Asbestos content may doom Gettysburg battlefield map

The Soldiers National Monument at the center of Gettysburg National Cemetery. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
The Soldiers National Monument at the center of Gettysburg National Cemetery. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
The Soldiers National Monument at the center of Gettysburg National Cemetery. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

GETTYSBURG, Pa. (AP) – Officials say they plan to try to auction off a large electric battlefield map at Gettysburg that for decades helped visitors understand the crucial Civil War battle, but they may be forced to destroy it.

The National Park Service pulled the plug on the 1960s-era device at Gettysburg National Military Park in 2008 after opening a new museum and visitor center. The map, which had been used for 70 years, has been in storage ever since.

Park officials last month asked the federal government to let it auction the map to the highest bidder, The Philadelphia Inquirer said. But they must first get a waiver from the General Services Administration because the map contains asbestos—and without such a waiver, officials say, the map will be destroyed.

Some fans who thought the map was already history were surprised to hear that it might be resurrected.

“I thought it was dead and buried,” said John Dekeles, of Post Falls, Idaho, who filmed one of the last map shows.

He and others launched efforts to save the device, drawing up plans to move it to a nearby site and petitioning the Smithsonian, West Point and the Naval Academy to adopt it. Despite their efforts, the map sits in four pieces in an airtight shipping container at an undisclosed location.

The map was created by Joseph Rosensteel, who grew up on the battlefield and whose family founded the park’s original museum. His grandfather collected artifacts as a teenager days after the battle while helping to bury bodies, and the thousands of items were the basis for the museum opened in the family farmhouse in 1921.

His grandson spent five years researching troop movements over the 6,000 acres and laying out his map with topographic features such as roads, waterways and orchards before the first electric map show opened in 1938. The current map was constructed in 1963 out of plaster and concrete and the shows were performed in an auditorium built to house it for the battle’s 100th anniversary commemoration.

Park officials were divided over whether there should be a new place for the map in the new museum a mile away.

“We finally came to the conclusion that it was outdated as an interpretive device,” park spokeswoman Katie Lawhon said.

Fans, however, say the new Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center doesn’t provide visitors with the same comprehensive overview that the old-fashioned map did, despite its galleries, interactive exhibits, the restored Cyclorama painting and a triple-screen movie narrated by actor Morgan Freeman.

“It concisely interprets and orients people; it’s always been good at that,” said Curt Musselman, president of the Historic Gettysburg-Adams County group, who now makes maps for the park service and credits with the map in part for his decision to become a cartographer. “And for all the millions, the museum does not have such a concise or effective orientation.”

Park officials, however, want the map auctioned off quickly so they can concentrate on preparing for events for the battle’s 150th anniversary next year, Lawhon said.

“We want to move forward and focus on 2013,” she said.

Dekeles, who saw the map on trips to the battlefield when he and his family made annual trips to a train show in nearby York, bought the domain name www.savetheelectricmap.com when he found the map was to be retired and filmed the show with night vision equipment.

“I was shocked,” Dekeles said. “I couldn’t believe it would be gone. I learned so much from it.”

He said he’d like to see the map restored as it was in a new location modeled on the old one.

“Like a phoenix rising from the ashes and presented in a way that shows the respect it deserves,” he said. “The ideal thing would be to put it back as close as it was to protect the dignity and history, like you are walking into 1963.”

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Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.philly.com

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-05-27-12 1625GMT


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


The Soldiers National Monument at the center of Gettysburg National Cemetery. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
The Soldiers National Monument at the center of Gettysburg National Cemetery. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

RSL offers antique toys, train stations, banks, Americana July 1

Marklin three-tiered castle, circa 1895, parade ground moves when connected to steam engine. Est. $14,000-$20,000. RSL Auction Co.
Marklin three-tiered castle, circa 1895, parade ground moves when connected to steam engine. Est. $14,000-$20,000. RSL Auction Co.

Marklin three-tiered castle, circa 1895, parade ground moves when connected to steam engine. Est. $14,000-$20,000. RSL Auction Co.

TIMONIUM, Md. – Fine European antique toys and train stations, plus a fabulous array of still and mechanical banks are at the heart of RSL’s 621-lot auction to be held July 1, 2012 at Richard Opfer’s gallery in Timonium (suburban Baltimore), Maryland. Internet live bidding will be provided by LiveAuctioneers.com.

Titled “Toys, Train Stations, Banks & Americana,” the auction’s wonderfully varied selections include the John Jirofsky architectural still bank collection, the late Dr. James Laster’s collection of train stations, and other carefully chosen additional consignments.

A longtime collector, Jirofsky is a member of both the MBCA and SBCCA, a reflection of his penchant for both mechanical and still banks. “We sold John’s mechanical banks in June of last year; now we have his still banks, which were his true collecting passion,” said RSL partner Ray Haradin. “There’s great diversity in his collection, especially among the painted buildings. It contains the only known example of the ‘1905 Bank.’” Having an almost mosque-like appearance with its tall spires, the 1905 Bank could cash out at $12,000-$18,000.

