I do the vast majority of my collecting either via the Internet or at shows. It is rare anymore that I make “collector-to-collector” deals. But, every once in a while, a collector approaches me with a pretty cool AEF Tank Corps item or WWII 10th Mountain Division piece with the idea I would like to add it to my collection.
After determining if I want the item, naturally the question is, “How much?” At shows this isn’t a problem—if the item is priced, I decide if I want to buy it. If it isn’t priced, I walk away (I don’t play that dealer game anymore!). With online purchases, it is never a problem. I either bid what I am willing to pay, or I buy it outright, depending on what sort of sale venue is offering the piece. However, I was reminded the other day, what collector-to-collector deals can be like...especially if the other guy is an “old-timer!”
After being shown a nice Model 1917 with a Tank Corps insignia painted on the camouflaged surface, I asked, “How much?” The response was, “Whattya got to trade?”
Pardon me? What are you, six years old?
I said, “I have a pocket full of cash. How much of it do you want to “trade” for the helmet?” But no, this person wanted me to either dig into my collection and pull out an item, or become his personal shopper, buying items in the hope that he would want to “trade” his helmet for them (and if he didn’t, I would simply be stuck with the item).
Come on. “Trade?” That is a real “old-school” approach to collecting. It smacks of swapping marbles on the playground. Want to trade? Here is my trade offer: I give you cash, you give me the item. You use the cash to go buy whatever you want. Everyone is happy.
On a happier note...
I didn’t get the helmet, but things seem to happen for a reason. This week, I was able—after many years—to purchase an original “Treat ‘em Rough” recruiting poster. WWI fans will recognize this as the iconic symbol of the AEF Tank Corps. Glad I had plenty of cash to “trade” for it!
Right after that deal was consummated, I ran into an identified Tanker’s uniform complete with gas mask and leather jerkin. Again, the fellow who offered it, wanted to trade—for a small bushel basket full of Benjamin Franklin portraits (just those found on $100 bills). The “trade terms” were acceptable to both parties and the deal was made.
Looks like 2009 is going to be a good book year!
I am fortunate to live close to a fairly prominent militaria dealer, so between his library and the books that are sent to me, I am blessed with seeing a lot of the newest releases. Two have really caught my eye this year.
Many of you are familiar with Government Issue Collector’s Guide by Henri-Paul Enjames. Well, I was sitting out at Advance Guard Militaria when an advance copy of Volume 2 arrived in the mail. My GOSH! It is just as good as the first volume except that it contains about twice as many artifacts in the same high-quality photographs with accurate and informative captions. The copy was just the vanguard of the direct shipment that arrived later in the week. Advance Guard is offering them cheaper than anywhere else I have seen—$45 a copy.
The other book that has me excited is Deutsche Soldaten: Uniforms, Equipment & Personal Items of the German Soldier 1939-45, by Agustín Sáiz. This volume is going to do for German WWII militaria what GI Collector’s Guide did for US WWII. Done in a similar format, the book shows a myriad of gear, uniforms, weapons and personal items used by the typical German combat soldier. Published by Casemate, the book carries a $55 price tag, but again (in what I am seeing as a trend to buck the Amazon-dominance book pyramid), Advance Guard is blowing out there allotment at $35 copies. Advance Guard’s ad is on the inside back cover of the February issue of MT (at the press as you read this) or check them out at http://www.AdvanceGuardMilitaria.com
(Some folks might get sore that I am hyping one dealer, but I am collector at heart—if I find a righteous good deal on books, I am going to let my buddies know about it! If you have a sale...and I mean a real sale—that is, as good or better prices than on Amazon, let me know. I really want to keep the small book dealers in business. They are our best source for the obscure titles that Amazon will never touch. Have a deal that collectors will love? Let me know! Better yet, do like Advance Guard did and take out a full-page ad in Military Trader.)
SPEAKING OF GOOD PLACES TO BUY...
In my late-night online searches for interesting militaria deals, I stumbled into a pretty cool source right in my own “back yard!” Did you know that the Military Trader/Military Vehicles web site has “Dealer Storefronts”. I didn’t!
Several dealers have put together an “online” mall of businesses. You really should go peruse the “aisles”. The Ruptured Duck, War-Toys, and Government Liquidation all have storefronts. Like any good antique shop, though, these storefronts aren’t the easiest to find. Look down the left center of the opening page under the “Classifieds” banner. You will see the storefronts there. Or, simply click this link to go directly to the “militaria district”
Well, that’s about all ol’ JAG has to say this week. I am on “the move” again, but just down the street. Office was getting to full of uniforms!
Remember, the Show of Shows is just a little over a month away. Start shaking the piggy bank!
Keep finding the good stuff,
— John Adams-Graf
Military Trader and
Military Vehicles Magazine