Why should I sell to a collector?

The private collector is usually buying because of his love of history, the objects themselves and is therefore willing to spend his own funds to indulge this passion. Also you have the peace of mind of being paid immediately.

Can't I donate my things to a museum, where they will be on display forever with my name on?

Museums and Historical Societies often have tens of thousands of items to be stored, taken care of and inventoried. Only a very small fraction of their collections will ever be out on display for the public to see. Remember the final scene at the end of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" where the Ark of the Covenant is shuttled into an endless government warehouse? Many institutions are understaffed and frankly, militaria is of little interest when compared to furniture, silver and other more prestigious "politically correct" antiques. WWII German and Japanese items are particularly considered too "offensive" for most museums to even place on exhibit.

Do museums ever dispose of items from their collections?

Donating something to a museum with the belief that it will be preserved there for all eternity has proven for many to be a rude shock. Major museums (even the Smithsonian!) have sold huge amounts of unwanted items, duplicates and lovingly donated things that no longer interest them. This is done for fund raising for renovations, to make space and to purchase other objects, or pay for daily operations. If the curator likes American silver, all the military and weapons might be sold to fund the purchase of that Revere teapot! Museums frequently redefine their mission and readjust their collections to reflect new interests.

Could I sell it to a museum?

Even if they want what you have, museums rarely have funding for purchases, and it can take years of meetings for them to even decide or actually pay.

What about placing my things at an auction?

Auctions are sometimes a good way to dispose of items, but are always risky as things might sell very cheaply. Bargains are found at auctions all the time! It can also involve months of waiting until your items are auctioned (while out of your possession), and weeks or months until you actually receive payment after the sale. There is also no guarantee interested collectors will even know about your objects if the auction house does not properly promote them. Ebay will not allow any Nazi related items or firearms of any type even antiques. It also takes a good deal of time and experience to properly photograph, scan and create the listing for each item. There are also major risks for the unwary to be duped by bidders.

I'm a WW2 Veteran - shouldn't I give my mementos to my children?

Absolutely, if they have a genuine interest. However, should you feel they will just sell anyway, or dividing it up will cause a family squabble, you might be wiser to sell yourself and gift them the proceeds. If your family has no interest, sell now rather then leaving your wife the burden of trying to sell after you are gone and dealing with probate court, heirs, etc. Besides, Don likes to hear and record the veteran's first hand untold stories that go with the relics. It's part of preserving our history.

Should I clean my items up?

Please do nothing, I've seen so many wonderful things ruined by well intentioned cleaning or repair work.

Can you travel to see my items?

I'm happy to if the material warrants a trip, and you're genuinely prepared to make a deal on the spot if we mutually agree on a price. Of course, you are under positively no obligation to sell me anything if you decide not to. If a family conference is required please have that before my visit and designate one person to act as decision maker for all.

What are the most valuable things?

They are often not what folks call about in the first place. To a non-collector, a glistening ( but all too commonplace) dagger may look like a pretty valuable item, but in reality it's the dirty pair of boots that could be the goodie. It's crucial to let me review EVERYTHING, leaving out nothing, no matter how small or trivial it appears. Too often I'm told about an item, then if the caller is informed it's not of much value, they don't bother to mention anything else. "Hey, if he wasn't excited about this swell dagger, no use mentioning the other stuff ". Please never make a judgement on your own which is the significant item, it may be incorrect!

What about an appraisal?

If you are not interested in selling, I do written insurance appraisals for a fee which is based on what is involved. I have done then for major museums, historical societies and private individuals.

Do you keep everything you buy for your own personal collection?

Like any collector, items I buy that don’t interest me as much might be resold or traded to other collectors. Many collections are somewhat fluid, interests change, things are upgraded, duplicates and items are thinned out often to finance new purchases. Sometimes I've had to buy an entire collection or grouping just to acquire the single piece I wanted. I have kept items some items in my collection for over 40 years and some just a day. That's part of the fun of collecting!

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