Where Yesterday Meets Tomorrow
Recently a woman offered us two framed civil war documents which she said were signed by General Sherman. They were nicely framed and matted. Also in the frames with the documents were engraved images of Sherman and a facsimile of his signature. We offered her $75 for them and she was incensed. Another antiques dealer had offered her much more than that! This was a clear case of embellishment. The documents were not signed by Sherman - they were orders he had issued and were signed by one of his aides. The documents were moderately interesting. They both related to the appointment of a court-martial. The engravings were common images torn from books. The printed facsimile signature was worthless and included to deceive the gullible into thinking they had an authentic Sherman autograph. The actual documents were probably worth $20-30 each. The rest of it was virtually worthless. Some marketing scheme had promoted them as rare civil war documents and probably sold them for $129.95 each. And some local antique dealer — probably someone who specializes in Hummels — had been fooled into offering a too high price.
The kind of embellishment that WOULD have added to the value of these documents would have been some research to determine what interesting cases, if any, the court-martial had heard. Even a modern typescript article on that would enhance the value of the documents. But it was easier to jazz them up with gold frames and tear sheets from civil war books. (Of course, maybe they did do the research... and the answer was "NONE!")
Moral: Don't be dazzled by the wrapping!
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