Source: Antiques Roadshow: "Civil War Archive, ca. 1863"
Antiques Roadshow: "Civil War Archive, ca. 1863"
A full Teacher's Guide accompanies this video on the Antiques Roadshow Web site.
Funding for ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is provided by Liberty Mutual and Subaru. Additional funding is provided by public television viewers.
A Union soldier during the American Civil War, Fernando Robbins, spent time in three Confederate prisons. In this video from Antiques Roadshow, arms and militaria expert Christopher Mitchell examines a collection of artifacts from Robbins' time in the South, including a small Confederate flag and several carved pieces. A photo of Robbins in uniform and historical information provided by the diaries help make this collection especially unique.
During the American Civil War, Fernando Robbins, a member of the 8th New York Heavy Artillery, was captured by Confederate soldiers and confined in three Confederate prisons. Robbins kept a diary during his imprisonment; he wrote about the conditions he faced, as well as about men he knew who had deserted their units and joined the Confederate army.
Robbins collected numerous other artifacts during his time in the South. These include a small Confederate flag, which he brought home to New York as a souvenir; a stencil of his name; a "housewife" (or small case for storing needles and thread); and several small pieces that he carved while in prison. These items were passed down through the Robbins family, along with a photograph that shows Robbins in his uniform. The appraiser describes this collection as a "unique archive" that illuminates the experiences of a Union soldier who served time as a prisoner of war.
CHRISTOPHER MITCHELL, Appraiser, J. Christopher Mitchell Antiques & Militaria: Tell me about the ancestor that originally owned these things.
GUEST: Uh, his name is Fernando F. Robbins. He's from New York state, and he was a member of the 8th New York Heavy Artillery during the Civil War.
MITCHELL: And what do you know about some of the items that belong to him?
GUEST: Um, he has a couple of diaries that he kept during the war. He was confined in three Confederate prisons, and so there's some artifacts that were carved by him and the rebel banner as well.
MITCHELL: Okay, and in these diaries, do they mention his time in the prisons?
GUEST: Yeah, it does. It tells about certain days and everything that he kind of suffered through in those prisons.
MITCHELL: It's a nice archive of the life of a gentleman who spent quite a bit of time in prison, it would appear. These are individual artifacts that belong to him personally. This is what we call a "housewife." You would keep your sewing needle, your darn, it's a way to take care of your uniform and your appearance. And if we look on the top, it has Fernando Robbins' name. It's actually in nice shape. As you can imagine, normally, these would start to fall apart. Here we have a little stencil that belonged to him, and he would use this to paint his name on items. And also here we have a photograph of him in his uniform, which ties a face to the guy who owned these items, which I think, really, you know, historically helps us out. Of particular interest are these diaries. A normal diary would start at, like, $800 to $1,000 with good content. But because these mention his time in prison, and they also mention some guys who went over to the Confederate army instead of staying in the Union army, well, that's something that any collector or a scholar would be fascinated by, so you could figure any one of these easily starting out at about $1,500 apiece.
MITCHELL: Over here, these are very, very unique. They're bone carvings. Prisoners of war have all the time in the world, as you can imagine, and there's nothing to do, so they would sit around and pick up little bits of wood or bone and they would carve favors or things to trade to the guards or to sell to other soldiers that were in prison with them. And these are a unique grouping. We have a little cannon here on top of a ring, a little pitcher, a little federal shield with a soldier's face in it. Those three items together, believe it or not, probably worth around $1,000. This stencil is probably worth $200 or $300 and the housewife is probably worth about $500 or $600. This is a unique thing because it's a little patriotic Confederate flag. It's all hand painted, the stars are all hand sewn. We have the letters "CSA" right here. Often these are called "bible flags" because soldiers would use them to mark the pages in their bible. But this one has been put on a haft so he could actually use it. And one of the interesting things is he probably traded the guard some of the things he carved to get his flag, which he brought home as a souvenir. And this little flag by itself is probably worth $1,500 to $2,000. If we didn't have this little bit of damage, maybe $3,000. So it's a unique archive of the life of a guy who spent a great deal of time in prison in the Civil War. And because it all belongs to the same guy and it's all his past, if I had these things in my shop, I'd probably want maybe $9,500 for them as a group. It's a really unique grouping.
GUEST: Wow. Thanks.
Academic standards correlations on Teachers' Domain use the Achievement Standards Network (ASN) database of state and national standards, provided to NSDL projects courtesy of JES & Co.
We assign reference terms to each statement within a standards document and to each media resource, and correlations are based upon matches of these terms for a given grade band. If a particular standards document of interest to you is not displayed yet, it most likely has not yet been processed by ASN or by Teachers' Domain. We will be adding social studies and arts correlations over the coming year, and also will be increasing the specificity of alignment.