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Attending Shows . . . to Buy
Editor’s note: The following “greeting” appeared in our free, e-newsletter, Militar-E-News. To subscribe, log onto www.MilitaryTrader.com.
Fall is here, and with it comes the autumn auction and show season. I am on the road and will be at the Battlefield Show in St. Paul and the MAX Show in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. Two weekends ago, I was in Spooner, Wisconsin, for the Spooner Military Vehicle Preservation Group’s annual party. Always a blast, this year hosts Kevin and Thea Kronlund treated everyone to amphibious rides in their WWII DUKW, LVT, GPA and M29C “Weasel."
This year, though, is the first time I have been excited about attending shows from the collecting angle. During the past six or seven years, I was satisfied with buying online, either from dealers or auctions. However, the luster has worn off a bit, for me. I think dealers are realizing that all of the buyers are found online. As eBay changes and imparts far more listing fees and strips sellers of any ability to leave accurate feedback, I have been seeing far more good stuff turning up at the shows.
So, it became clear to me – if I was going to add to my WWI photo collection, AEF Tank Corps display or mountains of WWII Mountain Division stuff, I had to go to where the relics were appearing. Low and behold, it has been at the shows.
At the Spring Battlefield Show, I was able to buy about $500 worth of quality WWI doughboy photos, in addition to having had the chance (but missed it!) at a killer Tank Corps painted helmet. At last year’s SOS, I added a very fine 302nd Heavy Tank Bn. panoramic photo to my collection and a Second Pattern Ski Cap. That is better than I have been doing on eBay lately! The quality is just not showing up like it used to.
The same is true on the vehicle front. I had been in the market for a Weasel for several years, but now that I am living “down south,” I have lost my weasel-lust. However, I have been seeing several for sale at shows and have not been seeing them online like I did three years ago.
So the moral of this tale? If you want the good stuff, I strongly recommend hitting the shows. You might just be surprised what you find! Drop me a note with a picture of your latetest “score.” Maybe we can put together a little spread in Military Trader and/or Military Vehicles.
Keep finding the good stuff,
Editor, Military Trader and Military Vehicles Magazine
STOLEN GRAVE MARKERS
Editor’s note: The following “greeting” appeared in our free, e-newsletter, Militar-E-News. To subscribe, log onto www.MilitaryTrader.com.
Ever since I was a boy in southeastern Minnesota, I have spent a fair amount of time in cemeteries. Growing up in the same community in which my ancestors had settled in 1849, I attended a lot of family funerals. I also spent a lot of time just walking around looking at the names and dates. Over the past 20 years, I developed my photographic skills by taking photographs of tombstones and markers (they are great models—they don’t need breaks, talk much or blink when you take a picture).
Most of my photographs are of soldiers’ tombstones. At times, my photography has overlapped my research. I photographed stones belonging to soldiers who participated in particular events or served in specific units that I am studying.
During the past five years, however, I have noticed a very disturbing trend. The bronze markers—American Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War, GAR, Spanish American War, or the WWII “ruptured ducks”—are disappearing. Nothing smacks of lower form of desecration than stealing grave markers. At least, that is what I thought before I saw more than one military dealer at last year’s Show of Shows with these markers on their tables.
Stolen markers, though, are not limited to greedy dealers looking for an easy buck. In fact, most markers, because they made of cast iron or bronze, end up in the hands metal recyclers.
Besides the karmic consequences of stealing from the dead, I wondered just what laws exist to stop a person from stealing and/or selling markers. So, I did a bit of digging.
It seems I am not the only one to recognize this pattern of grave robbing. During 2007, police made arrests of people who stole, received or sold veterans’ grave markers in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Indiana, New York, Tennessee and Arkansas. Charges have included institutional vandalism, conspiracy, theft, receiving stolen property, desecration or sale of venerated objects and criminal mischief.
These charges didn’t seem to fit the crime, though. It really takes a special form of low-life to steal a grave marker, and even a bigger one to try to sell it. So I dug a little further and asked a few more questions. David R. Stebbins, a senior investigator for the New York State Police in Auburn gave an answer I liked, “The theft of a gun, a religious artifact or a public record, regardless of value, is considered a felony.” That’s more like it. Steal or sell a grave marker and you are going to jail!
So, if you have any markers in your possession, turn them into your local VFW, cemetery, Veterans Affairs or police department. There is no guarantee of amnesty, but hey, you are dealing with dead—the reward for doing the right thing may not come in this life.
I don’t get ticked too often, but if I see markers on sales table or swap space, I am contacting the police. Stealing from the dead is too deplorable to ignore. I hope that each person who reads this will join me in protecting the honor of our soldiers who have passed.
Editor, Military Trader
I read with great interest your Editor’s Note in the latest Militar-E-News concerning the theft and sale of military grave markers. It was well- written and your point was well-made.
On the whole, I am in complete agreement with you. Although I am sure there are reasonable exceptions, it is probably best for responsible dealers and collectors to stay away from these memorials altogether.
One part of your note did trouble me. It appeared that the Show of Shows was singled out, I’m sure unintentionally, as the only named event where these offenses take place. I am sure you will agree that these markers are often offered for sale at all militaria and gun shows, as well as on the web and in catalogs. In my opinion, it was misleading to have the SOS as the only show connected with the questionable sale of these markers.
