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A True Historical New Orleans Experience

by Erin Kruml (12/19/07).

Finding a person who is truly content with their job is not easy, but walk down to the Sword and Pen at 528 Royal Street and you will meet the happiest antique dealer in New Orleans, Larry Marsh. As manager of Sword and Pen, a French Quarter antique store, Larry has the opportunity to talk about his first love, history. Walking into the shop is walking into a museum, filled to the brim with historical collectibles. Larry fits right in, from behind the counter he will educate you on any item in the store with a wide smile. He also has knowledge of New Orleans and if you have a few minutes, or in my case an hour, he will tell stories of Old New Orleans and its transformation throughout the last 150 years. The man could literally go on for hours and he will, if you listen attentively. He knows everybody on the block and can direct you anywhere, an especially great guide for the history buff. Walking around the store itself is an amazing experience, but it is Larry’s friendliness and profuse knowledge that make Sword and Pen the shop to stop at on Royal Street.

From ancient artifacts to confederate bonds, the Sword and Pen began as the Toy Soldier Shop, selling toy soldiers and limited militaria. The previous owner kept the store open for 40 years, but starting over after Hurricane Katrina was too much of a grueling task for the 80-year-old man. He sold his shop to owners of a tiny militaria store at 212 Chartes who took his collection and combined it with their own inventory. With this merger no one is deprived of the unique toy soldiers and the array of battle scenes that fill the display windows constructed by the previous owner. The newer name of Sword and Pen originates from the name of an old newspaper hanging over the door. However, the name neatly describes the collection of militaria as well as the plethora of paper goods. The collection has only expanded since the buy out 13 months ago to include confederate money, antique guns, swords, old newspapers, antique medical instruments, civil war relics, and medieval helmets, to name a few. The hodgepodge of items allows Larry a great opportunity to talk about a variety of subjects and for the customer enamored with any time period to be entertained. Some of the most interesting items include a civil war drum from the confederate army and an ink well set from Hitler’s personal office. The latter, being the most expensive item in the store marked at $25,000, attracts customers to investigate each case, onto other exciting historical memorabilia.

The Sword and Pen have a constant flux of new inventory, so even residents can frequent the shop without being bored. Besides, Larry would never allow anyone to be bored in his shop. He takes a personal interest in each customer, even tourists who were obviously lured in by the intricate toy soldier display in the front window. Larry takes the time to make everyone feel comfortable. Truly a good man, Larry spent his youth trying out law school and looking for an opportunity to use his History degree. Appealing to his esoteric side, Larry chose the antique business for a stress free environment and a chance to let his historical mind run wild. Ending up in the historic French Quarter has only added to his life as a history buff. For not only are you engulfed in history, Larry serves as a conduit to the past that so many come to New Orleans to experience. So if you are in New Orleans and have the hankering for some history, stop by the Sword and Pen at 528 Royal and allow Larry to expound on the city, for it is his love of history that makes the Sword and Pen experience complete.

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