Col. Edward Howland Robinson Green acquired the S.S. United States in 1917. As the son of notorious miser Hetty Green—dubbed "the witch of Wall Street," and the richest woman in the world at the time—Col. Green was able to indulge his wish for “the largest, finest and costliest privately owned yacht in the world,” as Rudder magazine described it.
When Colonel Green acquired the steamer, he had it lengthened by 61 feet to stretch 256 feet—longer than J.P. Morgan’s Corsair. Twice as big and twice as long as the presidential vessel of the day, it featured a 28-by-32 main cabin with an open fieldstone fireplace. The original 83 compartments were transformed into nine luxurious staterooms, including a Georgian-styled master suite for Green.
Unfortunately, his time to enjoy the yacht was short—less than two years after delivery, it sank at its mooring in 16 feet of water. The shallow water made it possible for all of the yacht’s valuables to be recovered, including the firearms.
Included in the yacht’s arsenal were four Colt semi-automatic pistols commissioned from Colt by Col. Green. Each pistol was factory engraved and gold-plated with finely checkered grips.
There were also three Winchester .22 pump-action rifles found in the colonel’s collection. Many called these “gallery guns” after the Coney Island shooting galleries became famous. The model 1890 was one of the more popular .22 rifles of the day, and it is engraved with “Yacht United States” on the side.
These firearms were donated to the NRA National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Va., by Eldon “EJ” Owens, a collector of renown who served as president of the prestigious American Society of Arms Collectors.