The 2024 Baltimore Antique Arms Show


Every March the Maryland Arms Collectors Association holds their annual antique arms show at the state fairgrounds in Timonium, Maryland. It’s a great time to search the show tables for interesting things, learn something new, and most importantly visit with like-minded friends and see people after a long winter. This year’s show didn’t disappoint. It truly is the best show of the year for me based upon the material that is for sale - I like the early stuff!

I drove down very early on Friday morning and arrived before the show opened for dealers. With most of them lined up waiting to get in it was an opportunity to find friends in line and chat a bit. Set-up is always a little chaotic as dealers make their trips in and out to gather their goodies to put out for sale, but it wasn’t too long before they were open for business. I normally wait a bit to walk the isles, but this year I got right into it. My age is catching up with me as my feet were killing me by Friday evening, but it was well worth the first walk around. I saw some cool early muskets, swords, as well as accoutrements I hadn’t seen before.

The evenings are a chance to have dinner with folks and return to the hotel lobby for a few cocktails and banter with fellow collectors and museum people. Both evenings I was there, we had some very interesting conversations about Revolutionary War canteens, arms, and other things that might bore the crap out of many people, but I found it fascinating, educational, and entertaining.

There is a worry in the collecting community that there are a lot of older folks and not a lot of younger people coming to the shows; There is a lot of attrition with some of the older dealers retiring or passing on. While most of the dealers are older, I always watch the crowd to see if there are younger people wandering the show. This year, the crowds were rather large, and the isles were filled with people. I saw many in their 20s to 50s, which was a positive sign the shows will go on. It does seem to me that a lot of the younger folks are collecting World War II and not the earlier material, although I did see some with Civil War items in their hands.

As I wanted to get home and see my wife and dogs, and get some work done before Monday morning, I left early Sunday with a slight hangover and a lot to ponder on the drive back. All in all, this year’s show was a lot of fun and well worth going. It was well attended by dealers as well as show goers, and I look forward to returning next year for more good historical stuff and evening shenanigans!


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