As most of your readers are aware, the OVMS does not generally burden the members, dealers and guests with any more rules than is absolutely necessary for smooth show management and public safety. We assume, and are almost always correct in our assumption, that the folks attending the SOS and our regular OVMS shows are mature, responsible adults that do not need heavy-handed regulations. A gentle reminder will usually suffice to correct any problem. With this in mind, I will ask our dealers, in our next OVMS newsletter, to voluntarily refrain from bringing these memorials to society sponsored events. I hope other show promoters will follow the lead of the OVMS in this matter.
It is the responsibility of the entire collecting community, as good citizens, to honor the memory of our glorious fallen from past and current wars. It cannot be overstated that their sacrifice gave us the freedoms and the hobby we all enjoy today.
I am sorry Bill! In my fervor to caste dispersions on the unscrupulous who steal and sell the markers, it never occurred to me that some of that might fall on the SOS. Thank you for understanding that my goal was not to tarnish the reputation of the SOS. It was simply the most recent venue where I have seen stolen markers for sale. I have also seen them in dealers’ spaces at military vehicle shows, gun shows, and antique shows.
Dear Military Trader,
Last week my son-in-law showed me the article that you ran in your magazine recently about Spanish-American uniforms (“More Than Just Pajamas: Spanish Colonial Uniforms” in the July 2008 issue). My grandfather was an army officer who was deployed to Cuba from 1898 to 1899. He brought home a leather suitcase with three bed ticking suits and a straw hat. This was in our attic for many years until we moved last month. We thought these were, indeed, “just pajamas,” and threw them out with all of the old newspapers and Life magazines. I sure wish I had seen this article sooner, but am at least glad to know now what these things were.
The day after I received and read the March 2008 issue of Trader, I uncovered this “overhead’” from the Great Lakes Naval Training Station circa 1941-1944. The information on the picture is just a list of Commanding Officers I used to establish the time period of this picture. The postcard was with items from an uncle who finished his first hitch in the Navy in December 1941. He served in the reserve after the war.
This style of picture must have had a name, but your choice, John, of calling them “overheads” is good for me!
I saw the letter that a reader sent in on page 8 of the March issue of Military Trader. I have some familiarity with these pictures, especially the ones photographed by Mole and Thomas photographers from Chicago.
Arthur Mole and John Thomas traveled around the country during and after WWI visiting military camps and photographing “living emblems.” Their specialty was photographing people from the one place where the lines of perspective would resolve into an intelligible image. They would typically spend about a week using thousands of feet of lace edging to lay out the pattern on the ground. On the day of the picture, the men would be marched out on the field and placed in their positions, an event that could take two or three hours to complete. When all was ready, they took the picture from a tower erected for that specific purpose. Depending on the size of the emblem, the tower could be anywhere from 40 to 80 feet tall. A contemporary account by one of the participants in the emblem said that prints of the emblem were available for sale for a dollar the next day in the camp’s post exchange. Many men purchased prints and sent them home to their families.
Mole and Thomas’ photos were an effort to bolster national identity when the United States entered WW I. It’s reported that Mole and Thomas did not prosper from the sale of the prints and that they donated the entire income to the families of returning soldiers and to the country’s efforts to help them return to civilian life. Mole and Thomas were not the only photographers to create large scale group pictures. Other photographers appeared on the scene a bit later and photographed many other large emblems and scenes using large groups of people.
Each print was typically marked with the title, location, number of participants, and the commanding officer’s name. Each print also contained the photographer’s information: Mole and Thomas, 915 Medinah Bldg, Chicago, Ill. and the date of the print.
I enjoyed your “trend report” in the free e-newsletter, Militar-E-News (log on to www.militarytrader.com to register). I was at the Show of Shows as well and noticed another trend: the demand for Italian militaria, from both the Royalist period and the Fascist period. It was selling like hot cakes.
Since this is my field, I am inundated with daily requests for Italian WWI and WWII militaria that I cannot possibly fill or find!! I’ve been in this field for the last 45 years and am stunned by the interest these days.
Then again, the great thing about this field are few fakes and repros. Unlike the German militaria, it’s truly rare. Being able to order German militaria is like ordering something from Sears and Roebuck — not my idea of fun. The German militaria and, as you said, the Japanese (though you spoke only of the helmets) are expensive, but far from “rare” — every show table is full of them.
I have had requests and offers of incredible amounts of money — far more than for some German militaria. For an Italian paratrooper helmet — sorry don’t have one available! And how about a Fascist general’s dagger, a Fascist party visor cap, fascist tunics, items of the Axis alliance, and scores of arm shields, daggers, swords, medals, and so on? Forget it, that stuff is truly rare! The thrill of the “hunt,” it makes collecting so worthwhile. Ciao!
Here is a photo of an Iraqi “Thunder” paratrooper breast badge worn on the camo suit 1970s-1980s. The size is 3” high to the top of the highest wing tip, 2-1/8” wide and weighs 1.05 oz. It also has a black enamel background. You can see that it is virtually identical to the Egyptian Commando badge.
LEATHER DRESSINGS DEVALUE RELICS
I wish to applaud D.L. Adams for the “Caring for Leather” article in the April 2008 issue of MT. As a collector, I was once an ardent believer in treating leather with Pecard and other leather dressing. As someone who has been a full-time dealer in militaria for the last 10 years, however, I have seen the error of my ways!
