How Much Is My Civil War Gun Worth?

Great question, I’ve been purchasing Civil War weapons for some time now and I’m always asked “how much is my civil war gun, knife, sword worth?” Well it seems these days many of us have an unrealistic impression as to what our CW items are worth.

Let me explain. First we need to differentiate between Union and Confederate pieces. Confederate pieces will always seek higher value then Union pieces unless the Union piece has provenance or was carried by someone of historical significance. Many newbie Civil War collectors want to buy a long rifle, carbine or maybe a sword to start their collection. So they go on the internet or to the next antique gun show and they buy the first gun or sword they see not understanding its true value.

Then you have the owner of Civil War weapons who may have inherited Civil War items from a relative or purchased a couple pieces a few years back, they over paid for the gun or sword and now they not only want to get their money back but they want to make 50% premium, sorry but it doesn’t work like that.

It’s my opinion that the best way of understanding value of Civil War weapons is to do your research. There are many reference books that have been published over the past 10 years that are an absolute must for all CW collectors. These books are written by the experts in the industry and many have 100’s of high quality photos that always come in handy, I will mention a few of these books at the end of this post.

So back to value, there are many unscrupulous people out there that will take advantage of buyers of CW items if you don’t do your homework. When I first started collecting CW guns and swords I would buy the first item that came along only to see the same item at the next gun show for a fraction of the price and in better condition. This happened a few times before the light went off in my head. I started becoming more disciplined, I purchased all the research books I could to make me a better consumer.

I would recommend to all reading this post “DO NOT BUY CIVIL WAR GUNS OR SWORDS FROM ONLINE AUCTIONS” you have no recourse if the item doesn’t meet your expectations. It’s tricky when you purchase a gun/sword from an auction because of the percentage the auction house adds on after the auction is closed, and that amount is usually 15 to 20% on top of the winning bid.

You’re better off buying your CW items from the major dealers in the industry. I found that you can generally negoicate price with the prominate CW dealers and they usually have a 3 to 7 day buy back if you’re not happy with the piece. They want you to keep coming back so they’re going to treat you like a client rather than someone they won’t see again.

Many of the dealers have large inventories, since there always buying large collections of weapons and they need to turn over there inventory, so there willing to sell items at fair market value (sometimes even below) especially Union pieces. Let’s face it the Union made millions of weapons during the CW and there’s no shortage of those pieces. On the other hand the Confederate weapons that are a horse of another color. All Confederate weapons are considered rare, some more than others but never the less all Southern weapons are rare.

I’ve gotten to know some of the major Civil War dealers over the past few years and I can generally buy items well below market value because I pay my bills and I keep coming back time after time. Most of the weapons I buy these days are Confederate. I’ve purchased a number of Bowie Knives, Pikes, Carbines, Long Rifles and just about anything else that whistles Dixie. I have a nice collection of Richmond Virginia Long Rifles, short rifles and carbines and I didn’t pay more than $6500.00 for any of them, well below market value and yes I bought them from dealers, one of the big mistakes I made is I bought an 1863 Richmond Carbine from an online auction for $4600.00 only to receive it and find the barrel had been cut down. I had no recourse in returning the Richmond to the online auction so I ate the loss. That was a big loss to eat. DO NOT BUY FROM ONLINE AUCTIONS!!!!!!

So again I ask what is my Civil War weapon worth? I guess what someone is willing to pay for it.

If you have a Civil War weapon that you want to sell or just want to understand its value I can help. Email me at genx1969@yahoo.com and I will get back to you ASAP. If I can’t help you I may know someone who can.

If you have any Confederate weapons that you want to sell, I am always interested.

Gene West
civilwararsenal@yahoo.com

Reference books;
1.Confederate Bowie Knifes, By Jack Melton, Josh Phillips, John Sexton
2.Collecting the Confederacy, By Shannon Pritchard
3.Civil War Collectibles, By Russell E. Lewis
4.Civil War Firearms, By John F. Graf
5.Flayderman’s Guide to Antique American Firearms, By Norm Flayderman
6.The Civil War Collector’s Price Guide, By Stephen Sylvia

37 thoughts on “How Much Is My Civil War Gun Worth?

