New York by a company run by William Buchanan. It is a free standing “fireproof” steel building. We will be offering a preview on Aug. 9 and 10. We also have a number of automobile related signs as well.
If you have any questions about antique auctions and estate sales, call Wayne Tuiskula, Auctioneer/Appraiser at 508-612-6111 or email us today.
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