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Springfield company insures national treasures

This desk was used to sign the treaty that ended the Revolutionary War and is part of the collection now insured by a Springfield agency. Reminder Publications submitted photo
By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD The desk on which the treaty that ended the Revolutionary War was signed, a bust of Benjamin Franklin sculpted by noted French artist Jean Antoine Houdon and an original copy of the broadsheet detailing the Boston Massacre are just three of the historic artifacts visitors to the State Department Reception Rooms in Washington can see.

And now they are insured by a Springfield agency.

Clark Chase Stewart & Fontana Insurance Agency was recently awarded the policy through a bidding process, Timothy Rooke, vice president of the company, explained.

Rooke said the agency also oversees the policy that insures all of the fine art seen in American embassies around the world. The company has had that policy since 2005.

Rooke explained that American ambassadors ask museums and private collectors to loan the government works of art and artifacts to display. These items are valued from $5,000 to $15 million.

The agency represents many of the fine arts insurance companies in the world, he said, and pursued both policies because of the prestige the accounts bring to the company.

He said the bidding process was "pretty competitive" and he was the executive to supervise the company's application for the account.

Rooke explained the State Department has eight reception rooms it uses for various meetings and events. Each are filled with artwork and artifacts that are either owned by the government or on loan from private collections.

He added that 80,000 people attend functions in the rooms each year.

The artifacts and the artwork in the State Department Reception Rooms are valued as a $90 million collection, he said.

Besides the desk on which the treaty to end the Revolutionary War was signed, Rooke said there is a silver teapot made by Paul Revere, one of George Washington's dinner plates.

When the policy was awarded, Rooke took a trip to Washington to see the rooms for himself and meet with the curating staff. He said he was very impressed.

Although used by the Vice President, Secretary of State, and members of the president's cabinet, the rooms are open to the public for tours. For more details, log onto or call 202-647-3241.