We collectors love anniversaries, milestone years — and holidays like Memorial Day. From collecting postcards of the era to everyday items of those times … we are there! The last 10 years have seen a big increase in the collecting of militaria and war relics. That is probably a little bit because of the recent 100th anniversary of World War I (1914-1918) and the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Movies like Saving Private Ryan also stir interest in war collectibles.
We have found that the most popular collectibles are uniforms, helmets, flags, belt buckles and medals. A collector may only be interested in items from certain countries, like the U.S, Germany or Japan, as well as Great Britain, Russia or France. Be careful when collecting. Check your local and national laws regarding buying or selling antique weapons and anything related to hate groups, such as Nazis. There are rules!
Unlike the Fourth of July, a day of celebration, Memorial Day is a day for mourning U.S. military personnel who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. It is observed on the last Monday of May. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.
Here are 5 military collectibles from a recent auction. They have some incredible prices attached to them. So don’t throw away Grandpa’s box of old war stuff that’s been sitting the attic gathering dust. Look it over, and check with experts to see if it is worth anything!
Pictures are courtesy of Morphy Auctions.
American flag, 17 stars and 17 stripes, hand sewn with a narrow fabric sleeve on the hoist for a rope, 1804, 69 x 88 inches, $46,740. From the family of Stephen Decatur who was killed in an August 3, 1804, U.S. attack on ships in Tripoli harbor. Only one other flag with 17 stars and 17 stripes is known to exist that was made about the time of the admission of the 17th state, Ohio, in 1804.
Medal from the Society of Colonial Wars, 22 karat gold, c.1900, $4,182. The Society of Colonial Wars is a hereditary society of men who have ancestors who, in military, naval or civil positions of responsibility, helped in the establishment, defense and preservation of the American colonies of Great Britain. The organization was founded in New York in 1892, originally as a state society; the General Society was founded in 1893.
French and Indian War powder horn, drawn by Rufus Grider, Lititz, Penn., November 3, 1887, pictures 2 men fencing, 3 glass containers on a table in a tavern, a man tying a horse onto a tavern sign depicting a half moon, a fortification, an urn with branches, a flag, birds and a fish. Inscribed “… John Deen / His Horn / 1758,” 12 in., $9,225. John Deen had an extensive military record, enlisting in 1755 and serving through the French and Indian War. The Half Moon Tavern shown on this horn was located on the Hudson River, north of Troy, N.Y., in colonial days and was named after Henry Hudson’s ship, the Half Moon, in which he first sailed up the Hudson River.
Revolutionary War belt plate, 4th Battalion, Royal Artillery. Brass, engraved with a crown over a cannon and its implements, “G III” and “R” for King George III, and the number “4” with stacks of cannonballs over “Royal Artillery,” $23,370. The 4th Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Artillery was ordered to America in 1773 and served on the Atlantic Seaboard for all of the Revolutionary War.
Lot of 2 Revolutionary War buttons, 1) pewter button, inscribed “9R / 1777,” loop on back, 15/16 in.; 2) button from a Royal Americans regimental coat, relief crown at the top, center has had markings that were intentionally removed during the period, bottom with “AMERICAN” in relief, 7/8 in., $461 for the lot. The 60th, or Royal American, Regiment of Foot is better known under its later name, The King’s Royal Rifle Corps. It was raised in 1755 as 4 battalions to be recruited in Germany and from German colonists in North America. Recruiting for the Royal Americans in North America was disappointing, and more than half its strength was drafted from men rejected by British regiments in Ireland. From this unlikely collection of foreigners and cast-offs came one of the most renowned corps of the British Army.
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