Accoutrements and helmets that were owned and cared for by collectors who simply made sure that they were stored and displayed properly, remain in nice condition and tend to be a valuable investment. Items that were owned by collectors who were convinced that they could reverse the aging process by applying various leather ‘treatments,’ tend to be artificially dark, dirty, sticky and in overall less-desirable condition. More often than not, other items in a collection will also exhibit damage suffered just from proximity to ‘treated’ leather.
Whenever I am buying a collection, the first thing I look for are the tell-tale signs of amateur conservation treatments, especially on leather. These collections tend to be far less valuable than comparable collections that were not subjected to these treatments, and I make my buying decisions accordingly.
Whoever is marketing eather dressings to the collecting community should be held liable for their role in causing significant damage to once-vaulable artifacts. I strongly encourage all collectors who are using these products to stop immediately. You have been misled, and your collections have paid the price.
Advance Guard Militaria
Thank you, Jeff. You have certainly put a “dollar and sense” twist to the discussion.
Like you, I once slathered leather dressings liberally on my collection. However, after completing my training to become a museum professional, I saw the error of my ways. What I perceived as “preserving leather” was actually destroying it! Sure, it looked pretty, felt “moist” and gave me a sense of well-being, but none of that counteracted the science of applying dressings to historic leather. To hear from a dealer, though, that he would pay less for an item that had been treated with a leather dressing than he would for an item that had not, is a pretty good reason for folks to stop destroying their collections!
I realize many are passionate about what they perceive the “conservation value” of treating leather with “miracle dressings.” Therefore, I thought it might be useful for them to see what the National Park Service, Library of Congress and conservation professionals in the United Kingdom have to say on the topic:
“Unfortunately, the application of dressings can produce unexpected and serious problems for conserving the leather. While dressings may improve overall appearance, current research indicates that these oils and lubricants are not effective in preserving leather.”
From: “The Degradation and Conservation of Leather” by Vicki Dirksen, Journal of Conservation and Museum Studies, No. 3, November 1997
Online at: http://palimpsest.stanford.edu/jcms/issue3/dirksen.html#ref16
“Leather dressings were at one time thought to be useful in extending the life of leather bindings. Experience has shown, however, that its benefit is primarily cosmetic and that the use of leather dressing by someone without professional expertise, does more harm than good. Studies have shown that leather dressings can cause the leather to dry out over time. Dressed leather may become stiff, and will be accompanied by darkening of the surface or staining. If too much dressing is applied, or if it is applied too frequently, the surface of the leather may become sticky and attract dust.”
From: “Leather Dressing,” published by the Library of Congress
Online at: http://www.loc.gov/preserv/care/leather.html
“It is evident that the dressing of leather is a popular and well established procedure, yet there is a fair amount of experimental and practical evidence that suggests it has little or no effect on leather’s rate of deterioration. The regular dressing of leather is hard to justify in terms of conservation principles since it has little or no preservative effect when applied in a customary uncalculated manner and there are so many potentially dangerous side effects.”
From: “Leather Dressing: To Dress or Not to Dress” published in Conserv O Gram, no. 9/1, July 1993, by the National Park Service.
Online at: http://www.nps.gov/history/museum/publications/conserveogram/09-01.pdf
And finally, the National Park Service’s directive to all of its museums says it short and sweet:
“Avoid the use of leather dressings on museum objects.”
From: “National Park Service Museum Handbook (Part I), Appendix S: Curatorial Care of Objects Made From Leather and Skin Products.”
Online at: http://www.nps.gov/history/museum/publications/MHI/Appendix%20S.pdf
WHERE CAN I GET THOSE MOVIES?
The April isssue was a great edition of MT— great stories! A question, though. Does author Peter Suciu know where I can buy or rent some of the “Lesser-Known WWII Movies” about which he wrote his reviews?
I have never heard about some of them and want to see them! Can I get them on tape or DVD? If so, where? Who ever has them should advertise them in your magazine!
Peter Suciu responds” “Thank you for writing. I actually can recommend Belle & Blade (online at www.warshows.com/StoreFront.bok). They have a great selection of movies. Some of these will be official imports and semi-official imports. If you ever get to the large Show of Shows in Louisville the crew from B&B set up and every year I’ve come home with some remarkable movies. This year I picked up The Hot Snow, a Soviet film set on the Russian front, and Yamato, a Japanese film about the battleship. Both were very well done and could easily have made the list (maybe next year!).”
“VH” INSIGNIA IDENTIFIED
I now have a definitive answer to Whatizit #14-11-2, thanks to my good friend (and king of the German helmet collectors) Al Barrows. Al found an advertisement in a German wartime magazine that displays the “HV” (actually VH) insignia as belonging to the electronics company “Voight und Haeffner AG.” of Frankfurt am Main.
It’s amazing what can still be discovered in print 60 years after the fact! I hope this will be of interest to all types of collectors out there
AUSTRIAN ANSCHLUSS MEDAL
Martin Spohn’s article in the September 2007 issue on the Austrian Anschluss Medal was very fine. However, he did not mention that the medal also exists in a bronze version (and is quite rare). LTC John R. Angolia’s mentions the bronze version on page 57 of his book, For Führer and Fatherland-—Military Awards of the Third Reich, He suggests that it was probably a transition piece between the first design in bronze (which was not adopted) and the final silver medal.
