Mons’ ‘News & Views’ Page
This page is new to my site, and I intend to use it to ‘address’ issues, news, views and matters appertaining to militaria and militaria collecting as I see them.
It will not be specific to ‘Mons Military Antiques‘, but will ’tackle’ issues that matter to the general militaria collecting world.
I hope viewers / readers find it useful / informative.
Please comment via e-mail is you wish to. I’ll add readers comments to the articles anonymously or accredited, which ever is the writers wish.
The perception of the 'World of Militaria & Militaria Collectors' through the eyes of the UK media
Sunday Broad Sheet Supplement Article of October 2014
By a ‘young’ news ‘reporter’
The reporter visited the Chelmsford Militaria Fair held in September 2014 at the Marconi Social Club, Chelmsford....His remit:- ‘A storey on militaria & militaria collectors’!
I was asked by James, the organiser of the show, if I would be prepared to speak to the newspaper ‘reporter‘....I suggested to James that the reporter was just looking for sensationalism off of the back of an unfortunate earlier (non related to the Chelmsford Militaria Fair) incident, where the police had found it necessary to search a ‘collectors’ house, finding illegal ordnance and items gleaned from battlefields, also illegally. I was assured he was not.
That said, ‘the reporter’ duly introduced himself to me. Still not convinced as to the ‘reporters’ intentions (I felt that the proposed article was to much of a coincidence, so soon after the above mentioned ‘bad news’ incident), I put the question to ‘the reporter‘, directly ‘Are you looking for some sort of ‘spin off’ report in the light of the recent police search in St Albans’ ?....I was fully assured he was not....‘just writing an article on militaria collecting and the people involved in it‘. I also asked ‘have you any experience of militaria and collecting militaria of any description’....he answered ‘he did not’.
I duly answered a few vague, general questions, and after several minutes I asked if he would be interested in reporting on any of the work that the ‘militaria world’ does for military veterans or veterans charities. The answer I received was fairly non-committal.
After a further few minutes discussing said subject matter (‘the reporter’ took no notes at this point in our interview) he decided to move on and seek opinions else where.
That I thought was the end of my input.
He later in the morning, came back to me…..I asked was he ‘happy’ with his research, again a fairly non-committal answer, and no indication of what any other interviewee had related to him.
After asking several more questions about British WW1 items I had on display and more general questions regarding ‘why’ people collect militaria ’the reporter’ decided to bring his research to an end and take his leave.
Just before he left I asked if I could have ‘copy’ of the article he intended to publish in the broad sheet supplement for which he was engaged. I was assured I could.
For this purpose I handed over my contact details.
I never heard from ’the reporter’ again and was never forwarded the copy of the article. I only found the on-line article by accident when doing a test search for Mons Military Antiques.
I was dismayed to find the main title ’ Military Collectors: People think we’re all neo-Nazis and Loonies’, with an image immediately below of the searched garage in St Albans; followed by ’the reporters’ article.
I have read the article several times and fail to see any positives regarding collectors of militaria, or the artefacts that interest them. It would appear that the ‘Broad Sheet’ had only one intention, and that was to tar every one with the one brush connected with militaria, off of the back of the St Albans incident.
‘The reporter’ had no photographer with him on the day of the fair, yet images of a militaria fair (who knows where) were added to the article showing Nazi German related artefacts only....I suppose, this was done to support, and give the article main heading some ‘gravitas‘.
People taking the trouble to read this article might at this point be asking what is the point of it.
My own point and response to it is:- If any one within my own industry (collector or seller) transgresses the law or common sensibility, they deserve the full force of the law applied to them, and or vilification....However I feel it is fundamentally wrong of the media, being in a place of responsibility and wealth to just do as they please, and with a ‘certain style of writing’ categorise every one connected with the militaria collecting world, as people of an ‘irresponsible’ nature.
The opening heading of the article ‘Military Collectors: People think we’re all neo-Nazis and Loonies’ is not a phrase or statement that I personally would ever make / use under any circumstances. If is was said by another trader at the show to ‘the reporter‘, that is their affair and ‘opinion‘, and was said for reasons best know to themselves. It is, I feel just the sort of statement that the media in the context and ‘fall-out’ of the St Albans affair looks for and thrives upon.
