If you’ve collected military items for any length of time, chances are that you’ve heard of the name “Bannerman.” Like many successful entrepreneurs of yesteryear, Francis Bannerman IV was an immigrant, brought to America as a child. Born in Dundee, Scotland in 1851, the 3-year old Bannerman settled in Brooklyn, New York with his Scottish father and Irish mother. Read more
From the outset of the Civil War to the end of the century, no other publication did more to reflect and shape public opinion than Harper’s Weekly. Most notably, the journal carried the most extensive coverage of the Civil War and strongly influenced political discourse through its masterful illustrations, thought-provoking editorials, and scathing political cartoons. Read more
During the American Civil War, Mathew B. Brady, Alexander Gardner, and other photographers enjoyed tremendous business success due in large part to the popularity of the carte de visite (abbreviated CDV). Cartes de visite provided soldiers, family and friends with an affordable way to share photographic portraits with one another. Cartes de visite provided a soldier with a picture of what he was fighting for; his family. And for those on the Homefront, cartes showcased images that helped explain the war. Read more
While taking photos of interesting artifacts at a recent Civil War show, a gentleman approached me with an item he wanted photographed. He opened his clinched fist to reveal a nondescript piece of metal that he proceeded to drop into the palm of my awaiting hand. Read more
Several years ago, I recovered a Saint Christopher medal from the grounds of a WW2 training area in middle Tennessee. Immediately intrigued by the medal, its meaning, and why a solider would have worn it, I took a closer look at the relationship between Saint Christopher and the military.
From the decorative to the mundane, I’ve always been intrigued by clay tobacco pipes. They’re some of the most curious artifacts in my personal collection because of the stories they tell. Just by looking at a pipe, I begin to imagine the type of person that would have smoked it– their social lot in life, political leanings, sense of humor, and other quirky attributes. Read more
While violence and destruction reigned supreme during the Civil War, the American Bible Society (ABS) waged another kind of war; a war for the souls of the fighting men. The ABS, along with other religious-based organizations, began to distribute pocket Bibles to both Confederate and Union soldiers. By December 1861, the ABS was printing and distributing approximately 7,000 New Testament pocket Bibles a day to soldiers in both armies. Read more
One of the most significant casualties of the Civil War was pocket change. That’s right, pocket change. When it became clear that our nation was in for a long and bloody conflict, government-issued coinage began to disappear.
“Reader, did you ever eat a mussel? Well, we did, at Shelbyville. We were camped right upon the bank of Duck River, and one day Fred Dornin, Ed Voss, Andy Wilson and I went in the river mussel hunting. Every one of us had a meal sack. We would feel down with our feet until we felt a mussel and then dive for it. When we got to camp we cracked the shells and took out the mussels. We tried frying them, but the longer they fried the tougher they got. They were a little too large to swallow whole. Then we stewed them, and after a while we boiled them, and then we baked them, but every flank movement we would make on those mussels the more invulnerable they would get.”
Last weekend I spent some time with Ray Hunt, a collector of Florida maps and postcards to learn more about his collection and what led him to collecting. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Ray, his wife Linda, and their sons, Brad and Bryan for over two decades now. I was in school and Boy Scouts with Bryan but it was only later in life when Ray hired me to work for him that I learned about Ray’s collection of historic maps and postcards of Florida. Since Will and I started a company offering software for collectors, it was only fitting I spend some time with Ray learning more about what he collects. Read more