21 January 2019

As we move into another year of trading, and activities speed up, I muse over what really makes a collector. During my younger days of collecting, the diversity of collectibles was enormous, and often quite inexpensive. Over the years what are today elder collectors amassed enormous accumulations, did their research and catalogued what was on offer.

As the years went by, a large amount of research was amassed on individual areas of expertise, and many books written. Today, the offering of military research books exceeds other subject research to an incredible level.

As the scarcer items progressively disappeared, an ever increasing range of fake products began to appear on the market. This was greatly expanded with the advent of reenactors.  With time, the quality of reproductions improved and in some cases became almost impossible to detect against genuine items. Today, it is important to question any item, particularly if it is of a higher price. The gap between lack of knowledge by the supplier, and fraud is a very small one. At the very least, a bad purchase is a lasting lesson.

It is certain that collectors vary in both desires and attitudes to their collections. For the serious collector, it is definite that a number of  approaches are very important. The first piece of advice I have always given to novice collectors is to gather an in depth library, allowing a better understanding of their area of interest. The range of publications is very diverse, and the good books never go our of date, as their area of expertise in generally based on historical details, such as medal rolls, which do not change.

The second piece of information that I consider to be of prime importance, is to purchase only from suppliers who will stand behind the authenticity of their wares. If there is no guarantee, it is highly likely that the supplier has an inadequate knowledge of his subject, and is not in in for his own interest. It may be slightly more expensive but there is the piece of mind factor.

The third piece of advice that I give is to buy the best, as it can become costly to continually update your collection to better quality. Work out what you are interested in, and stick with it. Many collectors diversify their interests as time goes by, and add other areas alongside their core pieces. There are different types of collections. Some collect by quantity, while others like to restrict the size of their collections, but go for the very best in quality.  A single item can tell a very large story.

There are no perfect collectors who know everything. I am proud to know that I learn something new virtually every day.

I will be in the South Island between 23rd January, and 4th February, and will be primarily in the Christchurch, Timaru, Dunedin, Invercargill areas. If any local collectors wish to catch up, please give me a call for either buying or selling

David Oldham


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