If the media chose to take a different point of view, they could run worthwhile news articles on ‘hard working’ people and organisations connected with militaria, that do a great deal of good for the armed forces / servicemen and ex-servicemen and women alike.
Would this type of storey as opposed to the one published sell papers?
Fair mindedness I have always found to be a worth while human trait....Narrow mindedness linked to sensationalism, with the sole aim of selling news papers is in my own opinion as reprehensible as those that are guilty of stupidity or law breaking within any walk of life, fraternity or collective!
If you are at all interested in how the world at large is given to perceive collectors of militaria by certain aspects of the media please do go and visit the net and the article in question, Search ‘Mons Military Antiques‘, you will find it !
Make of it what you will, now that you have other facts on its reporting.
I have not mentioned the broad sheet or the ‘reporter’ by name as its not my wish to give the individual or paper in question any ’free’ publicity.
As a closing personal statement....When searching the article on the net, it appears when first viewed that I made the statement that forms the articles title....this is NOT so ! They are not my sentiments, I have no need to say such a thing....and generally:- I am disgusted that the ’author’, someone who has NO knowledge of the subject matter he pontificates on, can publish such an article with the backing of the popular press....perhaps the paper in question and the ’author’ might better spend their time re-searching terrorism, fraud within the banking industry, working class 21st century poverty and cases of child abuse by members of the UK establishment and those with celebrity status. Surly these are more news worthy subject matters and serve a greater purpose and good in the UK community?
1, E-mail response to this article
From a London based collector and buyer from Mons’
I agree with your article. The media only ever looks for sensationalism. It never takes the point of view of the military collector and any good they might do the current military or ex-servicemen.
I congratulate you on your article !
2, Personal response (to me) from an Essex based collector at Chelmsford militaria fair a year on from the published article.
'I agree with the article on your web pages 100%. I witnessed the reporter gathering his story and over heard some of his lines of questioning.
It was in no way intended to show the world of militaria and collecting military artefacts in a positive light' !
3, E-mail response to this article from a North American collector.
I’ll summarise the e-mail (received over the 2015 UK winter holiday) sent, as it covered many matters some not relevant to this article.
The e-mail was from a US collector who occasionally has bought WW1 related items from Mons Military Antiques.
He stated that:- In the United States they have their own problems related to militaria collecting the most sinister / prevalent being that of fire arms related crimes (not good, I think we can all agree on this)….However he made it most certainly clear that militaria collectors (irrespective of their mode of interest) in the main get a good press in the USA with many related collector societies and indeed individuals supporting the US military and doing good work for veterans old and modern alike, and actively putting across the relevance of the US military from the War of Independence to modern day conflict.
In short the collecting of militaria and its associations with the US military and modern day life is, if not universally supported, then at the very least is welcomed by much of American society !
Veterans donating items to Museums !
The sale or donation of items of kit, medals, uniform & photographs etc. to museums by veterans is the cause of some consternation to me.
I’m a firm believe that a military souvenirs right full place is within a ‘family unit’ or at the very least, be kept be a person that has a connection with the winner / owner of such items. Sadly not all are of the same opinion and such souvenirs are regularly sold into the collecting world once ’the family’ has no interest or use for them, or as is happening more and more items are being donated to museums.
If a family has absolutely no interest in an item of a family members military past I have to concede that the disposal onto a collector is the second best option; at least the collector has interest and will be the custodian of it and look after it in the spirit of its original ’use’.
However I hear on my travels that increasingly family members are approaching museums and donating items into their ’collections’ in the misguided notion that they will be kept and valued in perpetuity.
I think that a donor should be aware firstly as to what the establishment that they are donating to actually is.
National museums are state owned and in many cases have the best of the best in terms of items of long term and National interest.
Local, municipally run museums are local authority owned and tend to want to take in and display items of local interest….and rightly so….Then there is the privately owned museum….this is the ’grey’ area for me in terms of donations.
