BANNERMAN MILITARY GOODS CATALOGUE, 1933

$65.00 SOLD

Quantity Available: None

Item Code: 172-4919

This is the famed Francis Bannerman Sons catalogue filled with surplus war equipment - antiques and modern cannon, pistols, muskets, rifles, saddles, uniforms, swords, and ammunition. Image on cover is of Bannerman’s castle, which functioned as his store.

Catalog measures 8 ¾” x 11 ½” x ¾”. Contains 355 pages.

Born in Scotland in 1851, Francis Bannerman IV grew up in New York as the son of a salesman who specialized in reselling goods bought at local auctions. The junior Francis started picking up lots of goods himself and selling them in smaller pieces to collectors of curios, relics, and interesting items. Then he discovered government surplus. After the Civil War ended in 1865, a young Mr. Bannerman started bidding on huge lots of captured Confederate guns, often winning as many as 11,000 at a time. When those stockpiles were sold out, he kept in touch with the Army, and every time the Ordnance Corps adopted a new piece of equipment, the wily New Yorker showed up with his checkbook sniffing around stores of recently replaced surplus gear.

In the 1870s, he bought as many as 200,000 Springfield muskets and sold them for $5 each, keeping the same price on them until they sold out in the 1930s. When the army switched from black powder cannons to more modern smokeless powder breech loading guns in the 1890s, he was there again and paid scrap iron prices for guns ranging in size from small Parrott field guns to giant US Navy 16-inch cannons. Most cannons in towns came from Bannermans and were installed around 1900—he sold thousands of these weapons to villages, veterans groups, and the like for a slight profit. In 1942, they were still selling Civil War-era Spencer carbines for $2, having bought them for just 35-cents the century before. The business grew so much that by 1905 they had taken over nearly a whole block of Broadway, amounting to over 40,000 square feet of floor space. When this filled up, Bannerman bought a 7-acre island in the Hudson River 50 miles north of the city. On this island arms depot, he built a huge castle from cement bought at a surplus auction, filled it with enough arms to take over several countries, and built a breakwater made from thousands of Springfield musket barrels banded together.

Bannerman died in 1918 and by the 1940’s the company was in decline. In the 1960’s the NYPD bomb squad and the Army took most of the remaining inventory and burned it up, blew it up, or sank it in the harbor. The island sat moldering and was given to the Taconic Park Commission in 1967.  [sl]

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