Antique and Collectable Firearms and Militaria Headquarters


Antique and Collectable Firearms and Militaria Headquarters
Number 1, July 5, 2001
Celebrating Five Years Of Service To Our Collector Friends!
copyright 2001 All rights reserved


Feature Article:

Summer Travel Recommendations for the Firearms or Military History Enthusiast

Summer is a great opportunity to visit interesting places you always wanted to see, either in your local area, or many miles away.  Tell your skeptical friends that you are going to visit historic sites and learn more about the men and artifacts that have won and protected our great country's freedom.

If your family does not fully share your enthusiasm historical places, you may want to squander some time and money at Rodent World or other frivolous places to satisfy the spouse and kids, or at least treat them to some good meals.

Here are a few highly recommended sites in different parts of the country:

New England

Springfield, Mass- Springfield Armory Museum- run by the National Park Service with extremely well done history of the Armory and its role in arming the U.S. military from 1795 until its closure for political reasons about 1970. The best U.S. martial arms collection in the world. Great exhibits, interesting video, comfy chairs, clean rest rooms.  Free.  Must see this one!  (413)734-8551  Drop the family off at the Basketball Hall of Fame if they protest “Not ANOTHER gun place!”

Windsor, VT- American Precision Museum-  In the old Robbins & Lawrence factory building that has close ties to Sharps rifles, M1841 “Mississippi” rifle contracts, and the place that got the Brits into the interchangeable parts business in 1856.  Lamson, Goodnough & Yale made muskets here during the Civil War. A small section of a working rifle making factory is set up along with lots of stuff devoted to machine tools (lathes, milling machines, shapers, planers, etc.).  Neat, historic, nice town off the beaten track.  (802)674-5781.  Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory tour is about 2 hours north, further away from anywhere.

West Point, NY- U.S. Military Academy Museum-  Great exhibits, and being around the Cadets makes you proud to be an American and confident in the future of our Army.

Mid Atlantic
Valley Forge, PA- Valley Forge Military Park-  No kneeling in the snow to pray this summer, but be sure to see the George Neumann collection of Revolutionary War arms at the visitor center.  (610)783-1077

Philadelphia, PA- Penn's landing- USS Olympia- Dewey's flagship at Manila Bay nicely preserved.  along with WW2 submarine USS Becuna.  (215)925-5439.

Gettysburg. PA- Gettysburg battlefield- Very historic, very commercial, but worth the stop anyway.  Rent the movie (Gettysburg or Pickett's Charge??) and watch it before you go, and let the kids see where it really happened at the Round Tops, Devil's, Den, and Cemetery Ridge.  No drinking from Spangler's Spring.  The Virginia battlefields are better in my opinion, but again, study up before you go.  Check out the guides by my old professor, Dr. Jay Luvaas.

Aberdeen, MD- Army Ordnance Museum-  Aberdeen Proving Grounds-  You gotta see the "mile of tanks" along the entrance road as well as the museum.  Just about anything that goes "bang" is included here.  Sadly, many early tanks and artillery pieces are displayed outdoors where they are rusting away, so see them as soon as you can.

Fairfax, VA- NRA Headquarters- National Firearms Museum-.  Probably the most appealing gun museum in the country.  Great stuff with superb presentation that even non-gun lovers will enjoy.  Free, 10-4 daily except major holidays.  If not a NRA member, you should sign up while you are there.  Special Beretta display going on this summer.  Excellent cafeteria just across the driveway is open to the public. Located in clean and safe Fairfax, not in crime plagued and filthy Washington, DC where victims are prevented from arming themselves.  (703)-267-1600

Washington, DC- Smithsonian-  Been a while since we visited there, but the Air and Space museum has a wonderful section on military aviation.  The History museum had some excellent Revolutionary war exhibits, but I understand that the "politically correct" management is embarrassed by the people and material that won and defends our freedom, so I am not sure what is left.

Washington, DC- Washington Navy Yard-  Located in a bad section of DC but a great place once you get there.  Visit a destroyer (DD-931 class) that is open to the public.  Lots of great Navy Displays in the old Naval Gun factory, not just ordnance related.  The U.S. Marine Corps Historical Center and Museum is also located in the Navy Yard. (202) 433-4882

Quantico, VA- USMC Air-Ground Museum- right off I-95, about two miles into the Marine base and around the corner from where the President's "Marine One" helicopter lives.  Very interesting, with emphasis on WW1 and more recent.  Lots of neat stuff from small arms to planes and tanks. 703-784-2606

Newport News, VA- Mainers' Museum-  the best nautical museum in the country, and one of the best in the world.  Figure heads (some nekkid women!) are impressive.  Your mind will really boggle at the unbelievable detail and beauty of the miniature ship models done by August Crabtree.  Worth the visit for those alone.  Also have the propeller from USS Monitor there.  Allow several hours to enjoy this one.

Fort Lee, VA- U.S. Army Quartermaster Museum-  (Off I-95 south of Richmond).  Really cool collection of uniforms and other stuff that the QMC takes care of (food, etc.).