  1. I have a 1862 Richmond rifle that my great Uncle brought back from Gettysburg shortly after the battle. It is in very good condition and my uncle used it for deer hunting during muzzleloader season occasionally. He had it for over fifty years and left it to me when he passed on. Just curious as to what it is really worth…

  2. I have a 1865 B.Buell 50 cal shotgun.with a damaged hammer.What is it worth and where can I find any info. Regarding same. Thank you

  3. have a 1862 TOWER .577 cal Rough shape
    has crown to left of hammer 1862 to right of hammer all on RS. sideplate
    left side plate Upside down graphis 25 graphic 25 np
    missing center brass screw Left side
    missing center barrel band
    trying to determine VALUE
    712-322-4782

  4. Hello, we have a Civil War Rifle we would like to have an estimate of value on (we would like to sell it), however, we have taken it to multiple places and no one can value it because they are not familiar with it and cannot find the manufacturer in their reference books. It is a Belgium manufacturer (P.J. Malherbe), the make is a Saxon (confirmed) and is either an 1851 or 1856). According to the limited research we have done, it seems to be a pretty rare item. The few people who have looked at it have confirmed that it is in very good condition and all of the parts are original. To make matters even better, it looks to be that the serial # is 5 and we have the original ramrod (also numbered with the 5). Is this an item you are familiar with and can give us an estimate of value on? If so, I can send detailed pictures.

    Thank you, so much!!

    Kat

    • Kay, please provide photos of rifle, lock plate, and any markings on the stock and barrel. Please use high resolution photos if possible. If I can’t help you I will put you in touch with someone who can.
      Sincerely, Gene West

  5. And here is the last half. We appreciate the help. We have had this gun in our family forever and just recently decided to get it valued to see if it was worth selling….we never though it would be this hard to get a value on it! Lol! We took it to 3 gun shops in Reno, NV and no one could tell us anything, so we are keeping are fingers crossed this time!

    Kat

    • Kat, https://www.collegehillarsenal.com/shop/product.php?productid=574
      If you go to the link above you will learn a bit about the weapon you have. It is a Saxon 1851 – 1857, P.J. Malherbe & Cie .58 caliber rifle. It was imported from Belgium at the beginning of the war and apparently issued to troops from Illinois.
      As for the value, I’m not familiar enough with this weapon to give you a honest valuation. But Tim Prince from College Hill Arsenal would be the one to do so. He is the leading expert for American Civil War Imports. Send him an email about your rifle and I’m certain he will help, he would also be the dealer who could sell it for best price.

      Hope this helps, good luck with the rifle, Gene

  6. I was reading the info on your website and wondering if might be able to help me. I have a civil war rifle which my grandfather found on a construction site over fifty years ago under the foundation of an old building which was being demolished in Newark NJ where I believe soldiers where stationed. I did some research of the area to connect the rifle to soldiers occupying that area. The rifle is in the condition youigjt expect after being buried Al those years, but appears in tact except a piece of trigger guard missing. It has a date on it of 1848 I believe and a I believe a soldier’s name on it. If you can help I can email you a picture of it. Thank you and looking forward to hearing from you. Alex

  7. Hello,

    I have a 3 band Spencer rifle, Spencer made. The strange thing is, it is in 56-46 and has a Springfield marked barrel. I know the 56-46 was a Springfield invention for the carbine. It has a wide cartridge guide, and the breech block has holes in it. It also has a Lane extractor. I have seen photos of a prototype carbine that has this cartridge guide. But I can’t find anything for a three band rifle. But if you wanted to test a carbine with the cartridge, why not a rifle.

    The rifle has a 3/4 stamped on the butt. I first thought some type of rack number. I pulled the fore wood to check the witness mark, and found a 3 stamped on the barrel and front of the action. So is this number 3 of 4 ??

    Is it a prototype or a trials rifle. I can supply more info if required.

  8. Hi, I found you online and I’m not sure if you still do this but I thought I would take a chance. My dad gave me this and said it was from civil war and I have no idea what the name is and how much it is worth. Wondering if you could help me out. Thank you

  9. Hi Gene,

    My question is I have a revolver with virtually zero markings on it, or at least I cant find any. I am an amateur for sure. Can you help me with this old gun!?

