After viewing the “M*A*S*H: Binding Up the Wounds” exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum of American History, you would have likely visited the gift shop to see what M*A*S*H items you could take home. Earlier this month, I wrote about the Smithsonian Exhibit Catalog, but there were other items you could purchase including posters, shirts, and coffee mugs. One of the most intriguing item you could purchase, however, was a piece of wood from the actual M*A*S*H set. I have two pieces of this wood in my collection, so let’s take a closer look at the item, its price, and what else it tells us about our favorite TV series.
I have done some research on these pieces and have not been able to find much. I was hoping to find out how many were produced and sold at the exhibit, but nothing. I think it is interesting that they sold pieces of the set at all, but it does make some sense as most of the materials used to create the set of M*A*S*H would have either been destroyed or reused on another set. Since there isn’t much out there, let’s see what the item can tell us. The description on the bottom of the packaging says:
20th Century Fox maintained two complete and separate shooting locations. One was on Stage 9 at the Hollywood film and TV lot; the other was at Malibu, California and known as the “Ranch.” As a result of careful research, the costumes, props and sets included many things from U.S. Army and civilian life during the Korean War and have become, in effect, a collection documenting the period 1950 to 1953.
This wood comes from the structures that made up Rosie’s Bar and the M*A*S*H supply building at Sound Stage 9. It is not part of the sets donated by 20th Century Fox to the Smithsonian.Smithsonian Souvenir Packaging
Looking at the piece of wood, it is fairly unremarkable. It is a cut piece of wood. But it is this description that makes it special. We can learn several things from the package description. The first is that the piece of the set came from Stage 9 at 20th Century Fox and not the Ranch set. We also learn that the piece is from part of Rosie’s Bar and the supply building. This means that the set for the supply building and Rosie’s were the same. They would simply change the furniture on the set to create the bar or supply room as needed. The last thing we learn is that the piece is not part of the sets donated to the Smithsonian. So was this piece sold by 20th Century Fox at the exhibit? I still have many other questions. How long was this piece available at the Smithsonian? Did they sell pieces from anything other than Rosie’s and the supply building?
One of the pieces of wood I purchased came with an original bag, receipt, and insert from the Smithsonian museum shop. The receipt lists the item as “MASH WOOD” and it was only $3.00. $3.00 for a piece of the M*A*S*H set! I would say that is a pretty good deal as they sell for considerably more today. The card from the museum shop advertises an upcoming M*A*S*H book to be published “in Spring 1984 from Abrams.” I believe this refers to Suzy Kalter’s The Complete Book of M*A*S*H, which was originally published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc. in 1984.
Owning a piece of my favorite television series is very exiting, and I think this was a great souvenir option for fans who toured the exhibit. Personally, if I had toured the exhibit, I would have bought the catalog and the piece of the set to take home with me. I would have left it in the packaging as well, just as the owners I purchased these two pieces from did. If you would like to own a piece of the M*A*S*H set, I highly recommend picking one of these up for your collection. They do come up for sale occasionally on eBay.