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G.A.R. Mortar Ballot Box
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Ballot boxes were used in G.A.R. posts to cast yes or no votes in secret using white and black marbles. This one is in the shape of a mortar. The base is roughly 12 by 6 inches and the mortar is 8 inches high. An open tray below the muzzle held black and white marbles that would be cast by members as yes or no votes in a secret ballot. A marble would be placed in the muzzle of the mortar and would roll to the breech and drop through a hole into a drawer that could then be removed and the votes counted.
The box has an old brown finish with painted yellow scrolls. The sides of the base and border of the stepped sides ornamented with small studs and painted with a silver band imitating metal strapping. The mortar itself was painted gold. The yellow is good on the side panels, rubbed on the drawer front on the back of the box and the front of the open tray. The mortar barrel shows rubbing on the top and left. The right side and muzzle are stronger. There is some corrosion to the studs on the bottom front of the base and to the lower left corner (as viewed from the front.)
Untouched and fresh out of a Willliamsport, Pa., estate. A fragement of a Williamsport maker or G.A.R. post label is glued on the floor of the drawer. I show a page from a Charles Naylor catalog of G.A.R. goods showing a similar ballot box modeled on the "Swamp Angel." This is probably modeled on the "Dictator," a heavy mortar used during the Petersburg campaign.
The colors are muted and my lighting may make them appear brighter. The second photo is probably closer to how it looks in person.