The hobby of collecting military artifacts is perhaps one of the oldest areas of collecting and today is big business worldwide. It is also a hobby that I have seen destroy marriages. This hobby can become costly, both on how much you spend on artifacts and how much you spend to store those artifacts. Being a collector of militaria for over forty years and still being very happily married after twenty years, here is a short three-rule survival guide for collecting militaria and not losing half of that collection in a divorce.
Rule number one: Remember that collecting is an investment with a historic return of about 18 percent per year. Example, when I was in high school a World War Two German helmet sold for around $50.00 to $100.00, today the average cost is $450.00 to well over $1,000.00 with relic condition shells normally starting for about $250.00. If you approach this hobby from the idea you are investing for your future and the items sold later, then ask your self how long will it take to make a good return on this investment? I always ask myself, if I buy this today, can I double my money tomorrow if I have to sell it in an emergency? If not, how long until I can sell it to double my money?
Rule number two: Your wife might not like your hobby but if she sees it as an investment that can and will increase in value over time she is more likely to accept it. I do not keep how much I spend on adding items to my collection from my wife. If I need to violate rule one, I seek my wife’s advice before I make the purchase. I also keep records on the collection to include what I paid, when it was added to the collection and what it is worth if I die and it need to be sold. Every item has an inventory number and my wife can assess the database to see what it is worth in the event I die and she needs to make decisions on what to do.
Rule number three: You can’t take it with you, one day it will be sold. Understanding rule three is why I keep good records on the collection so my family can make good financial decisions and maximize the profits after I have left the picture. It is also why I talk to my wife about what to do if (when) that day comes and how to maximize the collection. I also explain what is most valuable to me like items that were mine from my service or the service of a family member that should stay in the family because it is part of our kid’s history.
Over twenty years, I will let you know that my hobby has evolved from something that was excepted as mine alone as it was in my area of the house, out of her sight, to something that my wife Susan does with me and takes an active part in and has become part of our quality time together hunting for new items at the local flea market. Today, my hobby has become a quality part of my married life and not a source of conflict in that life because it is approached as the same as making an investment in stocks or an I.R.A.