An antique mall where I have a small booth sent out a notice recently that read, “Items bearing swastikas will no longer be permitted in seller’s spaces.” Call it what you will, but I understand their reasoning — though I don’t necessarily agree with it.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
This past year has brought about a lot of change in our world, both within the hobby and outside of it. In addition to changing societal norms, shows and events have created whole new lists of criteria to be met before we can play, display, and sell. To further complicate matters, the criteria changes across state lines, and sometimes, within the same state.
“Wear a mask,” “stay six feet distant,” “no more than 200 people at a time,”— there are new things to add to my “show checklist.” But those criteria — whether you agree with them or not — are pretty straight-forward and easily enforced. Thought-policing, however, is another matter.
WHERE TO SELL MILITARY RELICS OF ANY NATION?
A friend dropped me a recent email that began, “I know I can’t on eBay or Etsy, but where can I sell a handful of Third Reich insignia?” That simple question, along with my aforementioned note from my antique mall, really left me scratching my head. Where CAN he (or you or me) sell military items that are now deemed “offensive?”
Apart from starting his own web site or opening his own store, I didn’t have a good answer to give my buddy. A lot of marketplace-type groups have popped up on Facebook and Craigslist, but all of those are just one report to the corporations from being shut down for violating policies regarding “offensive material.”
But then, I realized there are still private forums like Wehrmacht Awards or the World Militaria Forum where there are open buy-sell venues. While these seem to be viable options, they are not for the novice or, like my buddy, a casual seller. Posting something on a forum for sale opens you and your item to a lot of opinions — and not necessarily well-informed opinions.
If the herd doesn’t “like” a particular item, you have sacrificed that piece to the “unsaleable” pile. Opinions on the internet are like pee in the pool…they will forever taint your item and you will never be able to get it clean again.
So, again, the question, “Where to sell?” I am sorry if you have read this far and expected some sort of epiphany. I don’t have one.
Preserving history is a commitment that each of us makes. Part of that commitment is educating others about the past. Now, more than ever, this is a crucial role each of us must do. Because, if we don’t, the day will come where it will be impossible to sell an SS dagger, Confederate kepi, or even reference them.
The Ohio Valley Military Society has led the way with a very good campaign of posters and media shares at the Show of Shows and MAX Show that explains that we preserve history by sharing the soldiers’ stories and souvenirs. Their statement of purpose is straight-forward:
The Society promotes the study and the discussion of military history, military artifacts, and their provenance through the collecting of military items.
You have probably seen the signs at shows. The OVMS has created a very effective campaign. You may want to copy their ideas and share their explanations in your booth space, on your show table, or even in your own collection area.
A friend shared another good example of how to address "uncomfortable history." She took the below photo at the Veterans Memorial Museum in Branson, Missouri, and shared with me, “Entering this part of the museum, the Vets in our group were getting pretty "agitated" (including my husband) — until they read this sign:
"Captured artifacts from Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan are on display for historical purposes only. Their display should, in no way, be taken as an endorsement of the beliefs or ideology of our enemies. Far from it: The Veterans Memorial Museum has no sympathy for the beliefs of America’s enemies — enemies that were defeated at great cos by the veterans honored by this institution. Artifacts of repugnant nature are displayed for the sake of historical truth and as tangible symbols of our triumph over evil."
She added to her note, “THIS is how ALL history should be portrayed!”
This is just my opinion, and I am sure many will disagree, but to preserve the privilege of being able to buy, sell, collect, and preserve military relics is incumbent on each of us to educate others as to why this is important. Forget about "defending your rights.” This never convinces anyone, and after all, we all know that the rights are only those that “the club” grants to its members — whatever the club.
Now is the time for you to actually get out and educate. Simply sharing why you have a passion for military history will help others see the importance of the artifacts we collect.
Sincere explanation of the meaning and importance of history will be contagious — even if the person you are educating is wearing a mask and standing six feet away.
Preserve the Memories,
John Adams-Graf, Editor
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