Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Gem of a Museum

I found a little jewel of a museum in the sleepy little town of Anniston, Al. If you're wondering, Anniston is about 2 hours outside of Atlanta, GA.

It's called the Berman Museum and guess what? It was founded by two honest to God spies. How cool is that? But wait, it gets better. The man, Farley Berman, worked as a spook for the CIA before it became the CIA. He was assigned to watch a French spy named Germaine. She, in turn, was assigned to watch him. That's how they met, then fell in love and then married. I absolutely love the story. They retired to Anniston (where he was originally from) and that is how this lovely museum ended up there.

Over the years they amassed one of the most amazing collections I've ever seen. All of it was kept in their home until right before they died. Your eyes will pop out when I tell you what they have there. There is no way that every thing was gained in a legit manner. I suspect a little black market stuff went on, but that's just my opinion. Over half of the collection is still kept in a vault and most of that will never be seen by the public.

So what did they have? (As always, click to enlarge the pics for better detail!)

The most amazing things to me were:

a. Adolf Hitler's Tea Service - When the looting during WWII occurred, this little gem made it's way to the States. Notice the engraved A.H. on everything and the Eagle and swastika. I am a tea fanatic and have quite a large collection of tea cups and pots, but nothing as pretty as this service.

This pic doesn't do it justice.

The Silver

b. Napoleon's Dressing Set - This set was with Napoleon in his exile on the island of St. Helena. The detail around the mirror is something to behold. It was very surreal gazing at myself in the mirror that he looked at every morning as he dressed. It is made of hand carved ivory. I always pictured him as sitting in a stone chamber with nothing but a cot and a bucket. Obviously his imprisonment was quite a bit nicer than I thought.


Notice the tweezers. Think he plucked his nose hair with those?

c. The spy guns were amazing. There was a belt buckle gun, throat lozenge gun, flute gun, pipe gun, tire gauge gun, etc. Most of those shot a .22 caliber bullet. There was also a fountain pen that shot tear gas.

Check out the screwdriver gun

d. The Coronation Crown and sceptor of the Czech republic.

e. Mussolini's Sword, bell pull that was by his bedside, his parents photos that were on his night stand, many of his medals and the original photo that was taken by American soldiers about an hour after he was hanged. This became an incredibly famous photo.

The Sword

Ma & Pa Mussolini

f. Stuff I don't have a pic of - a pair of executioner's swords from China, The Sword of one of the Persian Kings that was encrusted with tons of diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires. There was also numerous oil paintings, Remington bronzed sculptures of the old west, about a bazillion types of guns from every war and the old west.

I could go on and on. We had our own personal tour guide. We were pretty much the only visitors so one of the employees walked around with us and told us the stories of a lot of the stuff on display. If you ever get a chance to go see this, do. I was absolutely amazed. Fabulous!
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