At the end of our offerings in our on-line store are several items from the Hagerstown G.A.R. Hall. Most have an identification tag attached. These tags are embossed with the Hall Seal and were written and typed by volunteer members.
The Post Hall had extensive collections with much of it coming from the ANTIETAM Battlefield or having an Antietam connection. Many pieces in the collection were acquired for the Hall by the now legendary early collector and Antietam Battlefield guide O. T. Reilly. There is a lot of information on him available on the internet.
Reilly met the trains bringing visitors and veterans to the area and convinced many vets at reunions to donate personal memorabilia to the Hall. There was a collection of battlefield pick-ups and relics. There was a large gun collection (not limited to the Civil War). There were many mementos and relics donated by members, friends, and local farmers who found things in their fields as they worked. The Hall collection was huge.
The Hall really promoted their collection and the Antietam Battle. They had displays that members took to surrounding schools and showed and talked about to students. Items were displayed in stores, banks, and office building windows for special occasions and some patriotic holidays. They placed relic boards in the area train stations as well. Clearly everything would have to be labeled and identified not only for displays in the Hall but also for these outside displays.
What we know about this collection in the 20th century is that the last surviving member of the Hall became the custodian and owner of the collection. When he passed away his family inherited it and stored it for many years. Finally a prominent collector from the Philadelphia area bought the collection and moved it to his property.
Some prominent Civil War collectors and dealers from Northern Virginia, Eastern Pennsylvania, and Maryland knew of the collection and yet none of it was for sale. A few years ago the collector/owner passed away and his heirs have been gradually selling the collection.
During the many years of storage and moving about some items were ruined or lost, some tags came loose and were lost or misplaced. But much has survived.
It is our pleasure to offer some of these historic items for sale on this website. As we are able to acquire additional pieces from the Hall we will offer them to you, our valued customers. Thus far we have sold over 200 items from the Hall and know of others who have sold many as well. Williamsburg archaeologist Ivor Noel Hume said “The past will not stand and wait for an audience. It slips away like the morning mist before the sunrise”
This is why, for the collector, artifacts are so interesting and important. It’s what is called the romance of the past. By touching, possessing, treasuring these pieces we come into intimate contact with that elusive past. After all the past is by far most of what we have. The future is unknown and the present is an instant that in a moment is the past. For our past and history we have only:
1. Our memories
2. The recorded memories of others
3. The things materials, objects, arts, etc. of the past.
These are our only 3 sources and for the collector, the things of the past prevail. Have fun collecting and touching the past.