I was especially interested in the photo of the Cactus Division in the December issue. Does this genre of aerial photo have a name? It would also be interesting to catalog what the readers have collected or seen.
I nearly owned a copy of the Marine Corps Eagle, Globe and Anchor. I seem to remember the Statue of Liberty, and I have a copy of a silhouette of President Woodrow Wilson by the “21,000 officers and men Camp Sherman, Chillicothe, Ohio”.
I have owned several of these over the years (including a 2nd Division, 12th Division and Motor Transport Corps). However, I don’t know what they are called! I have just referred to them as “overhead” photos. Perhaps our readers can enlighten both of us!—John A-G
VIETNAM FIELD RADIOS
I just wanted to let you know I really enjoyed the article “Vietnam-era Field Radios” in the February 2008 issue. I was in the Marine Corps from 1958 to 1962 and carried a AN/PRC 9 as a radio operator with a forward observer team in the 11th Marine Regiment (Artillery). If my memory serves me right there were three radios, PRC 8, 9 & 10 and the only difference were the frequency ranges. In the Marines, the Infantry used the 10, artillery the 9 and armor the 8.
A few years ago at the Iola Military show, I picked up a AN/PRC 9 for my collection. The only thing I am missing is the three foot tape antenna AT/272 and a Technical Manual. Again thanks to you and David Doyle for the article.
St. Cloud, Minnesota
DOESN’T SEE RISE IN PURPLE HEARTS
I liked your predictions in the last Militar-E-News (also reprinted in “Homefront News” in the February 2008 issue) but am not so sure about engraved Purple Hearts taking off in 2008. I had the misfortune of starting to collect named ones with history about three years before the Stolen Valor Act. I was paying $1,500-$2,000 and up for beautiful sets on eBay. Now, eBay cut them out completely and I have no real resource to sell them through. It’s really sad because the memory of the soldiers who died and whose families received these medals will just fade away. All of which proves the old saying: For every problem government solves, it creates three in its place!
Nat: With absolutely no disrepect intended, here is another old saying, “Where there is a will, there is a way.” True, you can’t sell Purple Hearts on eBay, but have you ever considered an ad in Military Trader? Each month, 6,500+ pairs of militaria-interested eyes peruse the Trader. That is probably more “hits” then you ever got on a single eBay sale of a Purple Heart grouping.
HITLER YOUTH HELMETS
I read, with interest, the February 2008 letter from Douglas Wilson regarding Hitler Youth helmets. I recently picked up a “HJ” helmet in a trade that was brought home by a 509th Airborne vet who was stationed in Germany at the end of the war and the occupation. It is an M40 combat weight steel helmet, NS62 (small size). It is painted black with a complete liner. It has the exact illustrated HJ shield style decal on the left side. The decal shows wear and is about 70percent . It was quite a coincidence that right after I obtained this helmet, there was an enlightening article in your magazine on an obscure and sometimes forgotten area of collecting.
A recent article concerning a customer’s question regarding a small size WWII German helmet may have missed the mark. The staffer who answered the question made reference to Hitler Youth helmets that had surfaced in the 1980s. In fact, the Germans had tin child’s play helmets, which had a cheap cloth liner and actual military helmet decals were used. I have personally owned two such helmets with national colors and army decals. I have also owned a M1916 style helmet. All three were child’s play helmets.
CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF MY MT
While serving as a military advisor in Afghanistan in 2004-05, I came across a copy of Military Trader while in the rear to obtain supplies. Since our mail was delivered only once a month and because there was very little to read down range, I read and re-read your magazine. Being a long time military historian and collector I was facinated with your magazine.
Upon returning home I subscribed and enjoy receiving every issue of MT. I read it from cover to cover and have contacted a lot of the advertisers. Keep up the good work.
Smith Station, Alabama
P.S. Retired now—so I now use your magazine to help me with my new business—you guessed it, collecting and selling military collectables.
Thank you so much for the letter. It is good to know that some of the boxes of MT that I sent to Afghanistan actually made it there!
And, welcome to the magazine. I hope you find it very rewarding. You may want to sign up for our bi-weekly e-newsletter as well. It has a lot of last-minute hobby news that you didn’t make it into the magazine. To subscribe, log on to www.militarytrader.com. In the upper left corner (and at the very bottom of the page) you will see a box to sign up for the e-newsletter. It is free of charge.
Good luck with the new business! If MT can be of any service, please do not hesitate to drop a line to our advertising manager, Tom Polzer (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). Tom has lots of good advertising packages for businesses ranging from recent start-ups to long-time members of the militaria community.—John Adams-Graf
WON’T BE BUYING MILITARY TRADER
In regard to my letter which you printed in the February issue concerning articles about Nazis, I want to say that I did not complain about collecting war relics. I complained about Military Trader’s policy of printing life histories of Nazi pilots and officers. They may have been heroes to the German people but they were brutal killers to the rest of the world.
Buy and sell war relics all you want, but don’t expect me to pay for a publication that features a regime that committed brutalities and horror all over Europe. Have you forgotten how these people gassed and burned people in ovens? When caught and asked why, they all excused themselves with, “I was only following orders.”
I served three years against these killers during WWII with thousands of others so you Nazi admirers would not be speaking German today. As long as Military Trader features life histories of Nazi killers, I will not buy the publication.
Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
SPOILS OF WAR
I though Kent Bedford’s letter in the May issue about the “spoils of war” hit the nail on the head! He finished his letter with the words “proof of victory” which is why we shouldn’t be afraid of it and exactly why Third Reich militaria is so abundant—even after 60+ years.
While the excesses of Hitler’s regime should never be forgotten, a different and curious generation has grown up in the meantime—fed with an abundant diet of war films, plastic model kits, history books and ephemera to maintain the the levels of interest. As a collector of many years and having interviewed a number of veterans, I believe we should be sensitive to their experiences and emotions. Respect needs to be a two way street, however and collectors shouldn’t have to be made to feel guilty because of the interest they have. It is, after all, a part of history.
I hope you weren’t too put off with Mr Greg Anderson who complained in the same issue about the amount of advertising MT. For what my humble opinion is worth, the advertising is a crucial element for the collector. I like to see who’s selling what and at what price. Personally, I love reading the adds and visiting the Web sites. It’s very advantageous for the zealous collector!
Ross, Tasmania, Australia
OUT OF THE WOODWORK
Military-related numismatic items and militaria collectables have always been of interest to me. Looking through a recent price list from Norman G. Peters of Lackawana, N. Y. one particular item caught my eye. A large 72 mm bronze medal struck for the Curtiss Wright Corporation, Airplane Division, Buffalo, N.Y., commemorating their Army-Navy Efficiency Award of August 20, 1942. I called Peters, an old friend and check for $29.50 was mailed that day. Two days later this beauty was on my desk.
Peters’ lists are interesting reading as all sorts of exonumia along with coins, banknotes, checks, receipts, medals and “whatchamacallits” are included. He is the “king of the hill” in this area on numismatics and can be contacted at P.O. Box 29, Lancaster, N.Y. 14086-0029.
GLAD WE COULD HELP!
Dear Mr. Adams-Graf,
Please accept my sincere “thank you” for printing my letter of inquirey concerning the numbered Legion of Merit in May’s “Mail Call.” I could have easily persued this for years to no result. Now, thanks to Military Trader and authors Fred Borch and Robert F. Dorr, I have the answer and the “book is closed” on the subject at last!
Let me also comment upon the exceptional quality of Military trader articles. They are, not only highly informative, but also have the “ring of truth.” In an era of frequent misinformation, your publications set the mark for quality.
Huntington Station, New York
I just received my copy of the July issue of Military Trader and read the article about the crook at the KC Show. I was a collector buying at that show as well (I live in McPherson in South Central Kansas). I think you need to publish the name of this dealer so they don’t con anyone else in my neck of the woods.
A little deterrent in the way of bad press can’t hurt in our hobby. It really stinks when you have to assume that everything is “too good to be true” in order to avoid being conned. Thanks and keep the great issues coming.
Hi Mr. Emery,
Believe me, I know what you mean! I sat with our lawyer for 45 minutes discussing this situation and what ramifications there were to publishing the name. You can well imagine a corporate lawyer’s take on the question.
The good news, though, is this: The show promoter agreed to not let this guy display at the KC Show. You may want to contact the promoter and voice your concern.
Here is a note from the McEvoys with “the rest of the story.”
It pleases me to know that from our misfortune, an increased awareness has formed. Hopefully, this will be a positive step towards making this hobby better for all.
Terri Stewart told me that she was receiving requests for our address, phone number, and offers to send Chase a variety of military collectibles. I explained to her, that all we really wanted was a refund from the individual who defrauded us, and our story to be told, to serve as a cautionary tale to others, and to make the collecting community aware of this type of activity.
A few weeks ago we received a check from the dealer who committed this indiscretion, (it seems he had a change of heart after receiving a persuasive letter from an attorney who was in attendance at the show) so we feel that we have been fairly compensated and therefore are not entitled to any further gifts or favors stemming from this incident. The positive response this has generated has been amazing. Just knowing that there are so many good people out there is more than enough compensation for us. We send a heart felt thank you to all who have shown support.
I am a major manufacturer of reproductions, www.1903.com and am very up front about it. If I ever find a dealer selling my items as real, I shut them off from supply and let other dealers know they will be shut off if they supply them.
At some of the shows, I spend half my time being called over by one dealer after another asking me to inspect items and give them my opinion on real or repro. Almost all of these items are not mine. In a way, it’s amazing how many of the top dealers don’t even know when they have a repro or cut down on their table. I even tell them what to look for to educate them as I look.
Their is a place for reproductions. Duncan Campbell said to me that without them, the hobby would become a very rich man’s hobby and no one would enter it in the future. I promised him to be honest and to educate people in how to spot them. I have kept my word.
Re-enactors who are an important part keeping history alive can’t afford to wear real items. My items are even in museums with the real items locked up to finish a display that otherwise would have holes.
I am glad to hear the boy got his money back and my hat goes off to the attorney who took the time to go after the guy.
You may want to remind readers if they get a repro in the mail that was advertised as real, to contact the Postal Inspection Service for postal fraud. If at a show and the dealer refuses to give a refund, call the police and charge them with fraud, they will get a refund very fast.
Dear Military Trader,
The letter in the July issue from the father of the 14-year old victim of an unscrupulous dealer raises several important issues, not all of which were addressed.
