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Military Collecting in Isolation

In times of "Social Distancing," try these tips for enjoying militaria and military vehicles

Social distancing? I have been at for years. Many of you know that I have a small office in the “lower level” of a public building. That’s the fancy name for “corner office in the basement.” Just think of Melvin in the 1999 classic movie, “Office Space.” 

"Melvin" at his desk in the 1999 movie, "Office Space"

"Melvin" in Office Space

Add a bunch of WWI uniforms and shelves and shelves of books and you pretty much have a picture of my “office space.”

John Adams-Graf in office surrounded by uniforms, books, and historic photos.

JAG in his office space.

But, on a serious note, this pandemic is affecting all of us in many different ways. I actually left my cozy little office and moved my operations to my home where I am learning to share my work environment with my spouse.

I am writing this on Day 2 of self-isolation, and both of us have learned a few new lessons. For example, she was surprised that she can work from home and get a lot more done. From my point of view, I have a window (I have been in the “lower level” for about six years). We have both found it challenging to establish a decent background for video conferences (or to make sure we don’t walk behind the other when in one). Well, of course, the “dressing for work” has been more of an issue for me than her. But we are learning and adapting.

I am sure, as military vehicle owners and militaria collectors, we are all experiencing the same types of concerns during these trying times. Apart from worrying about our personal health and that of our loved ones, wealth management, food supply, and isolation are all factors that way heavily on everyone’s minds. Thankfully, we have our hobbies to provide distraction and balance.


It isn’t the end of the world. We are still collectors and our passions are very much a part of what makes us who we are. Unfortunately, the pandemic is reaching into our hobby, most obviously, with the cancellation and / or rescheduling of shows (see an update list of show cancellations at:

But, there are ways we can employ our hobbies—if, for no other reason, to keep us just a little bit more sane. After all, that is the whole point of a hobby—to provide a release from the every day trials and tribulations of life. Well, it’s time for our hobbies to step up!

If you are a militaria collector, here are a five suggestions for “Militaria while Social Distancing:”

1. Sort it out. Take the time to organize your riker mounts or storage. You know you have been letting things pile up. Designate a couple of hours each week to organize. Separate items into “keep” or “sell” piles. Figure out conservation priorities. Basically, do what a collector does: Categorize and organize.

2. Research. Pick out a few items to research. You now have the time to explore online and in your library to flesh out the story of a particular relic as it relates to the soldier who used it. Don’t get sidetracked. Pick out one item to work on and give yourself a couple of hours. Then, move on to the next.

3. Write. Have you “always been planning to write” about something? Well, no better time now than when you are forced to stay home and isolated! People are predicting lots of Coronavirus babies in nine months. Well, I am predicting a whole lot of great articles for Military Trader!

4. Photograph / Scan. If you are like me, you have been amassing historic photographs. Now is a great time to catch up on your scanning. Or, have you been meaning to photograph your collection for insurance or other documentation? Now is a great time to set up a dedicated “photo studio” and jump into the project.

5. Stay connected. Use the advantage of forums, magazine subscriptions, and enewsletters to keep your interest up. Remember, our hobby is a great medicine against the problems of isolation. Sharing historic tidbits with each other helps all of us keep our sanity. 

I have a few suggestions for you historic military vehicle enthusiasts (though some of these overlap with the miitaria collectors).

1. Organize. I spent Day 1 of isolation in my garage just clearing off my work bench and putting away tools. When I have the time to be out there, I want to be able to do and find what I need.

2. Prep Your Vehicles. The outbreak has coincided with our spring. This is a natural time for historic military vehicle owners to prep their vehicles for the season. So, don’t be afraid to go outside and change oil, check fluids, lube chassis, and rotate tires. Just be sensible. Don’t let the neighborhood kids stand around and watch you.

3. Go for a drive. Heck, the CDC is saying it is alright to go for a drive. What better way to do it then to take out one of your jeeps or trucks? Again, be sensible. Wanna really freak out folks, don one of your vintage gas masks as you drive your Jeep around town!

4. Write. Okay, some may begin to think this post is self-serving with me trying to get you to finally write that article you have been promising. Well, no better time than right now!

5. Plan a future convoy. I just finished editing a great article about convoy planning that Mark Sigrist wrote for Military Vehicles Magazine. The one take-away I had from it is: It takes a lot of time, thought, and planning to conduct a fun convoy, whether for a huge group or just a few friends. Sitting down with maps and brochures to plan a safe, fun, and engaging route could provide some great opportunities when we emerge from this pandemic.

I will have more ideas as will you on how to allow our hobbies to provide some get-away during this pandemic. Share them with me at:

Be sure to keep your subscriptions to Military Trader and Military Vehicles Magazine. We are still here and will continue to provide you with the information that keeps you engaged, entertained, and informed.

And, if you have not subscribed to our free enewsletter  (cleverly named the “Militar-E-News”), do so now. I use this to send you to up-to-date show and auction news, share a few interesting history tidbits, and to just give you an opportunity “to get away from it all” for just a few minutes. We send it out every Friday, come rain, shine, or, in this case, to minimize the affects of “social distancing.” Sign up for it here:

Photo of John Adams-Graf in temporary office space with hand sanitizer, two computers, and a pistol on his desk.

From my new "Office Space" in the guest bedroom...

Cover of the 2020 Bonus issue of Military Vehicles Magazine

Did you know MVM is available for print OR digital delivery? CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Be well, stay calm, don't touch my stapler, and…

Preserve the Memories and Keep ‘em Rolling,

John Adams-Graf

Editor, Military Trader and Military Vehicles Magazine

Frontline Feature


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