Camden, SC (WLTX) -- A Camden man has been collecting antique guns and memorabilia for 75 years, and sold it to the city archives in Camden.
At 85-years-old, Ross Beard is far from the 10-year-old that began collecting guns with his godfather, though his enthusiasm for the collection has stayed the same.
"My godfather was Melvin Purvis -- the FBI man, that he and his team -- got John Dillinger," Beard said. "Each gun, believe it or not, has its own story."
"They've provided me so much happiness. It's afforded me the opportunity to learn a wealth of history."
The history may be simple, but getting his hands on all kinds of working and antique guns took time.
Beard said his collection consists of guns, some from as early as the 1400s, from some American wars, and different memorabilia to go with it all.
Beard said his collection is worth well over $1 million dollars, but when it really came down to it, he said it was something he wanted to share with the people of Camden. So when the city came calling and asked him to sell it, he sold it to them, but for a fraction of the price at $700,000.
Ross sold his collection to the Camden City Archives and Museum where Rickie Good is the Curator.
"It's not just firearms," Good said. "That's what everyone likes and that's what everyone wants to see, but there's a lot more to the collection.
All it takes to see what else is in the collection is a trip down to the archives basement, where there are uniforms worn by soldiers in various American wars, including one worn by a soldier during World War I.
Ross said the collection the archives has so far is just the 70 percent of the total collection. The archives will request more of the collection from him as they catalogue what they have, he said.
The collection was sold to the archives last month, said Camden Mayor Tony Scully.
Good said the amount of visitors into the archives since the collection was put on display. Has "about doubled." And that is perfectly okay with Beard.
"If I kick out tomorrow, I know they've got a good home; they're kind of like children to me," Beard said. "Every one of them has a special story, and that's what I love about it."
The Camden Archives and Museum is open to the public.
Learn more here.