Like most dealers, I started out as a collector. Over the years I collected all kinds of military and household antiques, starting with a few Civil War and WWII items over 30 years ago. Many of these pieces I still have in my collection.
One of my passions has always been European edged weapons of the Renaissance and Medieval periods, but in my early days of collecting these were nearly always well beyond my means. When I finally did jump into that market I could only afford to buy 2 or 3 pieces a year. My collection grew very slowly and I often found myself buying lesser pieces or getting out of my field completely because I lacked the means to purchase the pieces I really wanted.
While for years I had never wanted to sell anything from my collection, I eventually gave in to the advice of other collector friends who told me that the best way to improve your personal collection is to periodically sell and trade. How right they were! Within a short time I found the quality of my collection had improved dramatically and I soon owned pieces I never could have afforded had I not sold or traded lesser ones. I would give this same advice to any other collector.
One aspect of collecting which makes our expensive hobby more practical is the fact that the market value of most military antiques has risen substantially over the years, making it a good investment as well. In fact, many pieces have increased in value far beyond the stock market and other traditional investments. Many pieces I sold just a year or two ago I find myself wishing I had back because I can’t replace them for anything close to what I sold them for. Unlike collectibles such as Beanie Babies, military antiques have been collected for centuries and, despite short term market fluctuations, have always risen in value over the long run. However, while this fact makes it easier to justify many of our purchases, the best reason to collect is for the pure enjoyment of it. When contemplating a big purchase because of limited funds, I have always been able to look back and remember that there were far more pieces I should have bought and didn’t, than ones I bought and shouldn’t have.