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1874 ORDNANCE DEPARTMENT ORDERS – COMPLETE BOUND SET OF ALL ORDERS ISSUED THAT YEAR BY THE ORDNANCE DEPARTMENT – A UNIQUE OFFERING IDENTIFIED TO AN ORDNANCE OFFICER ASSIGNED TO THE WATERVLIET ARSENAL:  Absolutely a one of a kind offering, this bound volume was created by James H. Rollins, Captain of Ordnance, US Army, who was on duty at the Watervliet Arsenal in 1874.   Capt. Rollins collected and retained each of the 74 Ordnance Orders issued by the department during the course of 1874 and at the end of the year had the orders protected in this leather bound volume.   

Each of the Ordnance Orders nominally consists of one page, with some exceptions being longer, each is countersigned in red ink by Rollins indicating his receipt of the order, and each page shows evidence of unique folds where the Captain folded the order to keep it safely in his pocket or valise until he could put it in his file in preparation of having the set bound.  Some pages show more wear than others, obviously carried in his pockets longer than other pages.  This unique wear pattern on each of the pages illustrates to me how dedicated he was to his project.   

According to the Historical Register and Dictionary of the U.S. Army, Volume 1, by Heitman (page 844), Captain James Hickman Rollins was born in Missouri.  He graduated from the US Military Academy in the class of 1857 and was assigned to the artillery.  He transferred to the Ordnance Department in 1863 and continued to serve in that department until his retirement in 1883.  Capt. Rollins died in 1898.   

Some of the content of these orders is quite mundane as you can imagine, being of the nature of housekeeping issues, leaves and transfers and in one case a black bordered page reporting the death of Brigadier General A. B. Dyer, Chief of Ordnance, in May of that year.  However, a number of the Ordnance Orders deal with subjects of great interest to collectors including the trial of the Schofield Smith and Wesson revolvers; the original price list for Colts Revolvers, and the Springfield .45 caliber Carbine and Rifle; establishment of the Board for Examining Infantry Equipment at Ft. Leavenworth; establishing nomenclature for arms and ammunition on invoices; appropriations from Congress for the manufacture of arms and equipment; regulations governing the sale of rifles to officers; and the formation of the board of officers to examine the “cause of the tearing off of cartridge heads in the new model arms”.   The volume measures 8 ¾” by 6 ½” and is leather bound along the spine and the outer corners of the front and back covers.  The title is embossed on the spine in gold leaf, and the binder’s label is present inside the rear cover, showing the book was created in Troy, New York, location of the Watervliet Arsenal.  The binding is tight with no loss of integrity and no damage to the pages.  The covers and spine are scuffed, but intact and overall clean.   

In addition to the historic content of the individual orders, this volume, bound as one complete set, presents as an extremely unique – very likely one of a kind – and very interesting Ordnance Department collectable, with the added values of having a firm identification to the officer who conceived of the idea and owned the book, and the significance of the year of publication of the orders being coincidental to the introduction of the new model firearms and many new accoutrements and pieces of horse equipment.  This piece should be in an advanced Springfield or Ordnance Department collection.  SOLD


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