    Thank you,
    Michael

    • Michael, revolvers are really not my expertise but my gut tells me it’s an Italian import with some age to it…..many Italian imports don’t have serial numbers and it my be that at one time or another someone removed the made in “Italy” stamping……sorry I couldn’t be more helpful.

      Regards, Gene

  10. I have a Walter Waston Fayetteville NC 3 band 1861 lock Musket . I will sell open for offers. Will send pics if interested. Richard

  11. Hello Sir,

    To start with I only have one civil war era gun, it is a Frank Wesson two trigger carbine. That is about all I know about this gun. I have googled and also read what I could find about these rifles. I thought it might be an early prototype or something. The serial number is 16, it is found on the barrel also on the receiver and the bottom of the trigger guard. The carbine does not have the slotted link to prevent opening too far and no ejector. The breech is not split for the hammer firing pin, where the firing pin would be there is a nipple and the hammer looks like it belongs on a percussion gun. I would like to know some history or what the gun may have been used for. I attached some pics hoping it would help. I would also be willing to ship the gun to someone to ID it.

    Thanks For any help,
    Frank Wilson

  12. I found your name on the internet. The rifle in these pictures has been in my family for years. I’ve had it now for several years and was wondering if you can give me any background information on it and perhaps tell be an estimated value of its worth.

    Thanks,
    Don Barker

  13. Hello,
    I recently was given an old Civil War era musket rifle, and what appears to be a horn carved powder flask. I don’t know much about them, but it appears to be the same as this one:
    http://www.historicalarms.com/civil-war-long-arms-rifles-muskets-carbines-for-sale/civil-war-springfield-rifle-musket-in-the-black-and-identified.html

    “1864” is engraved, as well as “WM Muir & Co. Windsor Locks. CT.” On the top of the butt place “US” is engraved as well.
    I will attach several photos. What would you estimate the value at? Would you be interested in purchasing it?

    Email me back with any further questions at Krismuhly@gmail.com
    Thanks

    • Kris, unfortunately you muzzle loader isn’t in very good condition, however if it’s a complete weapon with all its parts and no repairs to the stock it’s worth about $850 at best…..below is an attachment from the “Flaydermans Guide to Antique American Firearms” which is the best guide for understanding values.
      You can see for yourself what full retail value would be ($850.00) if gun is in good condition. It’s my opinion based on your photos your weapon is in less then good condition……but that’s just my opinion.
      Hope this helps you understand value. I wouldn’t have an interest in buying your Musket.

      Regards, Gene West

  14. Good evening Eugene,
    I’ve enjoyed looking at your site and all the information you’re sharing on CS rifles and muskets.

    I have in my possession a very early Virginia rifle. That was altered for Confederate use. It’s a Virginia Manufactory Rifle Type 2, dated 1821, that was one of roughly 250-360 altered by Merrill of Baltimore (whom was much more famous for his Merrill carbines than conversions) in early 1861 when Richmond was trying to convert flintlocks to percussion before the war kicked off. Most were issued from June through November of 1861 to Virginia units, which can be identified.

    The lock mechanism work along with the patch box/spring, and the barrel still has rifling present in .45 or .46 caliber. I can’t remember which one offhand. I have only heard of one other of this type of alteration sell (Thayer Americana bought in 2005 and then sold in 2007 at Little John’s Auction House), and another example appears on page 487-490 in Madaus and Murphy’s CS Rifles and Muskets. The Virginia Historical Society does not contain one in their immense collection of Virginia Manufactory, which is pretty surprising in all the years that Giles Cromwell spent researching and collecting Virginia Manufactory.

    Anyhow, I am looking to sell the rifle, and was wondering if you’d be interested in the piece before i went through James Julia this Monday.

    Thanks,
    Mark

  15. Mr. West:

    I read your article in and wondered if you can assist us.

    The local historian has eight rifled muskets which appear to have been manufactured during the Civil War. The collection is housed in our public library and the village administration wishes to insure them for the appropriate amount.

    I noted that you added a bibliography to your article, but those books are not immediately available!

    This is the inventory of the eight rifled muskets in the Hamilton Museum:

    One US “Whitney-ville” rifled musket, bore is 0.685/0.69, s/n 5723, dated 1863.
    Accompanied by a single-hook leather sling and cutlass-like bayonet.
    Percussion cap ignition and 1,000 yard marksman’s or sniper’s sight.