Another highlight is a red Palace Bank with exceptionally fine detailing and a smooth, lustrous patina. It is expected to make $10,000-$15,000.

From a different consignor comes a rare and exceptional 1890s polychrome-painted Ives Santa bank, complete with a removable wire Christmas tree accessory. The bank’s gilt-edged trail of provenance includes the distinguished Leon Perelman and Donal Markey collections. The presale estimate is $8,000-$12,000.

RSL is honored to have been chosen to handle the European train station collection of the late Dr. James Laster, whose specialty was German 1 gauge. Fifteen train stations from the Laster collection will be lined up to meet their new owners on auction day, including a large, circa-1905 Marklin Café station (1 Gauge) ex Ward Kimball collection. It could bring $18,000-$25,000, Haradin said.

A circa-1910 Bing station with patio, in excellent condition, is entered with hopes of realizing $4,000-$6,000. There will also be a host of other, smaller Bing, Marklin and J. Krauss stations from the early 1900s.

The magical Marklin name will also be represented by a circa-1895 three-tiered castle. “It’s a pristine example from the Lutz /Marklin era and should sell for $14,000-$20,000,” Haradin said. Other Marklin prizes include a horse-drawn stagecoach with driver, est. $6,500-$9,500; and a large Marklin Jolanda riverboat, est. $12,000-$18,000.

A first-rate assortment of American tin toys is highlighted by a circa-1885 Ives “Giant” locomotive. Measuring an impressive 17½ inches long, the Giant was the largest locomotive of the American clockwork-toy era. One of only four known, the entry in RSL’s sale is estimated at $12,000-$18,000.

Two other clockwork treasures to be sold are a circa-1875 Ives Stump Speaker in pristine condition, est. $5,000-$7,000; and one of only about 6 extant examples of an Ives Nursemaid, also known as “Old Aunt Chloe.” The toy is meant to depict a black nanny caring for a white infant. Estimate: $7,000-$9,000.

Cast-iron American toys exhibiting particularly fine condition include a “super-mint” circa-1905 Uncle Sam Chariot, made by Kenton Hardware and retaining an unbelievable 99.5% of its original paint. The 12-inch-long patriotic toy, whose chariot replicates an American eagle, is expected to achieve $15,000-$25,000 at auction. Right alongside it is one of the rarest of all Hubley toys, a Gondola Amusement Park Ride, with intricately cast ironwork on its wheels. The 19-inch-long toy, whose condition is rated “excellent,” is estimated at $30,000-$40,000.

A featured section of the sale is devoted to antique European character and automotive toys by such makers as Lehmann, Nifty, Schuco and the coveted French brand Fernand Martin, whose “Orange Vendor” and “Gendarme,” est. $3,000-$4,000, are rarely seen. European automotive toys will follow their category’s leader, a deluxe model Fisher Taxi with rare leather canopy and two female passengers, est. $3,500-$5,500.

A grouping of 18 character toys and other items with a black theme will be led by a circa-1895 papier-mache and cardboard Dandy Ball Toss. German made and displaying bright, appealing colors, the toy is designed so the “dandy” nods his head when a ball is successfully tossed into an opening in his midsection. Est. $5,000-$7,000.

It wouldn’t be an RSL auction without high-end cast-iron mechanical banks. The July 1 sale includes around 175 mechanicals, many in near-mint condition. Among the top lots is a circa-1886 J. & E. Stevens Bread Winners bank designed by Charles Bailey. With pristine paint, it has the potential to realize $26,000-$32,000.

Other coveted classics include a superior circa-1905 J. & E. Stevens Calamity bank, est. $35,000-$55,000; and a near-mint circa-1888 Kyser & Rex Butting Buffalo, $20,000-$30,000.

The perfect “go with” for a mechanical bank is an illustrated trade card. RSL’s sale will include approximately 10 trade cards advertising mechanical banks, including a relatively rare “Bad Accident.” Some of the cards are ex Bob Brady collection.

All forms of bidding will be available in RSL’s Sunday, July 1 auction, including Internet live bidding through www.LiveAuctioneers.com. The sale will begin at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time, with a preview from Tuesday, May 26 commencing at 12 noon through Sunday morning prior to the auction. A complimentary cocktail party preview will be held at the gallery on Thursday, May 28 from 5:30-8:30 p.m.

For additional information, call Ray Haradin at 412-343-8733, Leon Weiss at 917-991-7352, or Steven Weiss at 212-729-0011. E-mail raytoys@aol.com or geminitoys@earthlink.net. Visit RSL Auction Co. online at www.rslauctions.com.

View the fully illustrated catalog and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.

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View the fully illustrated catalog and register to bid absentee or live via the Internet as the sale is taking place by logging on to www.LiveAuctioneers.com.


ADDITIONAL LOT OF NOTE


Marklin three-tiered castle, circa 1895, parade ground moves when connected to steam engine. Est. $14,000-$20,000. RSL Auction Co.

Marklin three-tiered castle, circa 1895, parade ground moves when connected to steam engine. Est. $14,000-$20,000. RSL Auction Co.