Discovery Museum may sell guns, swords from collection
More than 400 weapons in the Lake County Discovery Museum's collection -- including some that date to the late 1700s -- could be put up for auction next year.
The pistols, rifles, shotguns, muskets, swords and other edged weapons were part of the museum's original collection. They were sold to Lake County in 1965 from the privately owned Lake County Museum of History. Ownership eventually transferred to the Lake County Forest Preserve District, which has run the Discovery Museum since 1976.
Forest district officials are considering selling the weapons because they don't have ties to Lake County or aren't historically significant.
"They're not part of what we would collect," district education director Nan Buckardt said Monday during an education committee discussion of the auction proposal.
Additionally, officials are reducing the size of the museum's collection as the facility prepares to move from its longtime home at the Lakewood Forest Preserve near Wauconda to the forest district headquarters in Libertyville.
"We can only keep so many things," Buckardt said.
The museum would keep 47 other weapons in its collection, pieces that have Lake County ties or are more historically important, Buckardt said.
Some of the weapons being eyed for auction date to the 18th century. Most are from the 19th century.
• An 1872 Whitneyville Armory Rolling Block rifle.
• An 1863 U.S. Springfield rifle with trapdoor conversion.
• An 1871 Blue Jacket revolver.
• Dozens of Civil War-era bayonets.
The museum's entire weapons collection is worth between $170,000 and $250,000, according to a recent appraisal.
"When they go to auction, we don't know what they'll bring," Buckardt said.
The weapons would be sold through several online auctions, not all at once, she said.
Revenue generated by the auctions would help pay for the care of the museum's collection.
Little to no information is available about the histories of the weapons being considered for auction. Robert Vogel, the man who created the original Lake County Museum of History and donated the weapons to the county "just collected things," Buckardt said.
Lake County forest district Commissioner Steve Carlson, a member of the education committee, said he hopes the museum keeps anything people would come to the museum to see "regardless of a connection to Lake County."
The forest board's finance committee will discuss the auction plan Thursday morning. The full forest board could approve the plan when it meets Nov. 8.