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The Civil War Collector – October 2013

The Civil War Collector - October 2013

The Civil War Collector – October 2013

by John Sexton
Q: John, I have a Civil War dog tag that seems very unique. The dog tag is wonderfully engraved and not stamped like most of the Civil War dog tags I have seen whilst researching. I was wondering what a dog tag such as this would be worth? It seems that the dog tag is engraved into a silver half dime, which I also did not see too much of when researching either.
I have some background. William Reed enlisted in Berlin, Wis., in 1862, taken prisoner at Shiloh and discharged Sept. 18, 1863.

JS: What we normally think of when we think of Civil War dog tags are the commercial brass and pewter, quarter-sized disks sold by sutlers (salesmen) with a soldier’s name, units and town designations with images of patriotic motifs. These dog tags could identify a body from the battlefield so it could be properly returned home or properly marked on the battlefield.
Your token is somewhat of a cross between a Victorian Era love token and the Civil War identification pin. I’m sure there were several men in the 18th Wisconsin with the same initials as on this half dime, and it would have been more difficult, but not impossible, to identify “WR” if this token was found sewn inside his uniform with him dead on the battlefield. Love tokens are found in many genres, usually engraved on small silver coins with fancy initials, given to a friend or a lover, and usually anonymous without a complete name.
Typically, Civil War dog tags in good condition with little or no interesting history of the combatant sell for several hundred dollars. With interesting units and combatants with equally interesting wartime history, dog tags can sell for as much as a few thousand dollars. Your token is interesting and has an interesting look, and if sold in an ephemeral or token auction, I would imagine it would be estimated for about $200-$300 and sell in that range.
Q: Mr. Sexton, This sword came from an estate sale in Mocksville, N.C., where I grew up and where my father lives now.  I’ll send a series of emails containing pictures that my mom and dad sent me.
JS: When you hear a story about a fabulous, newly discovered, important sword that sounds so wonderful, sometimes the only thing real is the story. I am afraid this is the case here. This sword is a very clever reproduction of a Confederate Boyle & Gamble staff and field officer’s sword with an engraved maker’s mark stating, “Boyle & Gamble made for Mitchell & Tyler, Richmond VA.” This marking is the correct text found on certain Confederate staff officer swords, though the original marking is always acid-etched, never stamped or engraved. The presentation to the Confederate general on the blade is also never engraved and always etched by this maker. The scabbard mounts holding the rings are cast in the form of fists, which is a rare and unusual wartime feature, and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen them on a Confederate sword, only U.S. If this sword was real with presentation to an important Confederate general like Richard Taylor, value would be tens of thousands of dollars. A newly found foot officer’s sword presented to an Alabama general sold for $65,000 late in 2012.
Collectors, beware of these cleverly engraved, fake swords that seem to be new to the market with this style of engraved maker’s mark and presentation.
Q: Can you help me with the value of this map? It measures 8 x 10 inches and is detailed with forts, batteries and Louisiana regiments.
JS: Your hand-drawn Civil War map shows camp and artillery positions of Louisiana Confederate troops during the Yorktown Campaign, 1862, I believe at Mulberry Island on the James River. The ship Patrick Henry, which is shown on the map, was stationed there to protect against any Union vessels trying to go up the river.
Hand-drawn maps have always been popular in the collecting community, especially in nice condition as this one is. There is not a lot of detail or special aesthetics about this map, and it would probably sell for about $200 at a Civil War show or auction.

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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