A word of advice to those possibly considering donating an item to a museum.
If it’s a National or local municipally owned museum first ask if they are interested in the item(s) rather than just sending them. If they are interested then ask if they would intend to keep the item and use for display or at the very least archive them. Get in writing, a statement to the effect that they do not intend to sell or dispose of the item and should they do so it must be offered back to the donator or donators family free of charge.
Now, privately owned museums are effectively ‘private collections’ and do not have official museum status with a aboard of governors overseeing activity. Artefacts can be bought and sold at the owners whim and a donated item may well be used just as ‘currency’ i.e. an item that has a monetary value and could be disposed of at any time.
I assume that any one donating to a museum is doing so to find a worth while repository for a family air loom.
I’m not suggesting that any of the above organisations are not worthy of a donation, I merely suggest that the owner makes sure that their item is going to the correct place and will be treated with the respect that they would want for it.
I have encountered a WWII RAF veteran who considered donating to a ‘museum’ that was in effect a glorified shop with every thing in it for sale....it is this type of incident that ‘offends the sensitivities’.
Other people my have different views from my self. In the end of the day a family owing an item has the right to do what ever they wish to with it.
For me each item has a storey and if it can be kept within a family, all to the good.
If its sold, I hope a collector will ultimately value it.
If its donated to an institution I hope its kept in the spirit to which it was given !
As a foot note I must add....I know of many privately run museums in the UK and abroad that do a superb job in telling ‘their story’, and are well run. But like all things in life, their is good and bad !
Militaria Internet Forums
Right, now for me what is the nutty subject of Militaria Internet Forums:-
I’ll put down some of my feelings, opinions and observations; some may offend, this however is not my intention.
As ever I welcome counter views or those that just might agree with my own take on what should be a modern wonder.
For those that know me personally, they will be aware that I’m not the biggest fan of internet forums; not for any reason that they might find my own website or sales disagreeable, no not at all. I generally dislike or should I say disapprove, because what could have been such a wonderful exchange of information has it would seem, been ‘hi-jacked’ by those that wish to make pseudonyms for themselves or those that wish to place themselves at the pinnacle of ‘their’ subject matter, being the font of all knowledge.
Not being a member of any discussion group or following any one given forum I have spent an equal number of hours studying at random, four sites and the threads that were currently viewable as well as archived.
I wont name the forums I studied. The four in question cover 20th century militaria, British badges, medals and Third Reich related items.
I have to say at this point that I did encounter some positive useful information from all the sites related to collecting their respected materials (so this has to be a good thing). That said the use-full information covered at best only 25% - 35% of the time I spent studying any one given type of site, falling to less than 5% of the time studied on the Third Reich site.
The most common thread I found was from various collectors who had obviously just made a purchase from one source or another and immediately placed their new item on forum display with the general ask ’what do members think of this’?.
From ‘this’ question I could not determine if any one given owner was looking for new information on their item, looking for reassurance as to its originality or in the best interests of the hobby just placing an item up for view to stimulate discussion.
Responses ranged from the positive in terms of what the item actually was, too condemnation of said item and its source of acquisition.
No academic information was offered of any kind as to any of the threads I followed. (No doubt there is, I make the point that in the time I spent on any one given forum no know accepted fact was put forward). As a dealer I would never be so bold as to pass opinion on an item that I’ve not even handled, even if from an image it is glaringly obvious that it’s a fake / reproduction, yet opinions are freely bandied about by site member with the most ‘peculiar member names’.
A favourite subject matter on the Third Reich forum was for site members to condemn listed items out of hand and to voice their displeasure at dealers selling or specialising in such material, even to the point of criticizing a sellers terms and conditions….Surely it’s any sellers fundamental right to state his / her own terms of business ?
As for the question, which I encountered more than once ’is it original’ or ‘what do you thing of its originality’, came long threads of discussion going back and forth with no definitive outcome reached and only opinions put forward !
‘The question of originality‘….I was helped with this as a 13 year old collector by sadly a dealer that’s no longer with us. In discussing originality with him, he simply said that ‘if you have to ask yourself the question, ‘is it original?‘, for what ever reason….every time you should walk away from the item irrespective of any other opinion or point of view, and keep your money in your pocket ‘!….I’ve found this to be sound advice and its served me well for over 40 years.
