Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Hitler's Tea Service--and so much more.

Anniston, Alabama
Country Court RV Park

How do I begin to tell you what a great adventure today was?  Last fall when I registered for the Escapade I started looking for interesting things to see on the way.  Most people plot a course and reserve RV parks.  I am unconventional.  

I always check out Roadsideamerica.com.  How I came across this place is beyond me, but are we ever glad I did.  

 We made a trip once to Washington DC just to see the Spy Museum.  Today was so much better than the one in Washington.  

So where did we go?  The Berman Museum in Anniston.  Remember we were coming across the Gulf of Mexico and heading for St. Augustine and Savannah.  After deciding that we didn't want to pass this up, we are just south of Chatanooga in Anniston, Alabama.  We will zag south again tomorrow and try to get somewhat back on course for Vermont.  

We arrived 5 minutes after they opened.  I couldn't believe they only charged $4.50 a person.  For future reference, I didn't see any RV parking.  There was bus parking and if they weren't busy, you could probably park sideways across the car spaces.

I took 161 photos today and then just put the camera away. Photos will not do this place justice.  

Here's what was posted on the wall explaining this fabulous collection.
     The Berman Museum is the culmination of more than four decades of collecting activity by Colonel Farley Berman and his wife Germaine.  The couple traveled the world to accumulate their 6,000-plus piece collection of art and artifacts.  

    Their story begins during World Was II when Colonel     Berman was stationed in North Africa.  The Colonel was in military intelligence and Germaine was a French National and a member of the French Intelligence.  As Berman later recalled, "I was spying on her, and she was spying on me." They were married in 1945 and returned to Anniston, Colonel Berman's birthplace, to make their home where they would live for the remainder of their lives. 

Berman remained secretive as to how and where he collected over 6,000 items.  I guess once a spy always a spy.

This is the opening of the museum.  Do you know anything that makes Bill happier than walking into a place that starts with the American West?

If you appreciate fine firearms you'll love this ivory Winchester.

We've been to the NRA, the Western Heritage, Saunders Museum and in Cody but this place is right up their with the rest of them. I was impressed that you could easily read the descriptions.

This was manufactured in 1875.  A strange form of brass knuckles.
This 10 shot palm pistol was manufactured circa 1883.  I can't believe the leather "purse" was still like new.

Besides a great collection of firearms, there was a bronze collection by  artists such as Remington and Russell to name a couple.

You're probably expecting guns like this disguised in a book, but the spy guns were so much better.
Have you seen a gear shift knob gun before?

A gun inside a tin of cough drops.
A single shot gun in a box of matches.

A silver plated belt buckle that has four barrels.

How about a cigar or a gun?

A tire gauge that is also a gun.
Pipe with a gun circa 1940.

How about a screwdriver that is a gun?
Is this where James Bond got the idea--filled with teargas?

This is a wallet with a built in gun.

 Another shooting belt buckle.

A key that works and shoots.  Now I know why the TSA has so many long lines at the airports.  Can you imagine trying to find these weapons as a TSA employeee?  I'm not flying anymore.  

Can you imagine having Napoleon's camp service plate?

These are not replicas.  This cased dressing set has 18 ivory pieces that Napoleon used while Emperor of France.  We're talking around 1803!  There's even a carved soapstone of Alexander the Great that Napoleon carried into battle as a good luck charm.

This engraved dagger from the 15th century has five separate sections on the blade.  

Bill was grinning the whole time even though there wasn't anywhere except one bench to sit on and take a breather.

This was a collection in itself of armor from different time periods. 
Leonardo De Vinci invented this rake gun.  

How about a jeweled golden crown from the Czech Kings which was made in 1346?

This Scimitar of Abbas I who ruled the Persian Empire from 1588-1629 had 1295 diamonds and 31 rubies which totaled 50 carats.  It also had an emerald weighing between 10 and 11 carats and had 3 pounds of gold.  Now lets see 60 carats of jewels and 3 pounds of gold and that isn't the most expensive part of this dagger.

All of this and much much more and we still have another floor of the museum.  I had already forgotten about finding Hitler's Tea Service.  

As we got off the elevator there was an Asian exhibit off to the left but we decided to go right.  

At this point we are almost on overload and still haven't found the tea service.

We decide to skip this section of Asian artifacts.

The upstairs section had a military exhibit.

Look what is in the middle of the German section.
Yeah! Success! It's Hitler's Tea Service.
You can't see this from the photo but there is his crystal serving pieces used by him from 1933-1945.  There is a silver grape scissor used to remove small clusters from grapes.  I'm sure everyone has one of these in their kitchen.  
Notice these items are just behind a roped off area.

I loved this gun that shoots from the trenches without exposing the shooter.

This is a face mask used to protect crewmen inside tanks from metal splinters and lead splash when it was hit with machine gun fire.

Have you seen periscope binoculars before?

I just couldn't believe there would be anything else that would astound me until I saw Mussolini's campaign medallions.

This bell pull which summoned the servants was removed from Mussolini's palace after his capture by the Italians.  
Here's the original photographs of Mussolini's parents.

Mussolini Sword.

Japanese flag to give good luck, good flight, good health and safety for soldier.  

This is a tiny glimpse of this remarkable collection by one couple.  Farley Berman never would tell anyone where he acquired all these artifacts.  I'm sure as a spy, if he was ever tortured, he wouldn't give up any secrets.  

Sometimes the best treasures we find on the road aren't the things you'd expect.  Today's find will never be forgotten by either of us.  

I hope someday you'll be able to visit this museum.  Even if you aren't a museum person like we are, I think you'd enjoy it.

PS  Aren't you glad I didn't share all 161 photos?

Turtle Safely......

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