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Time for a Collector's Resolution!

According to Last Week’s Tonight host, John Oliver, if people have not yet broken this year’s resolutions, “statistically” they are about to. His sound advice was not on how to keep those inevitably broken promises but “how to revise them once you’ve failed.” I don’t know if I agree with that, but I am looking at it from the direction of a collector and historian—just like you.

Ten New Year’s Resolutions for Military Collectors

You haven’t made any promises to your self about collecting in 2016? It isn't too late, but there is a trick to ensure your resolutions are successful: Start with a goal. Ask yourself what is you want to achieve. Here are a few resolutions that you, as a collector, might want to consider:

1. Start your collection “inventory.”

Sure, inventory doesn’t sound fun, but it is an important aspect of curating a collection. If not for your own use, it will be essential for your heirs, should you happen to be hit by a bus this year. The more information you can leave in an organized fashion, the less likely your valuable relics will end up in a dumpster.

2. Rotate your items on display.

Light is one of the most damaging threats to your collection. Give some of your best items a “rest.” Take them off of display and put something fresh in their place. You will rediscover some cool aspects of your collection while lengthening the life of it.

3. Clean and Inspect.

If you have items or vehicles in storage, get them out and inspect them for rodents or insect damage. It will be a good time to check for any moisture seepage as well.

4. Sell a few items.

You say you are worried about the health of the hobby? Well nothing is better for good health than putting items into circulation. Cull out a few pieces and sell them. Let someone else experience the same excitement you felt when you first discovered the items.

5. Write something.

Many collectors like to call themselves “historians” but let’s be honest, until you share the knowledge you have, you are just a collector sitting in a corner. Real history is a sharing activity. Maybe you can share your accumulated collecting knowledge in a blog, a forum post, or an article.

Have you said you are “writing a book” but haven’t actually written anything yet? Start with an Introduction. That will help you formulate a plan for the rest of the work. But most importantly, start.  Again, if that bus hits you tomorrow, all that great knowledge rattling around in your brain about Jeeps, patches, helmets, medals, or whatever else—is lost on the pavement—unless you write it down.

6. Finish an area.

Whether you are restoring a truck, or collecting patches, determine an area that you will finish this year. Maybe its rebuilding a carburetor, or completing a set of Armor Division patches. Deciding on an achievable goal now will keep you focused later in the year when something might distract your hobby endeavors.

7. Expand: Try something new.

Have you been collecting the same thing for the last twenty years? Driving the same old M37 for a decade? Spread your wings, Baby…look at a new arena.

Nothing invigorates the collecting juices like settling in on a new area of activity (for me, I started collecting WWI medals issued to Minnesotans who joined the Canadian Expeditionary Forces—what a blast it’s been learning a whole new topic!)

8. Join other Collectors.

Subscribe to a hobby publication (like Military Trader or Military Vehicles Magazine—I know, that was a shameless plug) or join a society like the ASMIC, OMSA, the OVMS, or the local chapter of military vehicle enthusiasts. For the price of subscription or joining, you can open your collecting world to a whole new group of enthusiasts this year. But it starts with joining.

9. Go to a new show.

Plan a vacation or a trip around attending a show you have never attended before. One of the biggest thrills I have each year is when I walk into a show and realize I haven’t seen all the stuff before!

10. Share your Enthusiasm.

Make a point of introducing your hobby to at least one new person. Display your collection at a local event or national convention. Give a talk to a group of school kids or your Veteran’s organization. The point is, share what it is that excites you about collecting and history—it is infectious.


Once you have a goal, make a plan. It might even help if you write it down.

Then, put the plan into action. It's time to make things happen. After you decide on a resolution or two, initiate!

After a few weeks, review what's working with your resolution. Make adjustments and continue on your path. You will feel a great sense of personal satisfaction and pride in being a protector and curator of the historic relics you treasure.

Preserve the Memories,

John Adams-Graf

Editor, Military Trader and Military Vehicles Magazine

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