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Archives program to feature local collector

Posted: November 11, 2010 3:47 p.m.
Updated: November 12, 2010 5:00 a.m.
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One of the items collector Ross Beard will share in his Nov. 21 talk at the Camden Archives and Museum will be this 1724 child's flintlock rifle from France. Beard bought the beautifully carved small rifle while travleing in France in his 20s.

Local collector Ross E. Beard Jr. will be the featured speaker Nov. 21 at 2 p.m. at a special program at the Camden Archives and Museum.

Visitors will have an opportunity to tour the facility and see the improvements that have taken place since the most recent expansion. In addition, Beard, a well-known, avid collector of various memorabilia and artifacts, will make a presentation on the importance and fun of collecting. He will bring with him and have on display from his and other collections a number of rare and unusual items, many of which have never before been available for public viewing.

"For over 70 years, I have enjoyed the fun and excitement of collecting and preserving pieces of history.  In recent years, I have also found great joy and satisfaction in placing these items in museums and on display for the enjoyment of people who are interested. I sincerely feel that if we don’t understand, appreciate and preserve our past, we cannot build a better tomorrow," said Beard.

Items Beard will share will include extremely rare weapons as well as rare books and documents from his retained personal collections and from the S. C. Military Museum where the vast majority of his collections are now housed and displayed. Highlights of the Nov. 21 event will include a very unusual “cross-eyed shotgun” from Germany, experimental military weapons and a copy of Adolph Hitler’s infamous “Commando Order” (only three copies issued). Also, Beard will show several pieces from his extensive “Carbine” Williams collection and items from FBI agent Melvin Purvis, the man and team who brought down gangster John Dillinger. Other items will be spears from the Zulu wars and some extremely rare items from Capt. Peter Mason, the British commando who was the official assassin for the Queen of England during World War II.

 “There are still so many, many treasures and items of historical importance in homes across the country.  Some people know they are historically important, but unfortunately, others -- after a death in the family or a move to another home -- so often throw out things of great importance causing  items that are both monetarily and historically valuable to be lost forever," said Beard.

Stressing not only the importance but also the joy of collecting and preserving these items, Beard added, "I enjoy the 'hunt' of the collecting process and the stories related to the hunt. Every time I find and add a new item for my collections, it is as exciting as if it were the first item I ever found. I want to share and encourage that excitement."

Archives Director Howard Branham credited Frank Goodale, chairman of the Archives Commission, for suggesting the program and coordinating the program with Beard. "The mission of the Camden Archives and Museum is to 'preserve the past for the future.' It is most appropriate that we all be reminded of the critical importance of collecting and preserving. We hope folks will come by Nov. 21, visit the archives, enjoy our displays and learn from Ross," said Branham.

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