Regarding research, do people no longer read known and accepted reference works, go out and view items at museums and fairs, handle items at shows. Do they now only rely on a forum members opinion, somebody that they probably don’t know, and know even less about his / her ability to pass judgment on an item.
Staying at home behind a computer screen is in my opinion dangerous in terms of educating one self. It should be done in a balanced manner, with practical ’field work’ being a greater percentage of ones education.
I’m fully aware that forums are now an integral part of the collecting world for better or worse. Their will always be spoilers, but surly people spending valuable time on a forum should take away positive, informative information, for any given amount of time spent on them; rather than taking on board what appears to be in many cases ’soap opera gossip’ points of view, and or ’information’.
I have friends and customers alike that regularly interact with the forums nearest to their subject matter, they find them useful, in some cases informative but above all a form of ‘entertainment’.
For me not being a child of 20th century technology I’ll continue to live without them, and do the leg and mind work that’s served me well ‘till now.
To those that use forums for the common good in perpetuating our hobby, and the information that is so valuable within it, you have my best wishes, thanks and gratitude !
Response to this post:-
I’ve been approached at a couple of shows and discussed with site viewers their counter views to this post....This I expected and accept....and its good that people have opinions !
Interestingly, in the constructive discussions we had on the subject of forums, both (of their own volition) agreed / stated that their was now to much ‘tosh’ and ’falsehoods’ on them, and this is now becoming a chore to sort through....This was my point !
Good information is useful to all…Rubbish is rubbish !
Received e-mail regarding Third Reich collector forums:-
I have received a very eloquent e-mail regarding Third Reich collectables and its discussion on their own forums.
The writer stated that he agreed that their was much miss-information and ‘one up-manship’ on his own forums of choice….The very interesting and pertinent counter point made in favour of ‘his forums’, was that he had managed over a period of time to glean good useful, and in some cases money saving information from posts made and shared with ‘established’ collectors….The sharing of information with those that have an academic approach to their collecting was in his opinion invaluable.
This I have to agree with ! What ever our own field of interest the sharing of good, honest factual information is invaluable….The detritus amongst it on forums is in my opinion at best useless at worst dangerous.
Articles to Come
Buying and Selling at Auction (to include buying via a well known internet auction) and Militaria as an Investment!
THIRD REICH RELATED COLLECTABLES
This article is prompted by the national media story of reproduction Third Reich items being offered for sale at a school fund-raiser day !
It would seem that the subject of Third Reich related collectables are never far from the medias gaze and vilification.
(I should make quite clear that I am far from a Third Reich militaria specialist, only selling the few items that seem to make their way to me, rather than actively seeking out such stock items).
'The media' always seizes upon the sale of such items as a call to action, to make copy and sell papers off of the back of this easy target.
The Third Reich is I believe in most right minded thinking individuals minds a dark 'stain' on that of mankind....It however happened, its part of history and as such the remnants of it, like many things appeal to the collector in man.
Sadly the sale of cheap reproduction Third Reich related items produced in India, Pakistan and China etc. have reached a certain type of (if you will excuse me....idiot) buyer, that have no academic interest in the items, and do not collect said items for their historic value, rather more for what they represented at their time of use.
Many items from this period in time are now rare due to the mass destruction of Nazi related material in the immediate post war years and the de-Nazification of Germany.
Like all things that have acquired a scarcity they now have a collector value, both historically and monetarily. Any seller of such items of any worth, will sell such an item as a moment in time....not an ideology.
I have to say and agree that the sale of such items should be confined to specialist events, sales and sales outlets and should not appear on the high street in jumble sales, school fund raising sales and their like.
To try to condemn / label all collectors of such original items as latter day Nazi's or Nazi supporters is I feel insulting and a distortion of a reality.
Just because a moment in history is distasteful it cannot and must not be swept under the carpet....academic collecting (of any artefact in history) is of value to our collective future and as such our understanding of the past.