Fort Eustis, VA-  U.S. Army Transportation Corps Museum-  (Off I-64 just east of Williamsburg).  Trucks, trains, half-tracks, etc. nicely displayed, a lot more to this than most people realize.  Look for signs along I-64 for Pierce's BBQ.  Get the BBQ sandwich with coleslaw on it.  (Sounds weird, but tastes great!)

Williamsburg- Colonial Williamsburg-  Pricey and often crowded, but undoubtedly the best interpretation of the Colonial era anywhere.  You will love the gunsmith and the powder magazine and the rest of the family will find things they like even better.

Fayetteville, NC- Ft. Bragg-  Airborne & Special Operations Museum-   (Have not seen this one, but supposed to be excellent)

Charleston, SC area-  Aircraft Carrier Yorktown military museum is nice.  Make sure you get out to Fort Moultrie.  This has the complete evolution of coastal defense fortifications and armament nicely exhibited. This is where they fired the first shot at Ft. Sumter.  Fort Wagner on the southern side of the harbor (nothing left to see), is the place depicted in "Glory".  Rent the video before you go.  Boat ride to Fort Sumter is marginally interesting.  California Dreaming restaurant is excellent and not expensive.  Park downtown by the "Battery Park" and walk around and peek into the gardens of the nearby homes.  Really beautiful. Let the spouse buy a "Charleston basket" from the ladies who make them in the Charleston market.

Savannah, GA-  Follow the driving tour for a good look at the beautifully restored sections of the city.  Fort Jackson is interesting and small.  Fort Pulaski on nearby Cockspur Island was where they proved that masonry forts were obsolete due to the introduction of rifled artillery firing explosive projectiles.  Thick walls, big cannons, big holes.  Artillery 1, Forts 0.

Fernandina Beach, FL-Fort Clinch-  (right across from the Georgia border on the Atlantic coast).  State run park with a neat old brick fort that is virtually unchanged from its earliest appearances.  The start of the "Sea Islands" which still preserve a distinctive way of life, as described in Pat Conroy or Eugenia Price.

(North GA, SW Tenn) Chickamauga-Chatanooga National Battlefield Fuller Collection-   Up north of Atlanta.  The finest U.S. martial arms collection on display outside of Springfield Armory and Rock Island Arsenal. Lookout Mountain battlefield tour gives new insights into the ferocity of fighting in difficult terrain.

Gulf Coast
Pensacola, FL- Naval Aviation Museum, NAS Pensacola.-  A big "Top Gun" F-14 out in front, but inside they have oodles of great planes and other aviation stuff.  IMAX theater (check the K-row of seats). (850) 452-3604   (Sonny's BBQ by the airport just off of I-10 is great, as are all the Sonnys' chain.  Redneck formal (shoes and shirt) and homely help, but great chow.)

Ft. Walton Beach, FL- Hurlburt Field- USAF Aircraft Armament Museum-   A number of great planes on display, but inside they really get into the armament that allows aircraft to kill people or break things.  Their extensive small arms collection is mostly a meaningless jumble but rest is well done. (850)882-4062

New Orleans, LA- National D-Day Museum- have not been to this one, but reports are that it is superb. (504) 527-6012

Great Plains & Mountain West
Cody, Wyoming (70 miles east of Yellowstone)- Buffalo Bill Historical Center- (home of the Cody Firearms Museum and Western art, Indian artifacts, etc.). One of the finest museum complexes in the country, and even without the superb Cody Firearms Museum (greatly expanded from the old Winchester factory collection) this would be well worth the visit.  Huge and varied collection of Indian items and western art (including most of Frederic Remington's studio) that is worth seeing in addition to the exceptionally well done gun displays.  You will need most of a day for this place.  Lots of touristy places in town but BBHC is the one you must see.  (307)587-4471  .  The drive west to Yellowstone is one of the most beautiful in the country.

Fort Laramie, WY-  Ft. Laramie National Historic Site-  Southwest of Mt. Rushmore, in the middle of nowhere, but really well done.  Gift shop has superb western military book selection. (307)837-2221

Fort Bridger, WY- Site of the old Mountain Man Rendezvous of the 1820-1840 fur trade era, with reenactment on Labor Day that is tremendous fun.  Bridger's fort and the later US Army post (1850-1890) are both preserved.  Just off I-80 exit 34.  (307)782-3842

Ogden, UT- Union Station Museum- John M. Browning Collection-  Has the workshop of John M. Browning, one of the greatest gun inventors ever, and his hand made prototypes of many of his famous models.  This guy invented the Winchester 1885, 1886, 1894 rifles, the 1897 shotgun, M1911 pistol, and .30 and .50 caliber Browning Machine guns, all of which are still being made today, virtually unchanged.  Other than dirt and water, there are not too many items that have been around that long that have not become obsolete.  Besides the gun stuff, they have extensive displays of trains, classic cars, pretty rocks and gems.  (801)629-8535  Several good gun or antique shops across the street.

