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5 Tips for Collecting During the Pandemic

These tips will help you enjoy your hobby while "social distancing."
John Adams-Graf is the editor of Military Trader and Military Vehicles Magazine

Social distancing? I have been at it  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 Milton in the 1999 classic movie, “Office Space.”

Melvin in the 1999 movie, "Office Space"

Milton in the 1999 movie, "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 sure, as 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 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 subscription to Military Trader. We are still here and will continue to provide you with the information that keeps you engaged, entertained, and informed.

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Sign up for our FREE enewsletter

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:

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

Preserve the Memories, 

John Adams-Graf

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