The New MAX

by Peter Suciu

A show is “reborn”


For 31 years, the Military Antiques Extravaganza (“MAX”) has been a  definitive show in the United States, but even long-time dealers admitted it wasn’t really the same in recent years. The hobby really hasn’t fully recovered from the “great recession” while competition from the Internet has hurt all shows.

At times, one wondered if the MAX might sadly fade off in the sun. That is, until last year when the Ohio Valley Military Society (owners of the Show of Shows), purchased the MAX.

This year, the show not only went on, it incorporated many changes. A new layout with more tables gave the show a fresh energy, while still keeping everything great that Tom Wittman and Tom Johnson originally started all those years ago.

About the only downer for the multi-day event was the early fall rains, but even those didn’t put a serious damper on the MAX. If anything, it signaled the start of the fall military show season and for 2015 it was truly to the MAX.

Here are what many long time attendees had to say:

“I was really quite pleasantly surprised by this year’s show and as a dealer it was the best MAX I’ve had in 10 plus years!”

—Eric Doody, Japanese WWII militaria collector

“The show has really improved with the new layout that provided for more tables and it improved the show a lot. I’ve always had a good time at this show and I’m glad to be a part of the 2015 show.”

Anthony Kullach, World War I Imperial German collector

“This is my first time here, and I had a great time and found some real treasures. It won’t be my last MAX Show.”

Troy Bahlau, American steel helmet collector

“This is the best Saturday I’ve had at the MAX in many years, and that says a lot about how far the show has come.”

William Zahn, German WWII Paratrooper collector

“I wish the Euro was stronger, which would have helped sales but it is nice to see the smiling European faces.”

Spencer Victory, Hipster guitarist and German WWII militaria dealer

“This was a very well organized show with lots of great stuff for sale. I’ve seen more American items than I’ve seen in years. It was also a really well trafficked show with a lot of new faces. OVMS has made a smooth transition and I’m damn happy to have to come back.”

-Jim Culberson – 19th and early 20th American militaria dealer

“I’m very happy with the show. I love the new layout and this is really the best foot traffic I’ve seen in a decade.”

Joe Godfrey, Helmet collector extraordinaire

“I bought and sold a lot this week. I love the new layout a lot. This has always been a show about wheeling and dealing and it was a lot of this week.”

-—William Leroy, American reality television personality, actor, businessman, and appraiser

“OVMS took a nice show to the next level. The quality of the show has only gotten better.”

Karl Kithier – German World War II militaria dealer

“The popcorn was really tasty this year.”

-— Ken Niewiarowicz

– German helmet author, collector, and dealer

his replica suit of armor practically greeted attendees to the show – how can you not love the MAX?

An MG08/15 with complete water can. While this example won’t shoot, it would make the centerpiece of any WWI collection.

Shoulder patches never go out of style at the MAX.


An assortment of U.S. helmets from Troy Bahlau were in the “action room” at the MAX.

Despite the sign – Bill Combs and his lovely wife Joyce are not old Spanish relics!

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