1) A 14-year old is a child. Therefore, if the story is true (we didn’t hear the dealer’s side), the dealer defrauded a child. A local lawyer agreed with my suspicion that a sale to a child is not binding (we do not know the laws of Kansas City that would apply, however). Therefore, I suspect that C. McEvoy was entitled to receive a refund for his son’s purchase because his son was a minor (the issue of authenticity of the items would be irrelevant). Perhaps C. McEvoy should have sought the aid of law enforcement.
2) The dealer’s argument that the sale was final because he wouldn’t believe that the items were fakes shows he is a crook! If the items were genuine, and sold at a fair or even undervalued price, what’s the problem with taking back these “authentic” items after only a few minutes? The dealer behaved as if he “stuck” someone and didn’t want to take his junk back!
3) I agree that this sort of thing is ruining this hobby that became big business. The show promoter and dealers who let this crook slide only hurt themselves and all of us. I was fortunate enough to receive help from a show promoter when I felt I was cheated at a major show. As long as fraud pays and goes unpunished, it will increase (and I feel it is becoming epidemic). Then all of our collections will be viewed with suspicion—and become worthless! We must agree on some enforceable ground rules for shows.
4) We should not be too hard on ourselves, however. Lying, cheating and stealing behavior is the norm in our society, from the highest levels of government to the humblest workplace. We have equated unscrupulousness with “strong” or “aggressive” leadership and business tactics.
5) The magnanimity of the Stewarts is to be applauded by all of us as the standard of conduct by which dealers and collectors should be known, as you pointed out so correctly! One of the pillars of our hobby showed me the same sort of kindness when I was just starting, and I haven’t forgotten for almost 40 years!
5) I disagree that studying references will help much to protect against fraud. Having read some of the chatter on collector sites from collectors and dealers having different levels of expertise, I’m confident that a good con artist can find high-quality fakes and defraud almost anyone out of a lot of cash on a given day! Even you, the editor, admit you still get “stung” (and you are in good company)!
—Doug P. Harr
14 YEAR-OLD COLLECTOR RIPPED OFF
Dear Military Trader,
I would like to share a disturbing event that took place at the Kansas City (Missouri) military show this past May. I attended with my 14-year- old son, who is an enthusiastic newcomer to the world of military collecting. He had been looking forward to this show since we attended it last year, and had managed through hard work and diligence to save almost $1,000 to spend on any items that appealed to his area of collecting.
On the first day at the show, my son fell prey to an unscrupulous dealer who convinced him that the three WWII-era German medals he was selling were absolutely authentic and being offered at a discount because the dealer was “getting out of the hobby.” My son asked my opinion. I stated that I wasn’t sure regarding the authenticity, and that $525 was quite a bit to part with so soon into the show. The dealer guaranteed my son that the items were genuine, and that they had been in his collection for 22 years, purchased from reputable dealers over the years, etc. “Take them, and be happy,” he said, “don’t worry.”
So my son paid this individual in cash, and we proceeded on. A few tables later another dealer noticed my son carrying these items, and was curious as to what they were. When my son showed him, he immediately recognized these as reproductions solely designed to defraud, complete with fake aging, tarnish and wear.
We immediately returned to the dealer who sold these and asked for a refund. He disputed the claim that these were fakes. I explained that my son was nevertheless uncomfortable with the purchase and would like a refund. The dealer flatly refused, and stated that “you looked at them, and knew what you were doing when you purchased them.” I reminded him that he guaranteed their authenticity and that implied a money back guarantee, to which he claimed he said no such thing. At this point I was dumbfounded, and my son began to get very upset, and began crying. I pleaded with this individual to return my son’s money, and take back the junk he cheated him with. He would not budge and became adamant about us leaving his table, when we would not, he covered up his items and walked away.
By this point my son was absolutely crushed at the thought of losing his hard-earned money, so quickly to such a shrewd operator. I decided to report this to the show promoter, who was shocked to hear of this and stated that he would get the money back. He approached the dealer with the phony items who angrily maintained the items’ legitimacy. The promoter then took them to seven well-regarded experts in this field of collecting. All agreed the items were reproductions.
The dealer who sold the items said he didn’t care what anyone said, and he was not going to return the money. At first the promoter told us he was going to confiscate all items on the dealer’s table until he returned the money, then that changed to throwing him out of the show, which then (over a period of tedious hours) was reduced to not letting him show again. Any thought of a refund was slipping away. Finally an agreement was reached between the promoter and the dishonest dealer to refund half of my son’s money (which wound up not even being that) in exchange for the phony items. This was a take it or leave it proposition. At this point I was absolutely furious but had to conclude that half the money was better than none, so reluctantly (albeit under protest) accepted this proposal, none of which made any sense to me.
As word of this got around, other dealers were shocked and appalled at what had transpired. There was talk of a united front to approach this crook and demand the money, but it soon became apparent that it was all talk.
The bottom line is that my son went home cheated out of $265 and without even a handful of fake relics to show for it. More importantly, this experience has completely soured him (and I) on this hobby, and that is the real shame. He is still in a state of total disbelief that an adult could look him in the eye, initiate his trust through a verbal guarantee, then openly defraud him, denying all previous claims 10 minutes later. This is precisely the type of thing that gives this hobby a bad name, and it’s unfortunate that there are reputable, honest dealers out there who will suffer at the hands of a dishonest few, but it only takes one such incident to damage the reputation of all. It certainly did in our case.
