History Collection

Colorado business and industry related artifacts form the core of the History Colorado History Department's collection. Among the more than 40,000 artifacts are farming and mining equipment, saddles, buttons and badges, office supplies, firearms, flags, computers, telephones, trains, cars, wagons, coins, and the contents from an Erie, Colorado pharmacy. The History collection also includes military related artifacts, including weapons, uniforms, and war souvenirs.

 

Business and Industry Highlights in the History Collection
Colorado's rich mineral resources gave birth to the state and have shaped its history since the mid 1600s, when Spanish explorers came in search of gold and silver. From gold and silver, lead, zinc, and molybdenum to oil and natural gas, significant periods in the state's mining history are reflected in the History collection. Many of the manufacturing tools and products from those resources are also represented in the collection. For example, there was plenty of gold but little money in the Colorado Territory in the 1860s. That is, until the Clark & Gruber mint came to Denver City; History Colorado is fortunate to have in its collection the company's original coin dies, mint presses, and samples of gold coins the company minted.

In addition to the mining industry in Colorado, the History collection also reflects the agriculture, transportation, communication, medical, and manufacturing industries--from the people and equipment involved in these industries to their products and impact on the state.

Colorado businesses are also documented in the History collection. The Morey Mercantile Company, William A. Bongers Grocery Store, Baur's Confectionery, and the George Tritch Hardware Company are but a few names of the many Colorado businesses represented in the History collection.

Finally, the History collection includes commemorative artifacts such as buttons, badges, trophies, flags, and awards.

Military Highlights in the History Collection
At the turn of the 20th century, History Colorado boasted "the most valuable collection of war relics of any state in the Union." The nucleus of this collection was secured by Civil War veteran Cecil A. Deane. Comprised of over 2,000 artifacts, the Deane Collection is representative of the majority of great battles of the Civil War. One of the most prized objects in this collection is Union General Philip H. Sheridan's inkwell, reportedly used on the historic occasion of Robert E. Lee's surrender to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia on April 9, 1865.

Another highlight of History Colorado's military holdings is the 10th Mountain Division collection. Some 1,500 objects document the experiences of the men at Colorado's Camp Hale and their contribution to World War II from 1942-45. The collection contains a variety of clothing and gear developed specifically for the 10th Mountain Division infantry. Many of the items are currently standard issue in the U.S. Army and have been adapted for everyday use in today's recreation industry.

Many pieces from the History collection are currently on view in History Colorado's Community Museums, including Fort VasquezFort Garland, and the Georgetown Loop.

History artifacts are also available to view online through the History Colorado Online Collection, which includes selections from the History collection as well as other artifacts, archives, and photographs.

High-quality photographic prints of artifacts in the History Colorado collection are available for personal or commercial use. Please contact us at photos@state.co.us for more information.