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Old 9th June 2019, 03:38 AM   #1
Jim McDougall
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Join Date: Dec 2004
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Default Early Collecting Days and Bannerman Castle

The collecting of antique arms is a phenomenon which was around in some degree for many years, but from its beginnings of nobles gathering war trophies, became one of the common soldier bringing home souvenirs from campaigns.

In 1858 the Bannerman family began a surplus business in Brooklyn . N.Y. and in 1865 after the Civil War ended, began buying tons of military surplus equipment. This burgeoning business by 1897 had grown so much that at the outbreak of the Spanish American war in 1898, volunteers for American service were outfitted largely from Frank Bannerman's huge surplus business.

In 1900 Bannerman purchased Pollopel Island north of N.Y. in the Hudson River as an arsenal for storing the tons of munitions accumulated, and about 1901 began constructing a castle and other buildings. In 1918 Bannerman passed bt construction kept going until 1920 when a black powder explosion destroyed a portion of the castle.
The family kept selling militaria in catalogs for many years, but in 1950 when the ferry that provided access to the island sank in a storm, the island was abandoned. The ruins still stand.

What is pertinent about the Bannerman tale, is that these weapons that filtered through these premises became in degree prevalent in the growing pastime of collecting old and often exotic arms.
By the time I began collecting in earnest in the 60s (I had already bought bayonets from barrels in army surplus stores in the 50s) many weapons which became the offerings in mail order catalogs may have been in 'collecting circulation' for years and possibly from this source.

Over time, it sees that a number of weapons were even marked with the Bannerman name. On a M1902 US army sword, featured in the 1927 catalog was stamped BANNERMANS MILITARY GOODS N.Y.

In other cases there have been briquets of the c.1800 form with cast brass hilts used by virtually most European armies, and on the blades.
WARtd Wd CAS......the small letters raised and underlined in a style of abbrev known as superscript often seen on Mexican weapons and others in England etc.

A Toledo bayonet is marked;
ARTa FABa DE TOLEDO 1895

Apparently before the Spanish American war, Bannerman was buying volumes of Spanish surplus arms from Cuba, and after the war they were buying the huge volume of weapons captured. This may well account for huge numbers of Spanish colonial weapons which have circulated for generations here in the US.

These same marks were found on the blade of an aceh pedung, and others which reveals being remounted in other contexts. It seems Bannerman was creating their own weapons in some degree, while selling the volume of bring backs and surplus gatherings.

I am wondering if readers and collectors out there have encountered examples of weapons which may have had some contact or provenance through the Bannerman filter. I would appreciate very much any illustrations and or examples.
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