To all those who rely on these shows as your livelihood, you must realize that unscrupulous dealers and scam artists are going to kill this hobby/business if they are not weeded out, and punished soon. The youth are the future of this and every other field of endeavor. Taking advantage of their innocence, and lack of expertise is certain to poison the well for all who make a living in this field or who would like to see the continuation of the hobby.
I am so sorry to read this story. My sincere apologies to your son…he deserves so much better. I can’t offer much advice to your son, because I still am “stung” by dealers. I have tried to learn to listen to that voice in my head that warns me that something that is “so good” shouldn’t be “so cheap.” But the desire to believe is very strong. We are all guilty of wanting something to be real that we fail to listen to our judgment.
I am a stickler for acquiring information. I would suggest to your son that he spend about 30% of his collecting dollars on buying quality books and then study them. When I was a young collector, nothing gave me (or my Dad!) more pleasure than to “correct” the experts at shows.
I sure hope this experience doesn’t discourage your son and that the scars heal to serve as a reminder that there is very little honor in a room full of thieves. Seek out the good dealers, let them know what you want and let them hunt for you.
FROM TWO OF THE “GOOD ONES”
Editor’s Note. I shared the above letter with my dear friends Larry and Terri Stewart (www.StewartsMilitaryAntiques.com). Within moments, I received the following note:
Larry and I would like to offer this young collector a credit in our store in the amount of the $265 that he is out. Dealers like that give us all a bad name and in a world in short supply of young collectors, this is devastating.
We agree that books are the most important investment that can be made but rarely are. Please extend our offer to the family.
I am speechless. I have long regarded the Stewarts as a “class act.” This is a fine example of the best aspects of the hobby. Thank you, Larry and Terri. I am sure you made the young collector’s day!
AIR CAV CORRECTIONS
I am a subscriber and fan. However, in the interest of accuracy, I should point out some errors in Clement Kelly’s article on Air Cav pocket patches that appeared in the February 2007 issue (“Air Cav Pocket Patches from the Vietnam War”).
I served with 1-1 Cav from July 1970 until July 1971, in Vietnam, as a platoon leader/XO. 1-1 is the longest continuously organized unit in the U.S. Army. It was an armored cavalry squadron with three ground troops (A, B and C) and an organic air cav troop (D). Later, E and F Troops, 17th Cav were attached to the ground force.
1-1 Cav was deployed in 1967 (not 1968 as stated for Figure 1) to I Corps where it was attached to Task Force Oregon, and later the Americal Division. “Blackhawk” may have been used as D troop’s call sign before I got there (Figure 2), but more likely that would have been used at the Squadron level. When I was there, the D Troop call sign was “Sabre.” Blackhawk is the unit nickname because it was organized at Jefferson Barracks, MO, in 1833 in response to the Blackhawk War in western Illinois.
Figure 20 in the article is mis-identified as D Troop, 17th Cav. In fact, it is obviously a 1st of the 1st Cavalry patch and was worn by all of the troops when I was there as a member of A and C Troops. Oddly enough, we seldom got to operate with our air cav troop. More often, we were supported by F Troop, 8th Cav.
VIETNAM GRAFFITI ARTIST FOUND
In an earlier publication of the Military Trader, there was a article on the “artwork” on troop transports heading to Vietnam (“Vietnam Graffiti Discovered,” by Art Beltrone, March 2003). In one of the photographs, there was a drawing of the state of West Virginia with a message and the G.I.’s name. After a close look, I realized he was from a small town a few miles from my old hometown of Charleston.
I placed a phone call and quickly located his family and got his phone number. He now lives 50 miles away from my central Ohio hometown. I called him and, after a great phone visit, got his address and mailed the article on to him. He was in total shock to say the least! Kinda funny how things make the “full circle.”
Mt. Vernon, Ohio
HITLER JUGEND FILM PROJECTOR
Do any of our readers have any knowledge about a slide projector made in Dresden Germany during the 1930a? In particular, a Filmosto-Projektion, HJ Bildgertat F-3819.
I recently purchased one in an antique store. It has 20 rolls of film and a box to keep it in. It is wired for 220 volts, but works on 110 with an adaptor plug. It has Hitler Youth swastikas on the front with the legend “HJ Bildgerat and serial number F-3819.” The films are slides which must be loaded on two spindels on either side of the viewing lens. It projects on to a screen or to a wall. It is operated manually. It has training films for HJ and news about the war up to 1945. The original lamp still works. I had never seen one and am wondering what it is worth?
The projector with HJ films that I recall noticing was back in 1985. Bill Brudlos of La Crosse, WI, owned it (unfortunately, Bill passed away several years ago). At the time, he knew that I really liked HJ stuff, so he had picked it up with the intent to sell to me. He wanted $385 for the rig. That was way out of my league, though. Helmets were far more important to me at that time andwith the $380, I could have bought a nice chicken wire M35 helmet and a single decal Luftwaffe!
If we use that as the guide, a darn single decal Luft will sell for $350 today and the single decal chicken wire for about $1,500. So, by today’s standards, that would put the projector—if the same formula applies—pushing $2,000 today.
But, value is determined by supply and demand. The demand for helmets remains very high. The demand for projectors isn’t that high. On the other hand, HJ material has certainly risen in the last ten years.
