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SPRINGFIELD ARMORY MEMORIAL PRINT WHICH HUNG IN THE ARMORY OFFICER’S CLUB - GUARANTEED ARTIFACT FROM THE FAMOUS US ARMORY:  One of very few historic pieces that survived the closing of the National Armory in Springfield, Massachusetts, this print of a 19TH Century pen and ink rendering of the Springfield Armory headquarters building once hung in the armory’s officer club.   

When the US Army closed the armory and the property was transferred to the city of Springfield, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the National Park Service, none of those entities expressed any interest in preserving the material culture of the armory, and the bulk of those pieces were perfunctorily consigned to a scrap heap destined for destruction.  This episode was nothing less than a “perfect storm”, occurring during an era of our nation’s history when the military was regarded with distain, and in a location situated in the epicenter of one of our country’s greatest concentrations of anti-gun sentiment.  Little, if any, thought was given to preserving intact the most significant keystone in the history of America’s firearm production, and the cavalier manner in which these artifacts were treated leaves little doubt about the attitude held by the people involved towards firearms and our military history.  This shortsightedness represented a genuine loss to the community of scholars and collectors, and was nothing short of a crying shame, but it was done nonetheless.        

Fortunately, a very few pieces survived due to the awareness of the last Captain of Ordnance stationed at the Springfield Armory, R. Stephen Dorsey.  Obtained directly from his estate, Dorsey enjoyed this print and its history as it hung in his dining room – appropriately, adjacent to his liquor cabinet.  While assigned to the armory in his primary military specialty as an Ordnance officer, one of Dorsey’s collateral duties was serving as the “club officer”.  Generally regarded as a less than desirable assignment, the club officer was responsible for staffing the club with the various required wait staff – often off duty enlisted men and civilian employees who sought these choice jobs as a source of extra income, ordering the supplies for the dining room and bar, and performing all the other tasks associated with maintaining and running any other social club.  When the armory progressed through the process of being closed and the fixtures were being disposed of, rather than see this print consigned to the refuse heap as so much of the armory’s material history, Dorsey removed this print from the wall of the bar where it had hung for as long as anyone could remember, and took it with him as he locked the doors of the club for the last time.   

When this print was produced, and what was the significance of the signatures that were applied to the surrounding matte, unfortunately was lost in the passage of time.  None of the long term civilian employees could remember what event it commemorated, nor when it appeared in the club, just that it had been there for as long as anyone could recall.  That many of the signatures were written with ball point pens, and the style of the penmanship, I would lean towards thinking that this piece was created sometime between the 1930’s and 1960’s.  Perhaps someone with the time and interest to research the names on this piece insofar as their association with the armory could narrow down the date to a more specific range.     

With the matte, the print measures 14” high and 11” wide, with the outside of the frame measuring 20” high and 16” wide.  The frame and glass are characteristic of the standard institutional frames which have been available on the commercial market since the early 20TH Century.    

While we attempted, and succeeded in most cases, to get letters written to capture the story behind the historical pieces in Stephen’s collection, this print did not come to mind until after his passing.  So, it is left to me to provide the story as Stephen shared it with me on one of the several visits I made to his home.  I can attest to the source of this print and can assure you it was one of Stephen’s favorite souvenirs of his time at Springfield Armory.   

This is a rare offering of a unique piece of Springfield Armory memorabilia, and one that enhance a collection of Springfield arms.  The unusual nature of this print and its history as a piece of “household furnishings” transcends the normal association with a particular era or model of rifle, and it will be appropriate displayed with Springfield arms from any period of the National Armory’s history.  (0938)  $250













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