I recently read a New York Times article about military collectibles that touched on two interesting subjects.
The article’s focus is that militaria can be an investment. Respected militaria dealer Bill Shea was quoted saying that he’s seen an increase of 5 to 10 percent annually over the last few decades. Bill’s inventory is predominantly Third Reich, and his figure is accurate in my opinion.
With any investment there are risks, and that 5 to 10 percent increase only applies to certain subcategories within this hobby. Knowing the categories that will continue to be an investment requires experience, knowledge, and common sense. Some people collect solely for investment, while others collect for enjoyment. I try to do both.
There are obvious factors that influence the investment potential of a military collectible. While condition is very important, time period is more crucial. The truth is that some wars are more popular to historians and collectors than others. Right now, there are 32,000 WWII items listed on ebay, yet only 1,097 Korean War items. WWII militaria has been, and will probably continue to be in more demand than Korean War militaria. The value of these collectibles clearly reflects this.
If you are interested in collecting militaria for investment, don’t jump into this hobby blind. Watch the market closely and seek advise from collectors with experience that you trust.
Another topic mentioned in the article is the future of militaria collecting. It’s no secret that across the board, the average age for militaria collectors falls in the late 40′s through 50′s. Many young collectors are priced out of this once blue-collar hobby, where certain WWII German helmets worth a few hundred dollars in the 1980′s are fetching several thousand today!
While the future of this hobby remains uncertain, there are still opportunities for investment right now.
Chris Hughes is a WorthPoint Worthologist specializing in 20th century militaria and the owner of Rally Point Militaria and Vietnam Uniform – Military Collectibles sites.