Browse Exhibits (2 total)


Firearms have been the primary weapon of choice among Eurpoeans and Americans in America since the 16th century. The George C. Neumann Collection exhibits a wide array of firearm technology and innovation from the 16th century to the early 19th century.

The firearms range from early Matchlocks and Wheel locks to advanced Flint Locks. What visitors can take away from this expansive collection is how social and cultural conditions in Europe and America pushed the evolution of firearm technologies. In America, firearm technology lagged behind Europe, largely because the manufacturing facilities and greater population density existed in Europe. But, conditions in America pushed the mother country to supply its colonists with the most up-to-date firearms as possible. The arms in the Neumann Collection will show how colonists protected themselves from Indian attack and from other Europeans on the battlefield and at sea.

**All information in the Exhibit Sections and Pages are taken from the below sources:

Brown, M.L.  Firearms in Colonial America: The Impact on History and Technology 1492-1792. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1980.

Neumann, George C. The History of Weapons of the American Revolution. New York: Bonanza Books, 1967.

Peterson, Harold L. Arms and Armor in Colonial America 1526-1783. New York: Bramhall House, 1956.



Swords and swordmaking are not fully appreciated today because both are antiquated objects and trades. But, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, both were important for several reasons to different people. For the civilian, a sword represented their social standing in society. For an officer, the sword represented both social standing and rank, but it also served him as a means of defending himself - and his honor - during a battle or a duel. Lastly, for the common soldier or sailor, the sword represented the last means of defense during close quarters combat. But, by the end of the eighteenth century, advances in bayonet technology forced the sword from all three societal circles.

This exhibit demonstrates that not all swords are the same. Although the international sword market mass produced swords for civilian and military use, owners took the liberty to personalize their sword. The shapes, sizes, and components are wonderfully diverse. The included swords also illustrate, based on the purpose of the sword, the economic component to the consumer sword market; officers and enlisted men did not carry the same type of sword into battle.

*All swords included were manufactured during the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries and many were used in during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783). Their countries of origin are many, including British North America/United States, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, and Germany.

**Exhibit, Section, and Item descriptions are all derived from two sources:

Neumann, George C. The History of Weapons of the American Revolution. New York: Bonanza Books, 1967.

Neumann, George C. Swords and Blades of the American Revolution. Harrisburg: Stackpole Books, 1973.