The “Old Line State” is famous for its blue crabs, horse racing and for 62 years, the finest antique arms show in the country. The “Baltimore Show”, as hosted by the Maryland Arms Collectors Association on the third weekend of March annually, is considered to be the finest arms show of its kind. With over 1,000 tables of the finest in collectable rifles, revolvers (pre-1898) and sporting shot guns, the Baltimore Show attracts thousands of serious collectors from across the globe. It is considered the “must attend” event of the gun collector year.
The Maryland Arms Collectors Association, Inc.
In 1947 about a half dozen antique arms collectors who had been meeting one another informally at Baltimore’s “antique row” on Howard Street gathered together at the home of Benjamin Palmer to discuss the creation of a club. In a rather short time, these enterprising men soon formed a set of by-laws and a constitution for what they named the Maryland Arms Collectors’ Association. Their meetings were held monthly at various members’ homes and their numbers gradually grew especially after they invited various knowledgeable speakers related to collecting and history.
In 1955 they decided to take a risk and hold a show highlighting their collections at the Belvedere Hotel in Baltimore. Despite their initial misgivings, the show turned out to be a huge success and led them to continue having the show on an annual basis. The show continued to grow and led to several changes in venue to the Lord Baltimore Hotel and then to the 5th Regiment Armory. The armory shows from 1964-1989 brought the club great renown and established their reputation for running a superior quality show with strict rules upheld by a well run show committee. By this time, the show had grown considerably and comprised exhibitors from across the United States as well as from several foreign countries.
Eventually the show tried another large venue at the Baltimore Convention Center but found it unsuitable for their needs. Thus, in 1993 the show moved to the Cow Palace located in the Timonium Fairgrounds. Over the years the club expended great effort and expense to transform a building designed to exhibit cows into an attractive and accommodating space to welcome the ever increasing exhibitors and visiting crowds. The show continues at this venue to this present day.
The Maryland Arms Collectors’ Association is another great American success story. Their shows continue to educate and amaze the public with their various displays of weaponry that have built and preserved the United States of America. The complete story told in a fully documented and entertaining account can be found in the book, Keeping Arms: The History of the Maryland Arms Collectors’ Association and the Baltimore Show by author Lawrence J. Bopp. It can be readily found at Amazon.com.