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What about my medals?


Most collectors know what is going to happen to their medal collections after or even before they die. Most will have the collection sold and they will rest easy knowing that the medals are being well cared for by other collectors. Some collectors and veterans will toy with the idea of donating their medals to a museum of some sort. As I have said many times before most museums are not too thrilled with donated medals and coins though few will refuse to accept them. A little over a week ago I was traveling through Southeastern Wisconsin and visited three fine museums. All were really nice and had good dedicated staffs but one really proved my point. The museum had an extensive local history of WWII exhibit including uniforms worn by local vets along with their recorded voices telling of their war time experiences. In the far back corner was a locked display cabinet with a glass shelf upon which a small hoard of medals pins and insignia were scattered about willy-nilly with many items upside down or sideways and absolutely nothing attributed. I tracked down the lady in charge and asked her if she would like to know what the items were? “No” she said , “I know what they are.” Then why isn’t any of it labeled? I asked her. “Labels would just distract from the exhibit” she replied. “We just wanted to show what kind of souvenirs the guys brought back” she continued. “Oh” I said, “but what about all the US items?” A slight frown then arose over her face and she shot back “I didn’t really want to bother with that stuff but I couldn’t leave that shelf empty.” Well at that point I figured I had better leave well enough alone. After all if she was responsible for the rest of the museum’s displays she had earned a 90% positive score overall. So I thanked her and said good bye all the while thinking how much I wished that every veteran who thinks that his medals would be better off in a museum could see the exhibit and talk to the boss lady. If you want to see how I think medals should be displayed come to the Iola Vintage Military Show this weekend and take a look at some of my exhibits.

About Fred Borgmann

Retired from KP after nearly 31 years as new issues editor and the Standard Catalogs.
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3 Responses to What about my medals?

  1. sara says:

    This staff member’s disrespect for your interest in a subject matter displayed is appauling alone. It’s big of you to make a positive ending to your story on your sad experience.


  2. Many people assume donating their items to a museum means their treasured collection or family heirlooms will be preserved for eternity and given the respect they deserve. This is not always true. Museums provide a definite benefit to the public, but people don’t realize that once they give these items to a museum – they are no longer the property of the benefactor. At this point, a museum can do with them whatever they wish.
    This includes putting them in a “vault” never again to see the light of day, or selling the items to a third party to assist in operating expenses.

    I believe it is best to keep these items in the collecting community, where their new owner will revere them. In the event the new owner decides to pass them along, they will once again go to someone who also treats them as a treasure.

    Militaria shows are good places to identify and value military items you may have inherited from a family member – and even good places to sell. You may be surprised to find out that Great Grandfather’s medal is worth a good deal more than you have ever imagined, so you don’t want to just give it away.

    If you decide you do want to sell your medal, or other piece of militaria, do some research and find out exactly what it is you have. If you must sell, I encourage you to use our militaria auction website – http://www.manions.com – (or a similar service) where you will receive the highest value through worldwide exposure.

    My sincere hope is that in your research to determine the “price” you can get for this piece of history, you stumble upon its “value” and do not sell it at all. Maybe you will also stumble upon the fascinating and rewarding hobby of collecting militaria.

  3. Fred Borgmann says:

    Thank you Sara and Andrew. I like both of your comments and am glad you are following this blog. Fred

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