Salt Lake City, UT- Fort Douglas Military Museum-  Excellent coverage of Utah military history 1862 to present with lots of good displays. Nice selection of cannons too.  (801) 581-1251

Dayton, OH- Air Force Museum- Wright Patterson Air Force Base.  Great place loaded with neat planes.  (937)255-3286

Rock Island, IL- Rock Island Arsenal Museum- Home of the Army's John M. Browning firearms museum with collection of martial arms second only to Springfield, plus other interesting items.  Reference notebooks with added information on the arms on display are very useful resource if you have special interests.  (309)782-5021

Fort Riley, KS- U.S. Cavalry Museum and the 1st Infantry Division Museum.   Well worth the visit.

Ft. Leavenworth, KS- Frontier Army Museum- Good variety and lots of horse drawn vehicles-


This is just a short list of many great places you might enjoy.
FIND MORE GREAT MUSEUMS with these links:

New Items At  (posted now or coming soon):

  • Several M1903 Springfield barreled actions with BRAND NEW military barrels.  Several nice Krags and trapdoors and an excellent WW1 M1911 Colt.
  • Lots of Japanese uniform items
  • Large lot of material from famous "Bannerman's Island Arsenal" (interview with a guy who worked there coming in next newsletter.)
  • Johnson Bayonets, great Civil War NCO sword and some nice M1905 bayonets.
  • Large lots of collectors ammo and books.
  • Top

    Darwin Award Nominee
    (Note: Darwin Awards are earned by those who remove themselves from the gene pool by extraordinarily stupid actions, demonstrating the survival of the fittest members of a species.)   Used courtesy of

    Dodging Drinking Dues
    2001 Darwin Award Nominee
    Unconfirmed by Darwin

    (15 May 2001, Cairo) Two whiskey-swilling men tried to dodge their bar tab by downing one last drink, jumping in the Nile, and swimming for the far shore. One, a 27-year-old taxi driver, misjudged his ability to stay afloat. He drowned en route, successfully avoiding paying the $180 bill. His companion reached the far shore a few hundred meters away, only to be arrested by police who had been summoned by the shortchanged nightclub employees.
    Next time you and your friends try to dodge a bar tab, don't drink yourself senseless first. You might die or, even more dreadful, be stuck with the entire bar tab!


    Military History Trivia (WW2 this time)

    1. The first German serviceman killed in the war was killed by the Japanese
    (China, 1937). The first American serviceman killed was killed by the
    Russians (Finland 1940). The highest-ranking American killed was Lt.
    Gen.Lesley McNair, killed by the US Army Air Corps. So much for allies.

    2. The youngest US serviceman was 12 year old Calvin Graham, USN. He was
    wounded in combat and given a Dishonorable Discharge for lying about his
    age. (His benefits were later restored by act of Congress)

    3. At the time of Pearl Harbor the top US Navy command was called CINCUS
    (pronounced "sink us"), the shoulder patch of the U.S. Army's 45th Infantry
    division was the Swastika, and Hitler's private train was named "Amerika"
    All three were soon changed for PR purposes.

    Top Site Insights - When Was Your Gun Made?

    Many people want to know when their gun was made.  While the only way to be absolutely certain is to get a letter from the manufacturer's records, a time consuming and expensive project.  However, for most purposes, you will be able to satisfy your curiosity by using the "date of manufacture" tool on the lower part of our left hand frame.  You will find instructions there on how to use it.  While based on the best available references, they are often off by plus or minus a year.

    Featured Collector Group- Garand Collectors Association
    Address: P.O. Box 187   Angola, IN  46703   $20 per year

    Main Area of Interest:  U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30 M1, the “Garand” and all its variations, accessories, markings, usage, etc.  Includes a few shooters as well as collectors.

    Geographic area of members:  Nationwide coverage.

    Publications:  GCA Newsletter,  quarterly,  24 pp glossy 8 ½ x 11 with many photos, detailed drawings; question and answer column, free for sale and wanted section for members.

    Meetings:  (occasional- in conjunction with major gun shows- Next one in Reno, NV 17-19 August 2001)

    Prominent Members:  Noted authors Scott Duff, Billy Pyle, Bruce Canfield

    Who should belong:  Certainly anyone who thinks that they might need more than a single M1 rifle in their collection.  Collectors of U.S. arms of the WW2 through Vietnam period should also seriously consider membership, as much info is applicable beyond just the context of the M1 rifle.

    Observations/comments/recommendations:  A great group of true collectors helping each other.  Especially good about alerting people to fakes and what to look for.  Leading members recognize that there is often a gap between what is stated in official documentation and the realities of what took place under military control.  Most articles are authoritative and valuable reference material.  Classified ads work well.  GCA actively supports the Springfield Armory Museum.  Good group to support even if you are only marginally interested in the M1 rifle.

    Membership Applications:  Send for application.


    This is the end of the Newsletter
     We hope it was useful or interesting.  We invite you to visit Antique and Collectable Firearms and Militaria Headquarters when you are ready to add to your collection, or even if you decide to sell all or part of it.

    John Spangler & Marc Wade


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