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MAX Celebrates 25 Years

Quarter century anniversary of MAX Show to celebrate with opening of new center
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September 2, 2009

Story by Thomas T. Wittman, Photos by Jane McDonald, MAX staff photographer
October 1-3, 2009, marks the quarter century anniversary for the internationally acclaimed MAX Show. The milestone will be celebrated with the opening of the new Monroeville Convention Center, a pristine 100,000 square foot facility, located just across the street from the former Center.

The old Pittsburgh Expo Center has been converted to office space. The new convention center was completed within this last year, opening just in time for the fall MAX Show. The facility will accommodate 1,200 dealer tables and has spacious and convenient loading areas. The facility is complete with a large snack bar, serving hot meals and sandwiches, along with soft drinks and beer. Eating tables and seating will be provided in an adjoining hall.

For 2010, MAX’s new host hotel will be a luxurious Doubletree, that will replace the old Radisson. We are expecting to take hotel room reservations for the 2010 show, at the termination of the show on Saturday, Oct. 3. The new Doubletree will have 190 rooms available for MAX Show attendees.

Collectors always expect to see the rare and unusual. One of the most interesting quality exhibits on display at The MAX are the major contents from the D-Day Museum in Normandy, La Percée d’ Avranches, commemorating the Avranches breakthrough and the liberation of France. The artifacts document the landing of Allied troops on the beaches and the fighting over Normandy. The museum’s collection of equipment and weapons used by the armed forces fighting in the Battle of Normandy was assembled by native, Maurice Bazin. Having originally witnessed the Normandy campaign at the age of 12, he began the collection when a local farmer gave him a Mauser carbine.

The humble gift spurred his interest and Bazin spent the next 60 years methodically assembling the Normandy collection – a true collector! Bazin decided to share the collection with the public beginning in 1986. By 2008, the collection had grown to include 130 firearms, hundreds of pieces of equipment, over 150 fully uniformed mannequins, and more than forty military vehicles.

Many of these artifacts have been flown to America and will be featured at the MAX, prior to an auction to be held by the prestigious and successful German auctioneers, Hermann Historica of Munich on November 12 and 13, 2009. The staff from Hermann Historica will be on hand to answer questions concerning this important collection and auction.

Another famous auction company will also be represented at MAX this year for the first time. The Cowan Auction of Cincinnati, owned by Les Cowan will be manning tables at the MAX. The Cowan auction is well known for their outstanding auctions featuring antique guns and militaria. Many of our attendees will also recognize Mr. Cowan for his leading role in the popular Public Television broadcasts, The History Detectives.

The MAX is the only show to annually feature the displays, exhibits and merchandise of the top dealers in the world. In addition to the multiple table presentments of the MAX principals, LTC (Ret) Thomas M. Johnson and Thomas T. Wittmann, the collector will be awed by the outstanding artifacts available from respected international dealers such as, Wolfe & Hardin, Brian Maederer, Jason Burmeister, Bill Shea, Gerhard Windbehl, Joe Pankowski, Gerard Stezelberger, Helmut Weitze, Andreas Thies, Hermann Historica, Malcolm Fisher, Craig Gottlieb, Wayne Techet, Matt Calderone, John Ginader, Ron Burkey, Chuck Scaglione, Andy Legere, Tony Jessen, Paul Hogle, John Gallia, John Casino, Kris Anderson, Reto Kleinpeter, Serge Masché, George Notarpole, George Robinson, Manion’s, Walter Dudgeon, Ron Wolin, Larry & Terri Stewart, Ron Weinand, Ralph Shattuck., Robert Procaccini, Terry Patton, Houston Coates, Bill Shea, Jefferson Shrader and Don Boyle to name only a few that come to mind. Each year there are many millions of dollars worth of prime collectible militaria available. No other show in the world commands this caliber of dealers and Militaria. The MAX is the best show of its kind in the world.


We have been contacted by the Japanese Public Television network, NHK, as they would like to attend the MAX Show with a production and camera crew. NHK is the largest public TV network in the world, and the most prestigious in Japan, being the Japanese equivalent of PBS and BBC.

