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We Collectors

As collectors we tend to seek out and maintain contact with other collectors. Eventually this collector centric circle becomes our virtual world and sooner or later we all need a reality check. Mine came last week when our small central Wisconsin village held it’s annual village wide rummage sale. My wife, who loves to play store, sets up her sale in our garage every year. The setting up process starts over one month before the sale date and when she is finished we have a well organized mini-department store in our nearly filled to the bursting point garage. Everything is sorted by category, clearly priced and strategically placed to maximize sales. Even I get to put up two small revolving cases with medals and badges plus a few books. This year the two day event had a record number of people milling the streets looking for bargains in our stressed economy. We had about 500 people visit our little garage alone by my estimate and very few showed any interest in my cases at all. A few women and male veterans looked to see if grand pa’s or their medals and patches where there. Two people were trying to figure out what their relative might have had and one veteran was wondering if or how he could assemble a collection of what he had while in the service. I offered to help them find out if they would get back to me in the future but few ever do. Some were surprised that I or anyone could or would collect this sort of stuff. Most people only took a quick look to see what was in the cases and then moved on looking for something more interesting. Young boys circa ten years old were the most serious lookers and one of them bought the only medal I sold during the two day event; a generic gulf war service medal which I described to him as privately made and not a government issue medal. His father, who I assume was a Gulf War veteran watched with a smile. This whole experience reminded me that as collectors we are only a tiny fraction of one percent of the entire population. How ever in spite of our small number, we are disproportionately powerful in our ability to influence public opinion for better or worse regarding the collecting of military medals and historical items.