#9348 - SAVING PRIVATE RYAN?
Actually, this is "Saving Private Grate," a 19-year old who served with the 104-th Ohio Infantry through much of the Civil War. I recently obtained an ambrotype of eager young Curtis in uniform holding his musket "at arms". However, to my surprise, I discovered two curious rolled sheets of thick paper tossed in the bottom of the shipping box. (?) Lo and behold, when I spread them out, they were Grate's lithographic post-War "Testimonial" sheet which recounted his Civil War service in colorful detail. Formerly, this dazzling document was likely displayed in the old soldier's home. But, over the ensuing decades it was taken down and tossed in an attic or basement. Now, the sheet was torn in half, covered in yellowed Scotch tape strips and even missing small sections. I sat for a minute wondering what I would do with this unexpected arrival: a) to store it, b) to toss it out, or c) to spend many hours trying to restore it. As a dealer, there was no money in fixing-up such a torn, tattered post-War document... However, as a history buff with a soft-spot for real personal stories from our past, the answer was clear! "Just Do It!" I sat down, unfurled the two halves, and carefully realigned them onto an acid-free foam board. Fitting in little fragments from the bottom of the box was like working a jigsaw puzzle. Lastly, I spent long evenings carefully using fine colored markers to touch-up numerous cracks, scuffs and empty holes. With the project completed, I feel a real deep satisfaction. I have helped to save this memorial to a proud, young American warrior: Curtis Grate. I will place it in a fancy old frame and hang the soldier's ambrotype photo beside it in order to lend a real face to our American Heritage. In this crazy world, we can't lose sight of our heroes, both past or present. And Curtis surely walked the walk.
This item is NOT for sale