Appraisal: Confederate anthem may be by two different composers

Independent antiques appraiser and dealer Susan Mullikin, who is a graduate of the Asheford Institute, appraises the value of a Confederate anthem.
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By Susan Mullikin

Appraisal Inquiry:

Enclosed is a color copy of an 1861 printing of the National Confederate Anthem, “God Save The South,” published by Miller & Beacham, Baltimore, Maryland. I own the 1861 anthem.

About 20 years ago, a lady at the flea market sold me an 1863 newspaper. Later at home, I opened the newspaper searching for stories of Civil War battles and events. Stuck inside, I found the 1861 anthem.

The front cover has two errors. One is a misspelled word “PURLISHED.” The “R” should be a “B.” Two, it credits Ernest Halphin with both writing and composing the anthem. He did not compose it. The top right of the first page of the sheet music states composed by C.T. DeCoeniel.

What is it worth? Also, do you have any information about the National Confederate Anthem, “God Save The South.” Thanks.

- M.J.

Appraisal:

In 1861 amidst the start of the American Civil War, the popular Confederate tune “God Save the South” was written and set to music. The American writer, George Henry Miles, 1824-1871 under the pseudonym Ernest Halphin wrote it with the intent to inspire the Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War that God would be with them. It was also written to distinguish the Southern national culture as unique and to counter the Union’s newly written “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

“God Save the South” was the first song published in the Confederate states since the Ordinance of Secession and was later included in the Confederate Hymnal as the National Anthem for the Confederate states.

According to the Library of Congress, the collection of the music “God Save the South” published by Miller and Bracham, Baltimore, Maryland, has five different items called “God Save the South” attributed to three different composers with not all of them naming the author of the words. Two of the five items have slightly different covers from the same publisher, Miller and Bracham with words and music by Ernest Halphin. Another arrangement merely states by Ernest Halphin. Another edition, which appeared two years later, has music by Charles W.A. Ellerbrock and words by Halphin. Lastly, composer C.T. DeCoeniel also wrote another tune for “God Save the South” after Ellerbrock’s original which gained popularity at the time.

Your music presented for appraisal found within an 1863 newspaper by picture alone cannot be verified as authentic without a hands-on examination as to the actual age of the paper, whether a reproduction or not. By picture alone no actual wear is evident. From the review of what exists at the Library of Congress, I feel the cover does not match the pages of the song since the cover credits Ernest Halphin with both writing and composing the Anthem while the top right of the first page states C.T. DeCoeniel composed it. I believe we have parts of two different versions of music here and I would recommend the help of a certified appraiser in your area to help unravel this mystery.

Your question as to the misspelling of the word “published” resonates with the times. Poor education led to many words being misspelled and spelled as one heard them. In regards to value of early Civil War music, which can run from several to several hundred dollars, market value is based on age, theme, composers, and rarity. Confederate music originating in the South does tend to be more rare and costly than that of the North.

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