We are all in this together. In an effort to report on the state of different facets of the military collectibles market, Military Trader strives to discover and share the opinions of the hobby’s leading dealers and collectors. This month, we had the privilege to talk with Jean-Pierre. Most will recognize his name as one of the longest running advertisers in Military Trader.
Jean-Pierre has been a collector of militaria since he was a young boy and a world-class militaria dealer since he moved to Pennsylvania, 20 years ago.
Born in France, Jean-Pierre has been passionate about history for his whole life. His father was a paratrooper during the war in Algeria and his grandfather, a Medal of Resistance winner, fought in the Battle of Paris where he was wounded. Jean-Pierre was a gendarme in the army, and his brother was also a paratrooper. Jean-Pierre’s father, Robert, is a well-known figure in the military shows in the United States
Though Jean-Pierre offers a wide range of military relics, he is best-known for his offerings of Third Reich militaria. With more than twenty years experience in buying, selling, trading and collecting, he has a very good sense of the ebs and flows of the hobby. We are pleased to offer his response to our “10 Questions.”
Military Trader: Thanks so much for taking the time to meet with us. It probably isn’t exaggerating to say, “If I go to any military show in the United States and mention the name, ‘Jean-Pierre,’ people will know about whom I am speaking.” You are very well known within our hobby. Why do you think that is the case?
Jean-Pierre: I always followed my father early at the flea markets in Paris, looking for some military collectibles. This is where I learned to negotiate and learn the passion of finding new items. And, 40 years ago, anything could come up at the flea market in Paris.
Military Trader: You approach the hobby in a way many “old-timers” recognize: You publish a nice two-page add full of offerings each month in Military Trader and you publish a print catalog, all in addition to maintaining a website. Why do you find these approaches the best method for buying and selling militaria?
Jean-Pierre: Young collectors will use modern tools to find collectibles, while older collectors will go with traditional tools such as a good magazine and a good catalog. I use both of those tools to reach a large panel of potential collectors and customers.
Military Trader: How would you characterize a “typical” military collector today? How has that person’s collecting habits changed in the last twenty years?
Jean-Pierre: Collectors haven’t changed much over time. I don’t think that much has changed over the past twenty years. People who are interested in history and interested in owning historical objects will follow their desires. It is like a craving – almost an addiction – for some.
Military Trader: Helmets, caps, daggers, medals, flags, uniforms—there is so much variety under the umbrella of military relics, and you seem to have offerings in all of the major categories. How do you replenish your inventory?
Jean-Pierre: I do travel a lot across the United States. I will travel to California, Florida, and Chicago. Every month, I spend a couple days in New York, Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, and other surrounding areas searching for new inventory.
Military Trader: I will admit, I always read your advertisements and am tempted by your selection and prices. What makes me hesitate, though, is the lack of any photographs. How do you deal with customers who want to see or learn more before making a purchase?
Jean-Pierre: My father does attend many military shows around Paris. He will ship collectibles to me, here in the United States. I, myself, do go twice a year to Europe to see what might be new at the shows. Having my parents in the Paris area helps me a lot.
Military Trader: Your ads seem to contain items “for all pocketbooks.” What changes, if any, have you witnessed in buying patterns since the Recession of 2008?
Jean-Pierre: No matter what, if people are passionate enough, they will keep collecting and buying collectibles and books. Also, when you buy collectibles, you always have a relationship between vendor and buyer. It is nice to share your passion with someone, and every month receive a parcel that will bring you joy.
I always keep some beginner items for new collectors to start slowly. As they grow their collection, they will spend more money over time.
Military Trader: With two pages of advertising every month for the last 15 years, you must be very busy?
Jean-Pierre: Yes, if I want to have fresh and different merchandise every month, I have to travel a lot. Some people will give me pieces to sell on consignment. I also keep busy by purchasing old toys.
Military Trader: What areas of militaria are particularly “hot” with your customers?
Jean-Pierre: I have a wide variety of customers who collect many different items. Some will collect by country, while others will collect by subject. Some lawyers will collect pieces concerning the Nurnberg Trial. In some cases, people use their former military background to collect historic pieces related to their former service.
Military Trader: Our readers love stories about collectors’ “Favorite Finds.” Tell us about what you consider one of your favorite finds during the past 30 years.
Jean-Pierre: Not too long ago, I purchased a grouping from Field Marshal Rommel. That was one of my best finds, and I share it today with some pictures for the Military Trader.
Military Trader: And finally, the question we all want to ask the experienced veteran collectors, such as yourself, “How will Third Reich collecting change over the next ten years?”
Jean-Pierre: Collecting is very addicting if you are passionate about history and complete the correct research. If you are not crazy about history, you won’t enjoy your collection and won’t follow through with the necessary research to buy great pieces.
Whenever I visit someone who wants to sell his collection, we always speak a lot about history before we make a deal. I enjoy that the most. I think that as long as collectors have that passion, not much will change over the next 10 years.
To learn more about Jean-Pierre’s business, or more importantly, to view his current offerings, log onto http://pierrescoinsandcollectibles.com, or contact Jean Pierre by writing, Pierre’s Collectibles, P.O. Box 331, Exton, PA 19341; 610-420-0236; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org