Road Trip: West Coast Historical Military Collectors Show

MT’s first trip to the “Third Jewel” in the Triple Crown of Militaria

The West Coast Military Collectors Show is a perfect blend of historical relics, living history and historic military vehicles.

The West Coast Military Collectors Show is a perfect blend of historical relics, living history and historic military vehicles.

 

By John Adams-Graf

For years, collectors and dealers have told us, “You really need to go to Pomona” (the generic term for the West Coast Military Collectors Show). Indeed, since the demise of the Great Western Show several years ago, we hadn’t really been too far west for any militaria shows, so a visit to the Left Coast was long overdue.

Were we ever surprised! Don’t let the proximity to Los Angeles fool you, flying to the Pomona Show is incredibly easy—Ontario International Airport is only about 15 minutes from the Fairplex where the show is held. Adding to the ease of attending, a massive Sheraton Hotel is right there within the complex.

As for the show, in particular, let me just say, “Wow!” I never expected it to be as large as it was. About 200 dealers filled about 3/4 of the large hall May 10 and 11. The remaining section was reserved for displays that included individual collections, historic military vehicles and living history exhibits.

Whereas there was much of the same sort of relics that one will find at East Coast or Midwest shows, a few areas stuck out as more prevalent: Japanese WWII relics, high-end patches and U.S. medals seem to be represented in stronger proportion at the West Coast Military Collectors show.

The American Society of Military Insignia Collectors (ASMIC) had a large booth with an incredible display of patches and Constabulary helmets. If you haven’t joined, check out the benefits of membership at ASMIC’s website, www.asmic.org.

The American Society of Military Insignia Collectors (ASMIC) had a large booth with an incredible display of patches and Constabulary helmets. If you haven’t joined, check out the benefits of membership at ASMIC’s website, www.asmic.org.

The show is not a “well-kept secret,” however. Just about anybody involved in the hobby who lives west of the Rockies was there. It was a surprise, however, to see the number of East Coast dealers moving about fast and buying furiously. This says to me, “Prices on the West Coast are better than usually found out East.” I don’t know if that is accurate, but the handfuls of daggers, swords and helmets I saw walking out the door would seem to support that.

Organizers Bob and Danielle Chatt have done a great job at integrating fun into the event. For example, each year they sponsor a military costume event that everyone takes quite seriously. About 20 individuals competed for some very nice trophies. Also, the Chatts have extended a “Free to Display” invitation to military vehicle owners. This aspect of the show is still in its infancy, but the ease of load-in and load-out coupled with clean, cool facility will certainly draw in more vehicle owners in the future.

Talking to dealers, I learned that sales were brisk, cash was flowing and the pickings were good: The three elements necessary for a show to be regarded as “successful.” One dealer commented that he regarded the West Coast Military Show the “third leg on the militaria milking stool” when coupled to the MAX Show and the Show of Shows.

We share the same opinion, but I might just rephrase it a bit: The Pomona Show is the “West Coast  Jewel on the Triple Crown of Military Shows.”

It was a big treat to meet my personal “publishing hero,” Roger Bender. You can’t really be on top of the collecting game if you don’t have Roger’s books in your library. Being a bit star-struck, I babbled something like, “When I grow up, I want to be Roger Bender!” He was nice enough to smile and say, “Thank you.” See the entire list of books available at www.bender-publishing.com

It was a big treat to meet my personal “publishing hero,” Roger Bender. You can’t really be on top of the collecting game if you don’t have Roger’s books in your library. Being a bit star-struck, I babbled something like, “When I grow up, I want to be Roger Bender!” He was nice enough to smile and say, “Thank you.” See the entire list of books available at www.bender-publishing.com

 

Our advertising man on point, Nick Ockwig, had the opportunity to sit and chat with James Lee, a Pearl Harbor survivor. He was operating Army radar at Schofield Barracks when the attack occurred.

Our advertising man on point, Nick Ockwig, had the opportunity to sit and chat with James Lee, a Pearl Harbor survivor. He was operating Army radar at Schofield Barracks when the attack occurred.

Scott and Holly Babcock had a number of tables on which they displayed their incredible reproductions. Scott explained, “It isn’t just reenactors who buy this stuff, but also serious collectors who know they may never be able to buy something like an original Deutschland Erwache banner.” Check out the entire stock of “Traders of the Lost Surplus” at www.totls.com.

Scott and Holly Babcock had a number of tables on which they displayed their incredible reproductions. Scott explained, “It isn’t just reenactors who buy this stuff, but also serious collectors who know they may never be able to buy something like an original Deutschland Erwache banner.” Check out the entire stock of “Traders of the Lost Surplus” at www.totls.com.

 

Collector Tanner Robbins had a great display of Navy Seal uniforms and equipment dating from 1975-2005. Surprisingly, Tanner has assembled this amazing collection in just a bit over two years. In that time, he has interviewed a number of Team 5 members as well.

Collector Tanner Robbins had a great display of Navy Seal uniforms and equipment dating from 1975-2005. Surprisingly, Tanner has assembled this amazing collection in just a bit over two years. In that time, he has interviewed a number of Team 5 members as well.

Mark McCaffrey and his wife drove down from Great Falls, Mont., to set up at the show. There were not too many instances available when our advertising man on point, Nick Ockwig, could sneak behind the table to say hello. Mark is known for having, primarily, high-quality U.S. militaria. If you haven’t run into him at the Show of Shows or one of several shows “out west” (he does show up at the Battlefield Show in St. Paul, Minn., too!), check out current inventory at fallscreekcollectibles.com

Mark McCaffrey and his wife drove down from Great Falls, Mont., to set up at the show. There were not too many instances available when our advertising man on point, Nick Ockwig, could sneak behind the table to say hello. Mark is known for having, primarily, high-quality U.S. militaria. If you haven’t run into him at the Show of Shows or one of several shows “out west” (he does show up at the Battlefield Show in St. Paul, Minn., too!), check out current inventory at fallscreekcollectibles.com

 

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