The documentary called, “Close up today”, is one of the critically acclaimed news programs produced by this network. The team covering the MAX is focusing on the stories behind WWII Japanese soldiers’ memorabilia. The Japanese are fascinated with the current popularity of the war memorabilia and are anxious to share the quantities and quality of these relics still remaining in America.

MAX is honored to have NHK at the show and we hope that our dealers and collectors will share their artifacts and stories with the interviewers and camera people. This is a fine opportunity for the MAX to receive excellent international attention and acclaim in the Far East.

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This year the MAX seminar program presents an “Evening with Frederick Stephens”. Mr. Stephens, an experienced British author and well known 3rd Reich daggers expert, will be on the “grid iron” this year for the MAX seminar presentation. Fred says he is ready to speak on varied topics and answer attendee’s questions.

In recent years, Mr. Stephens’ militaria related statements are not without controversy, as recently he has been speaking out against the authenticity of several well known, accepted dagger types. These views are extremely unpopular with the collecting community. This is a great time to attend the seminar and express your personal observations and experiences, and give Mr. Stephens’ a sound verbal challenge!

The MAX Show annual program has grown to become a collectible, yearly souvenir. The program is easily the best show example representing the height of sophistication for such a publication. And, this year for the first time, the MAX Show program will feature 100% color pages. Normally, the show program numbers at least 200 pages. It beautifully presents masses of interesting, captioned photographs taken by several professionally par photographers including Andrew Jurzak, Jane McDaniels, Margaret Weinand, Tom Wittmann, Jr., and Tom Johnson.

In addition to the hundreds of all-color photos of attendees, dealers and collectibles found at the previous show, the program contains lists of MAX Life and Charter members, the names of Certified experts that make up the Certified Dealer Program, seminars held the previous year and upcoming presentments, a table map with names and addresses of attending dealers, articles of interest about collectors, biographies of staff members, and scores of valuable and relevant advertisements. Since MAX Programs are generally retained for many years in collector’s libraries, an ad placement will normally result in current business in addition to business to come for many years into the future. There is no better way to spend advertising dollars.


All participating dealers at the MAX sign a contract and agree to refund the purchase price of any artifact deemed non authentic, as long as the item is returned prior to the ending of the show. There are no other shows in the United States, England or Germany where this refund policy is in force. In addition, if a purchase is made from a MAX Certified Dealer, there is no expiration date for the guarantee.

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Obviously, this policy should give new collectors and the uninitiated a confidence not available in other market places. The purchaser literally has from Thursday during set-up day until Saturday at 5:00 P.M. closing to ask around about his purchase. So, come to the MAX – the only place to buy with a money-back guarantee.

As is my custom when submitting one of these articles promoting the MAX Show, I like to talk about some of the things which may be currently on the minds of collectors and dealers.

During the past several months the MAX has been under pressure to hear a complaint against a prominent dealer who is a member of the MAX Certified Dealer program. The complaint does not involve the refunding of money – there are no instances where the dealer has not conformed to this aspect of the Certified Dealer plan. Further, the subject of the complaint did not occur at the MAX Show. Rather, breech of ethics claim is being made by a third party not directly involved with the alleged breech.

The questions posed here are interesting to most in the collecting community and therefore deserve thought and reflection. Has there ever been an “ethics code” established in our hobby? MAX has never hesitated to react when a dealer would not refund funds when an item was deemed a reproduction.

However, it is not MAX’s obligation to set an ethics code for the entire hobby. The hobby is much bigger than just MAX. It encompasses other dealers and collectors, Internet web sites and forums, other militaria shows and clubs, books and published media. Therefore, everyone should have their input on the subject. Perhaps, there should be a joint effort by members of the collecting community working with MAX to establish an ethics code? Once this is accomplished, MAX can act on possible code violations with the authority to do so.

Since most of us are very passionate about our hobby, I do not doubt that there will be many views on this subject. This is one of the reasons why it is so important for collectors to attend the MAX show as it provides a gathering place for the exchange of ideas.

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