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Rare tintypes of black Civil War troop going to be auctioned

  • SACRAMENTO, California
  • /
  • February 27, 2015

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Rare tintype pair of Black Soldiers of the 54th Connecticut Civil War troop to be auctioned March 4 to 18 by Witherell's.
Jesse Bravo

A rare pair of Civil War photos of black soldiers is going to be auctioned March 4 to 18, 2015, by “Antiques Roadshow” appraiser and global auctioneer Brian Witherell.

The hand-colored tintypes of the 54th Connecticut troop are so rare because the men are seen relaxing instead of posing in the formal line of people taken then.

Sitting, standing and leaning against a large cannon that was probably captured from the Confederacy, the men were on garrison duty in Arkansas at the time.

A pyramid of cannonballs can be seen in the foreground of one.

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The tintypes also show the commanding officer, a white lieutenant in white trousers, with a straw hat and sword.

“It is so exciting to have a find like this come into our hands,” said Brian Witherell, chief operating officer of Sacramento-based Witherell’s.

“We have been entrusted with the photos of the troop, other photos of Lt. Samuel Thompson and family from the period and his sword.”

The Civil War discharge papers, presentation sword and horse brush of a sergeant in the Illinois Light Artillary also will be auctioned.

A nine-branch Tiffany candelabra also will be auctioned by Witherell's March 4 to 18.
Benjamin Pulido

Since horse brushes usually are thrown out, they rarely are seen outside museums today.

The musket, cartridge box and discharge papers from the sergeant’s teenage son, who joined the Illinois voluntary infantry at age 16 and served until the Civil War’s end, also are part of the items.

A nine-arm, silver candelabra pair, a 2-ft. diameter silver presentation bowl and two other Tiffany items also are part of the catalogue auction highlights.

A chair that belonged to first U.S. President George Washington is being sold by a Sacramento resident.

Witherell’s will be publishing a catalogue for the sale.


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