A Deep Look Into Militaria Collectors - Military Trader/Vehicles

A Deep Look Into Militaria Collectors

We asked collectors, "What do you collect, spend, and attend?" Here are the results of hobby survey.
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JAG FILE HEADER

You would be surprised how many in our hobby don’t use computers. It is a simple reflection of demographics rather than some underground movement to deny technology. Our hobby tends to be attractive to people with disposable income. Those people are usually older, and many older people tend to be less technology-friendly. Yes, those are vast, broad-brush statements, and I am sure you or someone you know is the antithesis to the remarks, but when viewed statistically, that is how the numbers play out.

Every February, thousands of militaria dealers and collectors from around the world converge at the Show of Shows in Louisville, Kentucky.

Every February, thousands of militaria dealers and collectors from around the world converge at the Show of Shows in Louisville, Kentucky.

In fact, for every military history enthusiast who doesn’t use a computer, there is another person out there discovering the breadth of material available online. No judgment here: The dollars in either of those customers’ pockets are equally valuable.

When our company’s marketing department chose to survey our Military Trader readership solely through electronic means in 2016, I thought that would produce a very skewed perspective of the hobby. Therefore, I decided to conduct a survey of the magazine’s readership by inviting them to participate solely through the printed magazine.

Over the period of three issues of the Military Trader, I asked readers to take the time and complete this survey. I made no promise of reward for participation but promised that the input would be shared with those who formulate the plan of how the magazine can best serve our customers.

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In all, 95 paid subscribers took the time to fill out the survey and mail it back to me. I didn’t provide an immediate online method for transmitting the results, though several respondents did send me an electronic image of their response rather than use the postal service.

The results of the survey are tabulated and reported below. As you will see, there are a lot of active members of our hobby who do not go to the Show of Shows, participate in online auctions, or are members of online forums. This survey has served as a good reminder to me that there are more people in our hobby than those I encounter on eBay, at shows, or online forums. (Percentage of error is based on JAG's ability to do basic math).

  1. Gender: 99% Male; 1% Female
  2. Age:
    under 20: 0%;
    21-30: 1%
    31-40: 3%
    41-50: 1%
    51-60: 17%
    61-70: 29%
    71+: 48%
  3. How long have you been actively collecting military items?
    < 1 year: 2%
    1-5 years: 1%
    6-10 years: 5%
    11-15 years: 10%
    16-20 years: 11%
    more than 20 years: 71%
  4. What are your main eras of collecting (check all that apply):
    WWII: 84%
    WWI: 50%
    Vietnam: 35%
    American Civil War: 30%
    Korean War: 25%
    Spanish American War: 19%
    Cold War: 13%
    War on Terror: 11%
    Indian Wars: 10%
    Revolutionary War-Mexican War: 10.5%
    Franco-Prussian War: 3%
    Napoleonic Wars: 2%
    Grenada: 1%
    OTHER: 3%
  5. What do you collect (check all that apply):
    Helmets: 61%
    Firearms: 60%
    Medals: 58%
    Patches / insignia: 50%
    Knives / daggers: 47%
    Other Headgear (caps, hats, etc.): 41%
    Uniforms: 39%
    Swords: 37%
    Flags /banners: 36%
    Photographs: 31%
    Books / publications: 31%
    Accouterments: 27%
    Ordnance: 27%
    Ephemera / documents: 25%
    Coins / stamps: 25%
    Groupings: 21%
    Trench Art: 21%
    Toys / Models: 16%
    Posters: 14%
    Steins / porcelain: 12%
    Rations / Crates: 12%
    Military vehicles: 8%
    Radios / communications: 7%
    Timepieces: 5%
    OTHER: 14%
  6. Do you collect Third Reich material?
    Yes: 61%
    No: 24%
    I used to but no longer: 15%
  7. How many military and/ or gun shows do attend each year?
    None: 8% of respondents
    1-2: 28% of respondents
    3-4: 24% of respondents
    5-6: 16% of respondents
    7 or more: 24% of respondents
  8. Have you ever attended the Show of Shows?
    Yes: 35%
    No: 65%
  9. Will you go again?
    Yes: 79%
    No: 21%
  10. Have you ever attended the MAX Show?
    Yes: 34%
    No: 66%
  11. Will you go again?
    Yes: 58%
    No: 42%
  12. How many auctions do you attend—in person—each year?
    None: 56%
    1-2: 21%
    3-4: 6%
    5-6: 2%
    7 or more: 15%
  13. Besides eBay, in how many online auctions do bid each year?
    None: 62%
    1-2: 14%
    3-4: 7%
    5-6: 3%
    7 or more: 14%
  14. In how many collecting-based internet forums/bulletin boards do you actively participate?
    None: 77% do NOT participate
    1-2: 15% participate
    3-4: 3% participate
    5-6: 2% participate
    7 or more: 3% participate
  15. About how much have you spent on your collection in the past year?
    6% spent $0
    6% spent $1-$500
    14% spent $501-$1,500
    36% spent $1,501-$5,000
    12% spent $5,001-$10,000
    23% spent $10,001+
  16. Do you actively sell militaria?
    27% Yes, I actively sell
    63% No, I do not actively sell
  17. What was the value of militaria you sold in the past year?
    55% sold $0
    3% sold $1-$500
    10% sold $501-$1,500
    11% sold $1,501-$5,000
    3% sold $5,001-$10,000
    3% sold $10,001-$50,000
    15% $50,001+
  18. What are your plans for your collection?
    Keep buying until I'm in the ground: 32%
    Pass it on to family or friends: 21%
    Sell it piece-by-piece: 16%
    Consign to an auction: 13%
    Sell entire collection to a dealer: 9%
    Donate to a museum: 2%
    Other or Undecided: 7%
  19. How long have you subscribed to Military Trader?
    Not a subscriber: <1%
    <1 year: 2%
    1-5 years: 20%
    6-10 years: 39%
    11-15 years: 11%
    16-20 years: 6%
    more than 20 years: 21%

Thank you to everyone who shared their information on this and previous surveys. We are committed to providing a quality resource to you.

John Adams-Graf, editor
Military Trader and Military Vehicles Magazine

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