• Sold for: Start Free Trial or Sign In to see what it's worth.
  • Item Category: Sports
  • Source: eBay
  • Sold Date: Aug 31, 2008
  • Channel: Auction House
From an old estate sale near Richmond, VA -- w/ several other Civil War items including cannon balls, swords, and guns.
Other pike in lot was marked "Weldon Ironworks" -- and sold on eBay.
Pikes were the poor man's weapon -- the South relying on them early, and then again late in the War. We believe this obviously old, but unmarked Confederate Pike was made late in the War to defend Richmond -- either at Weldon or other nearby locality.
The Weldon Railroad was a vital link in the Rebel supply system in 1864-65. The town & its railroads were heavily defended, and the First Battle of Weldon Railroad came in June, 1864 when federal cavalry tried to cut the supply line to Lee's Army in Petersburg. It was a Confederate victory, but cost some 4000 casualties.
Weldon was a vital rail link supplying Lee's Army farther south. Thru traffic, repair works -- and ironworks -- grew all during the War, but especially in the late stages. By then, pikes were being made to arm not only Lee's Army but civilians in the trenches around Petersburg and Richmond. The battlefield was limited now so most were used near their point of manufacture.
Reference Works / Documentation
Two definitive texts on Civil War polearms are "American Polearms 1526-1865" by Rodney H. Brown, and "Confederate Edged Weapons" by William Albaugh III. Albaugh divides them into two main categories -- " Makers Whose Arms Are Identified" and "Arms Whose Makers Have Not Yet Been Identified." Part I is 114 pgs., but Part II is 63 pgs. -- a surprising length since much less is known. It reflects the sheer number of existing examples made in small shops; by village blacksmiths; and prototype samples sent by "Mechanics" to the Capital in Richmond.
Albaugh depicts 5 known types of Confederate Pike w/ makers unknown. He writes (p. 159-60) that "As a young boy, the author remembers that steel-tipped (flat spear point) lances were reasonably common in Richmond. ... . The fact that most were in fairly good shape indicated that they had seen little service." (Emphasis ours.) He adds that a Richmond shop -- run by two Southern veterans -- offered pikes for sale until about 1900.
Brown states that " production of all southern polearms may have reached into the tens of thousands." But thousands were destroyed at war's end -- and many more destroyed later as their long poles made them hard to store. Many southern leaders favored the use of pikes for close combat. And a Union veteran describes picking up 5 pikes at Getty'sburg after Pickett's Charge -- another incident showing wide-spread use.
But by the time the defense of Richmond was at hand, cruder pikes -- like ours -- were being mass-produced at nearby Weldon and elsew Citizens and soldiers alike used them to defend the remaining trenches and gun positions. As the record shows, years later many of these weapons still remained in the Richmond vicinity.
Item Specifics
So our Pike has excellent provenance -- having been bought just outside Richmond, along w/ a 2nd pike marked "Weldon." It never traveled far in 140 years. It has a flat spear point -- 6 1/2" long, and is 6' 2" overall. The ash pole is secured to the head w/ two crude bolts and a copper band. It shows signs of heavy period use -- the shaft being worn below the blade w it was held -- and the butt showing heavy wear.
Sale Details
This is the chance to own an artifact dating back to the Civil War. These pieces have always been a good investment. In recent decades, they have grown in value every year. The reason is that most collectors of high-end pieces are relatively unaffected by economic declines. Demand is very strong today.
These old, intact military pieces -- with great provenance -- are nearly impossible to find today. We increasingly work smaller towns and venues to find value -- w, luckily, we look for other items as well. Considering the prices of these items, we may have to sell only thru large auction houses in the near future. Their buyers are out in for...