Yesterday I was in Gettysburg, and looking at all the examples of the best of the Civil War memorabilia made me thirsty to get back in the antique treasure hunting race. Taking a little time off made my competitive passions even greater and truly opened my eyes.
Being as vision oriented as I am, standing on the high ground in Gettysburg looking over the valleys below, my mind could actually visualize the troops coming up the hills. I could actually feel the presence of the spirits of the battlefield. The only other time I’ve felt this was at the Battleship Arizona in Hawaii.
Most of the troops who participated in the Battle at Gettysburg lost 50% or more of their members, and more than 640,000 lost their lives in this war. To consider it another way, you could say that 2% of this country’s population was lost during those four years. Now, I truly understand why so many books have been written about the Civil War, and why so many Collectors want to own a part of this history.
You may assume that my eyes were opened to only the physical side of collecting the weapons of war, but you would be so wrong. How about the items pertaining to slavery? There are many paper items that remain from the days of slavery. There are bills of sale for slaves, reward posters for runaway slaves and even auction bulletins where people were sold as common belongings.
The mid 1800’s was also one of the greatest political eras of this countries history. Campaign buttons and flags were everywhere during the elections of those years. Banners were strung from every building. There were bandannas, photographs, ribbons and many more things that would fetch large sums of money today. Newspapers from those years are very collectible today.
Where can these items be found? It isn’t in Gettysburg, but in Texas, California, Wyoming and most of the states that really weren’t involved in the Civil War. Why am I so sure? If you were to start out looking in the likely places, you’d find they’ve already been found and their values are known. But, as families moved, and items were passed down to family members and families spread out into other states, these items were soon forgotten. As I’ve told you before, it’s very difficult for me to find a great painting by a Kentucky Artist in Kentucky, but I’ve found them in California, Connecticut and Florida. The same reason applies here.
I could give you the prices for some of the Civil War items, but it’s best to do your own research, and then see where it leads you. It will create an excitement and thirst for knowledge within you. My senses for collecting have been heightened by this short break, and now I’m ready to throw myself into finding those treasures that are out there waiting for me. It won’t be nearly as hard now to scan the house sales ads and auction bulletins as it was before this trip.
This may well be a good lesson for all of us. If there are times that you feel just a little burned out, find somewhere you can see the best of the best of an area of Antiques, Collectibles or Fine Art, and go visit that place. I can assure you, my fire has been re-ignited, and you will too.
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