American Civil War soldiers' letters up for auction in Staffordshire

Soldiers’ letters sent during the American Civil War and a huge collection of model trains are among the treasures steaming to auction in Staffordshire next week.

A GB stamps collection valued at around £1,200 includes five Penny Blacks.
A GB stamps collection valued at around £1,200 includes five Penny Blacks.

An archive of early USA stamps and postal history dating back to 1799 to the mid-20th century features as Lot 215 with Richard Winterton Auctioneers on Monday.

The auction is day one of the fortnightly Two Day Antiques and Home Sale, starting at 9.30am both days, live online from The Lichfield Auction Centre, Wood End Lane, Fradley Park.

A large philatelic consignment from a single owner forms around 20 lots in the sale, including the collection of early USA stamps and covers, with particular interest in Civil War postal history.

It includes patriotic Union illustrated covers and fronts, together with a few covers from the Confederate side.

“The covers used by Confederate soldiers were not produced by the US postal authorities,” explained stamps specialist Phil Ives.

“They were relatively crude and of course only used for a short period.”

One letter headed with a patriotic eagle taking off with the Stars and Stripes flag, leaving a shredded Confederate ‘Stars and Bars’ version of the flag in its wake, is dated October 17 1862.

This letter from a Union soldier is dated October 17 1862. It is headed with an eagle taking off with the Stars and Stripes, leaving the shredded Confederate ‘Stars and Bars’ version of the flag in its wake.

The author writes: “Chuck and I and the commanders of the company… the captain is at home he has lost his right arm and [the] lieutenant is at Washington sick and they think he won’t never be back to take command so we are left without a commissioned officer.”

The archive is estimated to go under the hammer for £500.

“It is a very fine lot for the specialist,” added Mr Ives.

Other highlights include a ‘solid’ Great Britain stamp collection valued at around £1,200 with five Penny Blacks including three with four good margins – the first postage stamp was hand-cut with big scissors and the stamp itself was rarely centred well.

There is also a British Commonwealth collection across four volumes, estimated to fetch £1,200-£1,500.

An 1857 cover bearing the patriotic sailor and Star-Spangled Banner flagstaff. Middle: A Confederate use of the same design but with the Rebel ‘Stars and Bars’ flag. Bottom: A somewhat daring design from 1862.

More than 100 lots of model railway items anticipated to realise up to £10,000 also feature in the June 21 Antiques and Home Sale.

Electric and clockwork locomotives, rolling stock, track and accessories including model figures of passengers, porters and luggage are all catalogued.

Gauges N, NO, OO, O and G – the latter as used for garden railways – all feature, with brands including Tri-ang Wrenn and Hornby Dublo.

A G gauge locomotive.

Toy specialist Jon Price said: “This sale includes an accumulation of several lifelong collections from local railway enthusiasts.

“It was certainly a fun time cataloguing these lots, which range from cherished childhood items to room-size model railway layouts and garden trains.

“It is a great opportunity to build your own train set.”

For auction enquiries and to book an appointment to view or for a valuation, telephone 01543 251081 or email

All catalogues can be viewed on the auctioneers' website.

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