Unidentified Reproductions, Modern Re-Issues & Flat-Out Fakes.

Since launching our site, we have received numerous welcome inquiries about various subjects related to the war on the Missouri-Kansas Border. A surprisingly large number of these requests fall under one category: namely, people asking if a specific item listed for sale on one of the prominent Internet auction sites is authentic or not.

The management of this site appreciates some of these esteemed Internet auctions, and we toast their success. Nonetheless, because of the numerous examples of fraudulent merchandise offered on some of these sites, we believe such auctions should be subjected to careful scrutiny, like all such commercial enterprises where provenance and authenticity are sometimes questionable. Speaking as an Internet seller who has had one of his own items yanked once because it was on a banned list, I can testify that online auctions do a reasonably good job of ensuring that improper items are removed quickly.

A general complaint, however, is that such actions, the result of policies by Internet auctions, aren’t always uniformly enforced.Despite their own rules that specify that if you don't have documentation for an item that it must be listed as a reproduction, they continue to allow some dealers to continually and repeatedly list undocumented, seemingly spurious items for sale, Quantrill and James/Younger Gang artifacts, for instance, listed as original relics.

In such an environment, the collector of historical artifacts can get shortchanged. Therefore, as a service to our membership, our site managers have decided to create a new forum: Welcome to "Unidentified Reproductions, Modern Reissues, and Flat-out Fakes!"

In this forum, our local experts will answer questions about items offered for sale, describe questionable practices that lead to inadequate artifact descriptions, thereby helping our members to recognize sellers who may be attempting to sell items that are fraudulent, in the expert’s view.

Naturally, even an expert can sometimes be incorrect about an artifact; nonetheless, to protect buyers, our online specialists will give their studied opinion about questionable offerings on popular Internet sales sites as a corrective to the present policy of allowing clearly fake or questionable items to appear for sale.

We will not comment on every item listed, nor will we respond to any inquiry about items that have documentation. Our general intent is to help our members gain the skills needed to identify blatant fakes or questionable artifacts and to identify Internet auction dealers who knowingly and repeatedly list such items. The opinions expressed in this feature of our website, voiced by one or more of our founding members, are intended for entertainment and enjoyment purposes only. No warranties or guarantees of accuracy are implied or intended.

The above is our firm and necessary disclaimer. Our founding members have over 100 years of collective experience in researching and collecting Quantrill and James-Younger memorabilia, and their opinions will express and reflect that background. Our membership includes board-certified appraisers, founding and long-standing members of various historical and research organizations devoted to the Missouri-Kansas Border Wars, and subject experts and award-winning authors.

So we hope you enjoy the inaugural edition of "Unidentified Reproductions, Modern Reissues, and Flat-out Fakes."

One of our members recently asked: (Q):  Dear Sirs: I have seen several web sites that have Quantrill flags listed, they are black with a white Q in the top left hand corner. Are these flags acurate? Below is an image of the flag in question.                                                                                                                           

(A): No the flags which you are describing are a fantasy piece. However one of the hottest debates to date is rather or not Quantrill’s band carried a full-sized flag. There are many accounts by numerous sources including Quantrill veterans and even official Union records which say they didn't. Of course these same Union records were extremely inaccurate when it to the causticity reports. New evidence uncovered on this website helps to document that Quantrill did indeed carry a black flag. The same black flag Quantrill was presented with a large black flag, at newspaper accounts from the 1920's mentions it was carried in battles including Lawrence.  

Bear in mind that Quantrill’s men often wore Yankee blue uniforms, and they were proficient enough in drill and demeanor to pass for Union troops at a distance. Union Calvary would have flags but they would not always utilize and/or display them. Some accounts mention that is how the Yankee eventually determined they were guerrillas. Unfortunately for them by the time the "real" Yankees realized they were facing Guerrillas, the Confederates had already begun their charge.

After General Henry Halleck issued an order on March 19, 1862 outlawing guerrillas and requiring their extermination when captured, the rules of engagement changed. Since the Confederates were now considered outlaws and shown no mercy, they soon responded in kind. One way that was utilized to describe the brutality of the conflict was to say that "it was fought under a black flag," which mean no quarter (mercy) was shown.

After the death of Jesse James, numerous "authentic" accounts of his life were rushed to print. Many of these accounts were anything but authentic and reflected exaggerated and erroneous accounts. The use of the term black flag was most often used metaphorically. The mystery is further fueled when "Captain" Kit Dalton published his book "Under The Black Flag," which has a drawing of the same type of flag displayed on the front cover.

To further complicate the issue, in the 1921 film "Jesse James Under the Black Flag," the guerrillas waved a large black flag that read QUANTRELL in white. his flag had no historical existence.  Below is an image of  the flag recovered after the Olathe Raid.                              

However, there was a flag recovered after the raid on Olathe, Kansas, on September 19, 1862. The flag is small, measuring only seven by thirteen inches. Some people think it was a "streamer" flag, placed on the staff above the regimental flag, others think it could be a company flag or gideon. Superimposed on the flag is what appears to be a raised fist or, some say, the Palmetto, a commonly used Confederate symbol.                                              

Another explanation might be that it was a "Bible" flag; in essence an over-sized book mark. These flags were popular on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line, and they were often made by a wife or sweetheart as a keepsake. But seeing that the flag was picked up at the scene of a recent guerrilla attack, the belief that flags were carried by the guerrillas is a reasonable assumption.

(Q): On prominent Internet auctions I have seen a Quantrill Raider’s Saddle Plate Dated 1862 listed from time to time; please tell me if these plates are real or not, thanks? (A) : These plates are as authentic as a politician's promise at a fund raising rally, meaning they are not authentic. Around the turn of the century Tiffany's made a series of belt buckles and saddle plates to help commemorate some of the most important units that fought in the conflict, so these plates are actually copies of those.  Here is an image of the plate.

Yes an original Tiffany buckle or plate would be valuable. However over the years I have seen scores of these plates, and none of them were one of the original Tiffany plates. 

There are many reasons why these plates could not be an authentic war-issued item.  A couple of the most important are:

(1). Quantrill's band was a guerrilla unit that seldom if ever received supplies from the Confederate or State government and used captured Federal government issue equipment when it was useful to them.

(2). The so-called "saddle plate" is of the wrong size and shape to fit on a majority of the saddles of the day, either military or civilian.            

On behalf of the management of quantrillsguerrillas.com, I want to thank our members for submitting your questions. Be sure to watch for the next edition of  "Unidentified Reproductions, Modern Reissues, and Flat-out Fakes"

© Patrick Marquis.Quantrillsguerrillas.com. "Permission should be requested and agreed to before using this copyrighted essay and/or image."                                                                                 


                                          MEMBERS ONLY SECTION

Text Size