Eagles Recalled, Air Force Wings of Canada, Great Britain and the British Commonwealth, 1913-1945    |   1910-1919 Insignia

On collecting
From the soon to be released publication"1910-1919 Insignia"
Warren Carroll

I really would not like to be a novice collector to-day. The profusion of reproductions to-day is staggering. Most of these are never marked "copy" and it is becoming so widespread that some authors show reproductions in their publications and some museums have them in their displays. The collector will take these as being real and therein lays the confusion.

In writing books on the subject many authors go through a lot of soul searching. They know that not only are they educating the collector or curator with original items but they are giving the forger more ammunition to screw up the market. So there is some information or illustrations we leave out deliberately in the hopes that the forger will leave out a detail that can then be caught. I will not illustrate the backs of items as one can tell more from the backing materials than the front. I know this might frustrate the reader but it is the only way to discourage the reproducers.

It is not a joke when knowledgeable historians and collectors get together and muse on the fact that their items most probably will be deemed copies because they don't look like the junk on the market today. Although the reproductions (also known as "re-pops") abound there are still good opportunities for the collector or museum to obtain real items but research is vital. There some dealers and collectors who sell original material and guarantee it. There are other dealers that will sell anything real or imagined because they do not know or simply do not care. That is what makes it so hard for the novice collector.

There are some great clubs or associations that you should join. Join as many as you can afford. If you are serious about your collection get to know the experts in their fields. Travel to some of the out-of-town shows. What you spend in learning will save you a lot of money in the long run. You won't regret it, because here is where the experts and the major collectors are. Introduce yourself and talk to them, don't forget that they have the same interest. You will be surprised how much you can learn in a short time. They will tell you who the good dealers are, where the reproductions are coming from, who will guarantee their material and who will not.

At the annual shows there are quite a few authors on resource books in attendance. All these guys are fine people and love to talk about their hobby. If you want to know anything, they are the experts. As well, there will be other knowledgeable collectors drifting around that you should meet, just ask and you will find them. Spend money on resource books. I don't say that because I write them. I say that because those books have saved me a lot of grief. No matter who you are one can get caught on a bad buy. I am still embarrassed over several that have happened to me. No matter what the cost is, you will save the price of a good book in less than a year. Remember this, real research brings bargains. Let us face reality, the argument some give of just having a historical collection is more important than the cost. It has to be weighed by the investment one has made in it. There will come a time when you have to get rid of the collection.

Let us not kind ourselves there will come a day, so here are a few suggestions in securing your collection and investment. It never ceases to amaze me that most collectors will take, say, a hundred dollars and buy random items. These are usually the most common things in the collection and owners do it time and time again. The fact of the matter is that if they are the most common, the price, other than an increase in inflation, will probably be much the same in ten or fifteen years from now. There will be some exceptions, such as material becoming obsolete but you will hear about it, and then can act accordingly.

A good collection is not based on quantity but quality. I suggest that it is better to use our fictional hundred dollars to buy a scarce item rather than the common ones that can be picked up at any time. The scare or rare are called "key" items; these are the ones that most collectors are looking for. They will appreciate over the years because there will always be more collectors or museums looking for them. As time goes by, the key ones get rare and rarer. Even if the price appears high at the moment, you can rest assured it will be higher as the years go by. Save your money for the right stuff.

Quality is most important. If you have a piece that is not in good condition but fills an empty place in the collection, search for a better one. Constant upgrading is important for the future. By having a fixed game plan for both your wallet and your collection you will protect yourself for that later date. I suggest that you don't buy reproductions for your collection because when it comes time to get rid of them, they will still be reproductions. They will not sell to the experienced. I have had some people ask me to evaluate their acquisitions. When I have to honestly tell them that some of their material is repro and will not bring even the price they originally paid for it, they get very upset. A couple of people are still not talking to me but it was they who asked.

Junk, no matter what is said, is still junk.