The best indicator of value, then, is what the projector and films are worth to you. I think we collectors kid ourselves that we are buying the stuff as “investments.” Certainly, some of it is, but the bulk of it will stay with us till we die. Our estates will be liquidated by someone who doesn’t care as much about the stuff as we do. So, the whole investment angle becomes moot. It is only an investment if we are willing to sell it again.
The problem with asking values on collectibles, you never can be sure of the motive of the person giving the answer. If it makes you happy (and it sounds like you are tickled with the purchase!), then I would say you made a darn good purchase. If it didn’t take food off the table or make your spouse feel like you spent the vacation money, sit back, and enjoy it. The only guy you have to satisfy that you made a “good” purchase is yourself. It sounds like you already know that!—John
GERMAN COLLECTING: SPOILS OF WAR
After reading the letter from the man in Pennsylvania concerning Military Trader’s practice of publishing items about WWII Germans, I would tell him what I told a relative once. I showed her my collection of enamelled pins that included a few WWII German political pins. She threw them down and said, “Evil!” like they were a snake. I told her, “No, it’s history.”
All the German flags, daggers, medals, etc., brought back by the millions of veterans were not collected because they loved Hitler. The items were “spoils of war.” It was proof that their generation stood up to be counted when evil had to be destroyed and those souvenirs showed their children that they had won. I don’t collect German because I love Nazis, but because my father’s generation fought for freedom and took the items home as proof of victory.
STOLEN VALOR: WRITE TO YOUR REP!
By now many MT readers will be aware of the enormous controversy surrounding the December 2006 passage of the revised Stolen Valor Act. Previous to this latest revision, the collector/historian/preservationist community meekly accepted the earlier very harsh restrictions regarding the Medal Of Honor (MOH), effectively removing all possibility to legally own a MOH, unless one was the recipient. We should have protested strongly and loudly at that time in an organized way, but we didn’t. And we certainly should now with these even more restrictive regulations.
My personal opinion is that all federal medals, military or civilian, once awarded become personal property with no strings attached whatsoever. The government has no right to tell any of us what we can do with our own property. In that regard, I wrote to my congressional representative and two senators. I urge all concerned about this oppressive legislation to think about doing the same. If our elected officials are bombarded with our expressions of outrage, perhaps there will be some reasonable response.
I’m sure you have read Senator Conrad’s statement about how he did not mean his legislation to affect collectors, historians, etc., and he goes on to mention the Code of Federal Regulation (CFR). I have asked my congressman for copies of the CFR he refers to, but have not received anything so far. To date, I know of no CFR which specifically exempts collector activity or even mentions it in regard to medals.
Conrad says he doesn’t want to interfere with collectors or historians, but then exempts the MOH from this allowance. Why are other medals allowable to be collected but the MOH is not, when all become private property after they
Southern California Orders & Medals Society
LEGION OF MERIT
My compliments to Fred Borch and Robert F. Dorr for their fine article on the Legion of Merit (March 2007). I know of no other publication that would commit the amount of space necessary to present so much data on the subject. The writers did an exceptional job. Their presentation provided material that is hard to find!
However, I do have a question that perhaps you may be able to answer. I have a Legion of Merit (officer grade) with the number “2685” stamped on the reverse of the brooch. Is this an issue serial number? If so, is there any way to trace the name of the recipient?
Huntington Station, New York
Authors Fred L. Borch III and Robert F. Dorr replied, “Yes, the number on the Legion of Merit brooch is, in fact, a serial number. The Army initially wanted all Legions of Merit serial numbered—with the idea that they would be issued by number. Sadly, this never happened officially. Just too many awards and no one really cared.
“That said, a few—very few—commands recorded numbers in General Orders for awards made very early in World War II. But most did not. They just passed out the numbered Legions of Merit to awardees. The Army stopped numbering brooches in 1943.
“As for the numbers that were recorded in GOs, other than stumbling across these orders and numbers in the National Archives, there is no way to find them. In any event, I don’t think more than 100 or so numbers can actually be tied to an individual. Bottom line: Yes, it is a serial number. No, these were not recorded.”
Nice article on groupings (“WWII Groupings: The Value’s in the Details,” February 2007). As you mentioned, too often groups of materials have been ripped apart and sold piece-meal. They should be kept intact.
But on the other side of the coin, as you mentioned as well, dealers and collectors add items that were not originally a part of a uniform or group.
Worse yet, some have been known to remove some items (such as patches or collar insignia) only to replace them with less desirable examples or simply sew patches onto uniforms that had none. We used to call a person who added patches, a “patch adder”—a type of dangerous snake!
Usually, one can spot additions by the thread used, as WWI and most WWII items would not have been originally sewn with synthetic thread.
This does not hold true, however, for Vietnam items. The Vietnamese generally used cotton or silk thread instead of synthetic thread. This is true of “Cheap Charlie” in Saigon, however. I had bought a lot of synthetic thread for him in the United States. It was much stronger than the Vietnamese-made thread. He used it for sewing patches on uniforms but not for making patches (none were made with synthetic thread).
TOO MANY ADS IN MT
I was prepared to send in my subscription renewal when the April issue arrived…but instead, I have torn up my check and will not be renewing. Way too much advertising and too little content. There were roughly 38 pages of advertising and 16 pages of editorial content, 2 of which were book reviews. The advertisements are an important feature of your magazine and one reason I originally subscribed, but not the primary reason.
Lisbon, North Dakota