December marks a significant shift for me and how I manage my finances. It seems that I go from the frugality-based spending as I slowly fuel my collecting habit to that of a free-spending sailor out on Hotel Street in Honolulu after a lengthy deployment (old-timey jarheads and squids will understand that reference) in search of the perfect gifts for my family. Being a December-baby, I get asked by family members what I’d like for my birthday or Christmas, to which, I seldom have a response. But, this year, I’ve thought about this question while symbolically wearing my “militaria collector hat.”
With all of the articles I’ve written in the previous eleven months, one could ascertain that “shopping” for militaria isn’t as simple as a trip to a big box store, hobby shop or even an antiques store. Militaria collecting requires research and an understanding of the item (and variants) and how a particular piece would fit into the collector’s collection. Simply buying an “old Army” thing for a collector might not shake have the desired results. For this reason, I decided to assemble a list of items that should be somewhat universal for a wider range of collectors who would like to organize and display some of their more prized pieces.
1. UltraPro 4-Pocket (postcard) Pages. For the seriously organized (borderline obsessive-compulsive) patch or shoulder sleeve insignia (SSI) collector, these pages, in concert with large three-ringed binders provide an affordable on-shelf storage system. Package of 100-ct: $17.00.
2. BCW BallQube Helmet Display Holder. Displaying a helmet can be rather difficult due to their odd shape. Collectors might also seek to limit exposure to dust or free-flowing air (both are harmful to the suspension webbing). These acrylic displays would seem to be a great option, especially for collectors seeking to showcase all sides of the helmet. Priced at $40-45 each.
3. Ultra Mount Jersey Display Hanger. For a quick and dirty method of displaying a uniform jacket or shirt, these sports jersey displays appear to be an affordable option providing more aesthetics along with the ability to securely display the piece on a wall or in a large case. This system affords the collector with the option to easily swap out the uniform item to keep the display fresh. The downside with hanging the uniform directly on the wall is that there is no protection from harmful elements (dust, UV, air). Priced at $25 each.
4. Jersey Frame Display Case Shadow Box by Null. Collectors seeking protection from harmful elements (as mentioned above), this shadow box display includes 98% protection from ultraviolet rays while providing a professional presentation of the uniform item. Reasonably priced at $60.00.
5. Ultra Mount Deluxe Acrylic Jersey Display. Fully enclosing the uniform item in acrylic provides a very tasteful display including visual access to all sides of the item. Aside from the price, the one drawback for this display is the lack of UV protection. $260 each.
6. Riker Mount Storage and Display Cases. These brilliant yet, subtle cases come in a wide range of sizes and depths to afford collectors the ability to organize, store and display many pieces of their collection. For metal devices (such as collar and hat insignia) Riker Mounts are preferred by collectors as way to limit handling of those pieces made from precious metals (such as silver or gold) reducing wear or tarnishing. Prices range (depending on size and quantity) from $8-20.
7. Wood-Framed Riker Mounts. In an earlier post, I called attention to these beautifully crafted wooden frames, designed specifically to allow for a handsome wall or tabletop display that incorporates the long-standing collector-go-to Riker Mount. Prices range (depending on size and quantity and type of wood).
8. Display Case Coffee Table. Collectors seeking to showcase a militaria grouping or shine a spotlight on some of their finer pieces might want to consider this functional furniture item, especially if floor space is limited. These coffee tables can be had for $400-1,200, depending upon the size, design and materials used.
9. Detolf Glass-door Cabinet by Ikea. This display cabinet is so widely used that perhaps it is THE go-to unit for a large segment of militaria collectors. Both affordable and compact, this unit makes displaying collections in a museum-like setting, quite easy. Complete with an overhead light to illuminate the contents. Collectors should consider the placement of this case to reduce or eliminate exposure to UV rays as the Detolf cabinet provides no protection. $65.00 at Ikea. Be aware that assembly is required.
10. DisplayGifts.com – Sword Display Case. One of the more challenging collection pieces for displaying is a military sword or sabre. Considerations for safety, security and protection from exposure to deteriorating elements (especially for swords and scabbards constructed with natural materials) should be considered prior to selecting a display method. These display cases are simplistic in design and are quite affordable while offering protection from harmful UV rays. $130 each.