MAX-imum Show: Scenes from the Military Antique Xtravaganza!

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by Peter Suciu

Fall means many things, including the time when the kids go back to school, summer vacation is in the rear view mirror and the kickoff of football season. For militaria collectors, it is the start of a new season of shows including the always impressive Military Antique Xtravaganza.

The 29th annual show, which remains amongst the top events for collectors nation—and even world-wide—did not disappoint. While it seemed a little smaller than past years, and there were even a few noticeably empty tables this didn’t slow down the buying and selling between dealers and collectors. The show was held in again in Monroeville, an eastern suburb of Pittsburgh, Pa., from October 3-5.

“It started off as a very strong show,” said advanced Japanese militaria collector and dealer Eric Doody, who made the annual trek from Connecticut. “Thursday saw a lot of activity and it has been a good show.”

Doody was not alone in the dealers who expressed the feeling that while the government may have been in the midst of a shutdown there was no slowdown in the buying fever in the Monroeville Convention Center.

“I’m broke,” said German helmet expert Ken Niewiarowicz on Friday afternoon. “I spent all my money, spent all my friends’ money, spent money I borrowed, spent money I stole from my son. But I’ll continue to poke around. I love this show and I will be honestly sad when it comes to an end on Saturday.”

While there was a general feeling that prices were once again on the rise, deals were to be found, but interested parties needed to act fast. The show as usual had an emphasis on items of the Third Reich, but also included a solid mix of American, Japanese, British and other international militaria. In other words, just as in past shows there was truly something for everyone – provided the buyer had the cash to make the transaction happen.

“It has been a good show as usual,” said Jeff Shrader of Advanced Guard Militaria, who headed east from Missouri to attend the event.

Dealer and noted appraiser Craig Gottlieb echoed that this year’s MAX took it up a level. While Gottlieb, who has numerous projects in the works, was unable to bring much to the show for sale, he was on hand to offer free appraisals and to take in the show.

“The show is what you make it, and I had a good show,” Gottlieb noted.

With a solid mix of items available beyond the expected Third Reich items some dealers expressed and opinion that the show could continue to attract new blood, and even bring new collectors in the hobby.

“What would the fall be without the MAX?” opinioned dealer Bill Combs of AGM Ohio. “It’s the best MAX it could be.”

More images from the show:

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