For the first time in two decades, the NRA Gun Collectors Committee presented the prestigious National Treasure Award to a pair of exceptional historically significant firearms at the Maryland Arms Collectors Association's 64th Annual Baltimore Antique Arms Show on Saturday, March 17, 2018.
NRA Museums' Director Jim Supica, Senior Curator Phil Schreier, and Firearms Specialist Logan Metesh pose with the pistols and Colonel George Washington (portrayed by Fort Ligonier's Assistant Director of Education Matthew Gault) at the medal presentation ceremony.
The award is reserved for arms that meet stringent historical and grading criteria, including condition, rarity, artistry, authenticity, and more. Historical significance is heavily weighted by the prominence of the past owners of the firearm, and their collective positive contribution to the American experience. Until this presentation, only three medals have been awarded.
Past recipients of the National Treasure Award include a New Haven Arms Company Henry rifle, serial number 6, which was presented to President Abraham Lincoln; a pair of Colt U.S. Model 1847 Walker revolvers, serial numbers 1009 and 1010, which were presented personally from Col. Samuel Colt to Capt. Samuel H. Walker, who designed the improved revolver that became the first revolver adopted by the U.S. government and insured Colt's future as an arms maker; and a pair of Colt Model 1861 revolvers engraved by Gustave Young, serial numbers 12400 & 12401, presented from the Colt factory to General Robert Anderson, defender of Fort Sumter at the outbreak of the Civil War.
National Treasure Award Medal #4 was presented to a pair of saddle pistols purchased by a young Marquis de Lafayette in Europe and brought to America when he volunteered to fight for the United States. During the American Revolution, Lafayette presented the pair to General George Washington, who all but adopted him as a son. Washington is believed to have carried them at Valley Forge, Monmouth, Yorktown, and during the Whiskey Rebellion when he was president. He cherished the pistols until his death in 1799. Later, the weapons were given to General Andrew Jackson, who called them "sacred and holy relics" and prized them throughout his presidency. Jackson then bequeathed the pistols back to the Lafayette family.
The guns were purchased at auction in 2002 and have been on permanent display since 2005 at Fort Ligonier in Ligonier, Pennsylvania. For more info about the fort, call (724) 238-9701 or visit www.fortligonier.org.