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Representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Art Crime Team - Philadelphia Division, the United States Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Upper Merion Township Police Department, and the Museum of the American Revolution stand with the recovered artifacts.
Our collections are used as tools to engage our audiences in an appreciation of history and to reinvigorate their civic commitment – it’s the foundation of all of our missions. We are incredibly grateful to the FBI and law enforcement for their tireless work to bring these items home.
Dr. R. Scott Stephenson, Museum President & CEO

On Friday, Dec. 17, stolen artifacts were returned to their rightful owners — six museums from the Philadelphia region— in a repatriation ceremony at the Museum held by the Philadelphia Division of the FBI Art Crime Team.

The museums that received repatriated items included the American Swedish Historical Museum, Hershey Story Museum, Landis Valley Museum, Mercer Museum, Museum of the American Revolution, and York County History Center. The 15 total items that were repatriated were primarily 18th- and 19th-century firearms and a Native American concho belt. 

Through the repatriation, the Museum received a French gendarmerie flintlock pistol and a pair of Ward & Steele Queen Anne flintlock pistols, which were stolen in 1970, and a French Model 1777 Charleville pistol, which was stolen in 1972. The items were stolen from the Valley Forge Historical Society, which transferred its collection to the Museum in 2003.

The recovered artifacts were part of a 50-year-old cold case that was cracked by the FBI in 2019 and included the return of a rare firearm made by gunsmith Christian Oerter, which was stolen in 1971 when it was on display at Valley Forge National Historical Park. The rifle, which is on loan from the Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution and its Color Guard, is on display in the Museum’s special exhibition Liberty: Don Troiani’s Paintings of the Revolutionary War, open through Sept. 5, 2022.

In Case You Missed It

Philadelphia Inquirer (Dec. 17, 2021)
"Reunited with artifacts stolen almost 50 years ago, Pa. museum leaders say they’re better prepared against thieves"
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WHYY (Dec. 17, 2021)
"Stolen 50 years ago, FBI returns antique guns to their rightful museums"
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ABC News (via Associated Press) (Dec. 17, 2021)
"FBI: Artifacts stolen from museums in 1960s, 1970s returned"
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6ABC (Dec. 17, 2021)
"Stolen artifacts recovered and returned to Philadelphia-area museums"
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