His letter reminded me of a recent discussion on the U.S. Militaria Forum. Several participants had unleashed tirades on a group of bidders who had bought movie memorabilia used in the making of “Battlestar Galactica.” (Why was this on the U.S. Militaria Forum, you ask? Beats me.)
The letter from the Military Trader reader and the discussion on the U.S. Militaria Forum stirred the memory of something my grandmother used to say, “How a fool spends his money is his own business.” In both examples, the people doing the complaining assumed they knew the motives of the buyers. The only people who can answer that are the ones who laid out the cash. And it is only the business of the buyer, whether they chose to spend their money on a fancy dagger or a wookie glove (okay, I am the first to admit — I don’t know a thing about Battlestar Galactica).
I asked myself, “Why do people find the need to rehash other people’s purchases?” In the case of the forum discussion, the motives seemed a bit cloudy. What I took away from the discussion was this: Those who were tearing down the movie memorabilia buyers did so in order to justify the expenditures they make on their own military collecting hobby.
On the other hand, the letter writer’s motive was much clearer. He assumed the buyer was buying the dagger as a historic artifact. The letter writer went on — at length — to demonstrate how the dagger was not what the auction company had described. In fact, the dagger probably didn’t even exist during WWII. His argument was good and his documentation sound. However, it had one fatal weakness — it was built on the assumption that he knew the buyer’s motive.
Who is to say why someone buys a dagger or a piece of movie memorabilia? Maybe the dagger buyer simply likes fancy knives for letter openers or wants to make a grand entrance at the next family BBQ. Perhaps the movie memorabilia purchases stir a very good memory in the buyer’s mind of when he or she first experienced the movie. It doesn’t — and really shouldn’t — matter to anyone but the buyer. Judging it can be a dicey. You know the old adage, “One person’s junk is another’s treasure.”
ALL COLLECTORS LIVE IN GLASS HOUSES
There is so much to be enjoyed in our military relic and vehicle hobbies without questioning someone else’s motives for buying something. My family laughs at my collection of “high-priced empty boxes”. They see empty boxes. I see a historic record of U.S. Army ration containers from WWI and WWII. It’s all in one’s perspective. If I want to spend money on empty boxes, that’s my business.
So what’s the moral of this tale? Well, other than “Be careful what you write to JAG, he might use it as fodder for one of his rants”, I guess it might be something like, “Don’t assume you know someone else’s collecting motives.” Collecting is a quirky business fraught with deep psychological roots. It’s best not to judge other people’s motives. After all, you wouldn’t want the “insane price” you just paid on the “broken down jeep” or that “crazy old Nazi helmet” to appear as a topic on their own forums or in their magazines!
Keep treating folks the way you would like to be treated,
Editor, Military Trader and Military Vehicles Magazine