Happy new year!
What will be the hot military items in 2011? I am no Nostradamus, but I will put my neck out and make a few predictions:
1. If you have been waiting to buy a historic military vehicle, now will be the time. The sluggish economy, miserable returns on investments and the “graying of the hobby” continue to flood the market with vehicles. Prices have been falling for softskin WWII wheeled vehicles. Prices are down from where they were 10 years ago. The prices will probably stabilize during 2011 but it will be a while before prices trend upward.
2. Conversely, prices of M-series 2-1/2 tons will start to creep up in 2011 as a result of the shrinking pool of surplus trucks. Most 2-1/2-tons have been phased out of the Army Reserves and National Guard units. As the last trucks trickle through the system to be sold at auction, buyers are going to become aware of the shrinking supply and drive up prices.
3. You read it here first—in 2011, Civil War relics will begin to experience a small resurgence. This will result from the kick-off of 150th Anniversary with many states dedicating a lot of resources to commemorating the Civil War. Several “maximum effort” reenactments including the 1861 battles of Bull Run and Wilson’s Creek will jump start a lot of collectors to once again seek common accouterments, belt plates, images and weapons. Prices won’t rebound to those of the mid 1990s, but at least the stuff will start selling again!
4. “Identified” medal groups—both U.S. and foreign—will continue to rise in price. Demand has been very high for attributed Purple Hearts, valor groups and attributed British medals. Prices will continue to grow until the demand is met and stabilized.
5. Sales of common German WWII awards will slow down considerably. This will result from two things happening: Many old collections are hitting the market and there simply aren’t enough new collectors to absorb the increased supply. Middle-aged collectors have already acquired most of what they want in this particular realm of collecting so won’t be likely buyers if prices don’t drop.
6. Vintage Class III weapons like Thompsons, MP-40s and MG-08s will experience a drop in average selling price. Again, the faltering economy has left less “extra” money for toys. Face it, Class III weapons are just big toys. As folks are threatened with the loss of jobs, homes or investment income, the toys are the first to go: Boats, motorcycles and machine guns (maybe not in the order, but you get the idea!)
The flip-side of this is: If you have been saving for a vintage Class III weapon, 2011 might be the year to buy it! With promises of a rebounding economy, some consumer confidence will return and prices will start going up again. That might be in 2011 but it doesn’t look like it is going to happen any time soon. So, start shopping for that MG!
7. Military collectors will buy more books than usual. This isn’t so much a prediction, but rather, a trend that I have seen during previous economic downturns. A bad economy usually means that folks are spending less on their collection but turn to magazines and books to satisfy their desires.
It should be a good year for publishers. It will also be a good year for readers, because writers and advanced collectors will be settling down to complete long-overdue research projects attention to serious writing.
However, collectors be warned: Publishers are being seduced by the notion of no-cost publishing by producing electronic books. They love the idea of delivering the product without any of the cost of printing it. But, they haven’t figured out that collectors are tangible-beasts. We like to hold our books, line them up on shelves and see the stacks of them grow. It will take a while for publishers to recognize this, so there might be some very good books that are condemned to electronic delivery only in the meantime. If something comes out as an e-book and it covers your area of collecting, don’t hold out for a print version… it probably will never happen.
8. The way collectors interact electronically will shift dramatically. We have all read the news: More people use Facebook than Google. Social networks are evolving and as a result, Internet forums are losing their traction.
Many are tired of “forum” experts who either monopolize threads, condemn all they see or just make a general pest of themselves. Small, tight groups of individuals are gathering on private networks through Facebook to further explore their interests without having to put up with all the background noise of a forum.
Internet forums aren’t dead, but the demographics of those who use them are shifting. Older, mature advanced collectors seem to be drifting away from the larger established militaria and historic military vehicle forums in great numbers to rediscover smaller, more condensed gatherings of enthusiasts on smaller forums, Facebook and even Twitter (though I predict the latter will seriously lose ground in 2011).
9. Militaria shows and military vehicle rallies will regain a vital role in the hobby. Again, this will be a direct result of the changing nature of how eBay treats individual sellers. In 2011, eBay will begin reporting sales to the U.S. government so anyone who sells will be subject to taxing. People will return to shows to continue to buy and sell “under the radar.”
10. And finally, my most “out there” prediction for 2011? In 2009, I predicted a new website would emerge for military collectors to buy and sell. Soon thereafter, Empire Auctions made their debut and have established themselves as a first-rate online auction site specializing in Third Reich militaria sold with a guarantee of authenticity.
Since that time, a lot has happened. Manions has had to regroup to try to once again become a profitable site and eBay has gone to great lengths to make it increasingly difficult for individuals to sell militaria.
So, once again, I will predict that a new medium for buying and selling military relics will emerge and gain the strength and confidence of the hobby in 2011. I don’t know what that site is, but I am certain several will attempt to fill the role and by the end of 2011, one will have emerged as the obvious new choice for serious collectors.
That is all I see in the crystal OD ball right now. I would be curious to read what other soothsayers might predict to be hot military collectibles in 2011. Use our “comments” section below to make your own predictions for 2011 or to share your views on the ones I have made.