FOR COLLECTORS OF war memorabilia, the wars have never really ended. Collectors scour the internet, traditional auctions and antique markets battling to find and secure highly prized militaria and relics for their collections. And like any sought after commodity, militaria has investment potential. Here are our top 5 picks of collectables to invest in for 2012.
There are obvious factors that influence the investment potential of a military collectible. While condition is very important, the conflict itself is more crucial. Some wars are more popular to historians and collectors than others. Right now, there are tens of thousands of WWII items listed for sale on the internet, yet relatively few Korean War items. The reason for this is simple. WWII militaria has been, and will probably continue to be in more demand than Korean War militaria and the rising value of WWII collectibles clearly reflects this. Curiously once low priced and overlooked WWII items are now fetching considerable prices today, prices previously reserved only for the finest ancient arms and armour available only through top end auction houses. Pick the right collectable and a 5-10% return does not seem unrealistic.
But like any investment, militaria investment has its risks – of course prices go down as well as up. Knowing the categories of militaria that will continue to be an investment requires experience, knowledge, and common sense. Some people collect solely for investment, while others collect for enjoyment. To balance the risk, you need to do both. If your investment doesn’t pay off, then at least you have the pleasure of owning a piece of history. Here are our tips as to what we will be investing in during 2012.
1) WWII U.S. M-1 helmets
The pace at which the prices of M-1 helmets have risen in the collecting market is surprising. Clearly buoyed by Hollywood movies and tv serialisations, the humble M-1 helmet has come into its own. For years, relegated to the surplus pile at every militaria fair, collectors have discovered the M-1 and as such prices are on the rise. Once considered overpriced at £25, a plain M-1 with fixed chinstrap loops and a Hawley pattern liner can push upwards of £250. Add to that unit insignia and the helmet will go for a premium. Be aware of fakery though, plenty of artists out there adding their touches to plain helmets.
2) Vietnam War Relics
Vietnam veterans are in their 60s and 70s and their children are hitting their 30s and 40s. Most militaria collectors are aged 40-50 years with disposable income. These are prime circumstances to creating a nostalgia-based drive for collecting Vietnam War relics. Most sought after are uniforms and insignia that were worn and/or created “in country” as opposed to “as issued in the U.S.” However, such non-regulation items are relatively easy to fake, so inexperienced collectors should take great care before buying. As ever buying from a trusted seller, and researching your subject is key to acquiring an original rather than a modern imitation. Don’t forget the militaria collector’s mantra – buyer beware.
3) WWII Militaria Groupings
Like many WWII relics, groupings of uniforms, medals and personal artifacts such as photos, letters and dogtags have in the past been overlooked. But with a strong sense of nostalgia around WWII and the numbers of veterans getting smaller, groupings of artifacts capturing an individuals contribution and military career are increasing in price significantly. And if the individual served with a combat unit or an elite regiment, then expect the grouping to command a high price.
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4) WWII German Daggers and Swords
During the 1930s, those who watched newsreels of Germany’s rise to power identified a few key symbols of the German war machine: their distinctive helmets, jackboots and the prevalence of daggers and swords. Naturally both during and after the fighting, these items became the most sought-after trophies. Collectors then and today, embraced the variety of daggers and swords, quickly identifying rarity and relative value. A resurgence in dagger and swords is occurring as many veterans pass away, leaving their war souvenirs for the next generation to enjoy.
5) Gulf War Memorabilia
It wasn’t that long ago and many of those affected by the conflicts are still living with the consequences of the conflicts. But a surprise to many in the collecting business, there has been a lot of attention on relics from both Gulf wars. Collectors are showing interest in anything with a strong Gulf War connection, be it uniforms, headgear, insignia or battlefield trophies. Prices are low and availability is plentiful making this a potentially strong market for the future.
So now you know our top five recommended militaria investments for 2012, where do you head next? Visit our Browse section, and see what militaria collectables you can uncover WARSTUFF.com
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