Articles At A Glance
When Military Antiques Come to Auction History Comes Alive
As seen in The Antique Shoppe Newspaper, July 2010
Antique items coming under the umbrella of " American Militaria" offer a wide range of collecting categories. Many turned up at the March 10, 11, James Julia Firearms auction. One category, a sad reminder in American history, was a collection of genuine slave tags and one slave token. Each with the date, city and classification of duties, such as "servant", "mechanic". All had been excavated over many years by a collector.
From swords to powder horns all were pretty pricey, but after all buyers are purchasing a piece of our nation's history. Prices ranged from the low thousands to over $100,00.00.
While the auction consisted mainly of rare firearms and edged weapons, there were some outstanding opportunities for Civil War buffs. All of the items came with letters of provenance, adding to their interest and value. A prime example was a captured silk, Confederate battle flag in surprisingly good condition. It is one of nine known to exist.
The others are in museums. An interesting flag was a North Carolina company flag with one star.
It is unique for the history of a captured Confederate drum to be documented. One offered at the auction was inscribed by the soldier who found it, "3 miles from Fort Walker, Hilton Head, S.C. on the 8th of November, 1861 by Wm Car. The Steward of Steamship Manion". More history is written as well.
Some military items can be artistic masterpieces. The engraving on swords, firearms, powder horns and powder flasks is often detailed and exquisite. Several presentation swords in the auction combined ornately engraved silver and brass. These were especially interesting because they had the date of presentation and the officer's name. Depending on the fame of the officer and documented history of the event, as well as the quality of engraving, prices at auction can range from $5,000 to $50,000.
CLUES: Daguerreotypes, tintypes and photo card images of officers and soldiers used to turn up at garage sales and flea markets for a few dollars. These days, when they come to auction a small lot can fetch several thousand dollars or more. Condition is important.A famous general ups the price.
Be wary of faked, carved ivory powder horns.
Civil war diaries can still be discovered, even at used book sales.
Even if you can't afford to bid at auction spend money on the fabulous auction catalog. Write to James D. Julia, Inc. 203 Route 201, Fairfield, ME 04937. It is an education in itself.
Anne Gilbert has been self-syndicating the ANTIQUE DETECTIVE to such papers as the Chicago Sun Times and the Miami Herald since 1983. She has authored nine books on antiques, collectibles and art and appeared on national TV. She has done appraisals for museums and private individuals.
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