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Collecting Militaria – What you Need to Know

Military Items from service men and women has gained popularity over the last several years thanks largely to th

e hundredth anniversary of WWI, which ended in 1918, and the seventieth anniversary of WWII, which ended in 1945. Living in the Pacific Northwest near an active military base, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, we often see militaria at local estate sales, and whether you’re buying or selling, here are a few things you should know about collecting militaria.

What’s Popular

Collectors’ preferences are varied. Some collect a little of everything and are looking for anything from uniforms and helmets to flags or metals. Others have a specific focus. A popular focus is collecting by country, with American, German and Japanese militaria the most popular.

As a collector, it’s always best to collect what truly interests you.

Know Your History

As with other collectibles, there are dishonest people selling counterfeit items. What is unique to collecting militaria is that if you know your history, or do a little research, it’s easier to spot a fake. Here is an unfortunate example. According to the War Times Journal, some sellers were trying to sell gear from Imperial Marines from WWII; however, during WWII the Japanese Navy didn’t have marines. They were simply trying to get a higher price for standard issue equipment by inflating its story.

Other common counterfeits include metals and awards. Metal has a normal wear patterns, so be sure to handle the piece, and ask questions. Who did it belong to? How did they earn it?

As you become more serious about collecting, we recommend you reference Schiffer Publishing. They offer numerous books and catalogs to help you better understand your collection. Learn more here.

What’s Not of Value

While your collection should reflect your interests and passions, you should know there are plenty of items that hold little value. WWII German Coins and Stamps are a good example. These are selling for roughly 26 cents a set on eBay.

Oversupply of militaria plays a large part in diminished value of certain items. Civil War bullets are a prime example. During the battle of Gettysburg, seven million bullets were fired with millions more fired during the four years of war. US WWII helmets are another example. So many soldiers saved their helmets that these rarely sell for more than $20.

The service and sacrifice of our military men and women will never be unappreciated by us, and we always enjoy helping our clients sell their militaria at estate sales. If you need help you’re your military gear, or that of a loved one, please give us a call. We can help you get started.


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