As a member of the American Society of Arms Collectors (ASAC), we have two meetings a year across the country. It can be tough with a busy work schedule to make all the meetings, and I hadn’t been to one since last year. This fall, the meeting was held in Dulles, Virginia and I flew down. It’s always a great chance to hang out with like-minded collectors and see some of the great historical items the members bring to display, and this one didn’t disappoint.
A few of us had set up a tour of the White House once we arrived with a member of the president’s military staff. I had never been, so it was a great opportunity for me. We went through the East Wing and the main floor, checking out the furnishings brought in by various presidents. The furniture in the main dining room with carved eagles was my favorite; it had belonged to Theodore Roosevelt. The portraits on the walls were also very impressive.
The next day we went to Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, for a tour around the house and property. I had been before, but it’s always a great learning experience walking on his property and visiting his tomb.
After the visit to Mount Vernon, we hopped on the busses and traveled the short distance to the National Museum of the United States Army at Ft. Belvoir. I hadn’t been there since it opened a few years ago and it was quite an experience. Some of the objects on display were sold to the army museum by friends and members of ASAC, and to see that much military material culture was fantastic! It’s worth the trip if you’re in the area.
After the trips, the hangout area is the collection room. It’s a ballroom in the hotel where members set up displays with objects from their collections. Sometimes it’s a single item, a group, or even a group display where multiple members put together a single display. Before the meeting is over, everyone votes on the best displays. It was really tough at this meeting as the quality of the displays was really good.
On a few of the days, members also give presentations on various subjects. Even if the topic isn’t in my sphere of collecting or interest, it’s always a chance to learn something new.
The last tour we took was at the NRA’s National Firearms Museum. I had never been to this museum either, so I was looking forward to seeing what was in the collection. As someone who is more into historical arms, I kind of skipped through the more modern hunting and sporting arms and went right into the Revolutionary War material. They have some very cool things that have been donated over the years, but to my surprise, the collection that really sparked my interest was the movie guns. While they own some, there are many that have been loaned. The M16 with a grenade launcher from Scarface and the Sharps rifle from Quigley Down Under were my favorites.
I was glad I took the time to go to the meeting. Great tours, great collections, and great company. I look forward to the next!