Art & Antiques: Civil War collectibles

An early photograph of a soldier.

An early photograph of a soldier.

As Americans remember the 150th anniversary of the Civil War battle of Gettysburg, I am reminded of the many objects associated with the war between the states (or as some call it when I am taping “Auction Kings” for Discovery channel in Atlanta Georgia, the war of northern aggression). I have appraised numerous pieces that have been kept, preserved, and cherished by audience members attending my more than 150 antiques appraisal events every year.

I have been known to highlight the American collecting trend of the 50, 100, and 150 year cycles. We collect the objects associated with these historic milestones. For instance, we will remember the events surrounding the historic day when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, TX 50 years ago. Objects surrounding the Kennedy administration and his untimely death will come into focus with collectors later this year. Objects that become 100 years old this year will be of interest on the auction block and in dealerships worldwide too. Of course, the granddaddy celebration of them all in 2013 will be the memorials surrounding the battles of the Civil War including Gettysburg and others which took place 150 years ago.

We tend to keep objects that reach those important anniversaries among us as collectibles and this summer, Civil War collectibles will be all over the news in connection with the anniversary of the historic battle of Gettysburg.

According to the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission, there were more than 10,000 engagements and battles that occurred during the Civil War. However, these battles which occurred during 1863 have reached an historic landmark date of 150 years old, this year. Some of the battles of that fateful year include: Aldie, Bristoe Station, Chancellorsville, Chattanooga, Fort Wagner, Gettysburg, Honey Springs, Middleburg, Mine Run, Port Hudson, Raymond and Vicksburg to name just a few.

At my appraisal events worldwide, I have evaluated pieces with significant Civil War provenance include many well preserved military swords, Confederate and Union uniforms, a mourning locket with woven hair to remember a fallen soldier, canteens and utilitarian objects from the battlefield owned by troops, a field-used wooden slant top lap desk used by a General and now owned by his great grandson, an early photograph of a soldier in uniform from Virginia, numerous letters written to loved ones at home describing life on the battlefield and in military service, a government issued horse brush with dated documents to prove its origin and intended use, military fifes and drums, and much more.

If you are interested in learning more about the civil war and its rich history, I suggest a visit to one of the many battlefield sites for a tour such as Gettysburg PA where you can tour on foot or on comfortable and speedy Segways with a trained guide. Websites galore touch upon the subject of the Civil War and provide information, historical content, and interactive maps of troop movement and events. Check out for information.

Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, award-winning TV personality and TV talk show host, Dr. Lori presents antiques appraisal events nationwide. Dr. Lori is the star appraiser on Discovery channel’s hit TV show, “Auction Kings.” Visit, or call (888) 431-1010.

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