    Seven each rifled muskets, bored 0.69/0.70, percussion cap ignition. All have sniper’s sights, marked to 800 meters maximum and there are five triangular bayonets, some with scabbards.

    One is marked so:
    On the right side lock plate: A & CH. DE LONEUX
    LIEGE E
    Left side of barrel is marked, including Belgian proof mark: Within an oval, the letters: L G
    ELG stands for “Epreuve de Liege” or proof of Liege. Perhaps the star is a crown? *

    The first Belgium proof mark was ELG in oval (no crown)
    which came out around 1810.

    One is marked so:
    On the right side lock plate, in script: M.re R.le
    de St Etienne

    This is the abbreviation for the French arsenal at Saint Etienne: Manufacture de Armes de St. Etienne. This arsenal was active from about the time of our Revolutionary War until the present day.

    Left side of barrel is marked, including the Belgian proof mark.

    Two are marked on the right side lock plate: TANNER & CIE and bear the proof mark.

    Three have no visible identification marks, except for the proof mark and a crowned CD on the top strap of the butt plate and an illegible stamp on the barrel flat.
    As an interested Navy veteran of Vietnam, they have asked me to help. If necessary, I can provide images of the weapons, but I do not have them at present. Any assistance you can provide — even a poke in the correct direction! — would be a great help.

    Thank you.

    John
    LCdr, CEC, USNR-Ret

    and

    Adjutant, Lloyd V. Evans Post 375
    The American Legion

    • John, if you could provide quality images (photos) of the weapons in question I will do my best to help with all questions you may have. Which state and city are you in?

  16. Thank you, Gene!

    We are in Hamilton, New York. I found my photos, but I think I had better take some again. These are of the one Whitney-ville rifled musket.

    • John , please see the attachment I’ve enclosed to better understand value of weapon. It was unclear whether you have a Whitney 1861 Navy Percussion Rifle or a Whitney US Contract 1861 Rifle Musket……so I’ve enclosed information on both.
      If yours looks like the photo then you have the Navy Rifle, however if yours has 3 barrel bands then it’s the Contract Rifle……..
      Of course condition is everything when it comes to value and you haven’t provided enough images for me to understand it’s condition…..at the bottom of each attachment you will see values based on condition. Hope this helps.

      Regards, Gene

  17. Have a old 36 Cal Navy Made Powder Pistol .Have mold to make bullets ,caps,and tools and case…Don’t know much about it…I believe it was made in1845.I have pics.Thanks…I would like to sell.

  18. Hello I am sending you some pictures of what I believe are a rifle from the Civil War it’s a musket tune it’s stamped see you Chapman also has the number 14 on it and that is stamped in 2 places was wondering if you could help me out with that as far as is it something worth anything any help would be greatly appreciated thank you for any help.
    Sandy

  19. Ugly, worn, damaged.Lock functions perfectly.Slight barrel bend.Barrel full length.Missing ramrod and two barrel bands.
    Mre Rle De Mutzig engraved on lock.other proofs and cartouches on various parts.All original except for the very old bailing wire repair.
    Acquired in a trade.Reputed to have come from a barn stairwell in Baton Rouge, La before demolition.Any Interest?I’m asking $300 + shipping

    • Kesha, unfortunately I wouldn’t be interested in the revolver………a lot of the information that is quoted about its Confederate history (provenance) is hearsay……these days I only purchase weapons with factual provenance…….sorry.

      Regards, Gene West

      • Thank you for looking at the gun. We do have copies of articles that were written from this man and also copies of his discharge papers from Moseby but nothing more than that. Can you tell me if you agree with the appraisal?

        • I don’t have a negative opinion of the appraisal, I can say Mr. XXXXX OF XXXXX XXXXXX is highly respected and I trust him…….the problem I see with your revolver is that you cannot absolutely prove it was carried by the Confederate soldier…….it’s hearsay and I don’t purchase weapons for that price on word of mouth……..to risky of an opportunity……hope you understand.

          Regards, Gene West

  20. I have a Spencer 1860 also noticed 1865 is model no. it is in pretty good shape to be that old I would sell it if I could get a decent price for it no.16414 . I also have a us springfield 1873 what kind of prices you think

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