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Here's a thread everyone can add to. We all got started somewhere with that first helmet, medal, patch, etc. Maybe it was given to us by a veteran uncle or father when we were very young, or perhaps it was later on in life when army-navy surplus stores became our new "candy stores".
This is about our first few items and how we got hooked, and perhaps the journey to today, not an inventory of our present collections.

From my earliest memories, I always had army trucks, tanks, and soldiers, and even that Sears-Roebuck "Army Uniform" (with the Ridgeway cap) from the 1969 Wishbook. But around second grade, my interest really seemed to take off after watching "Castle Keep"; that T-34 tank was the hook. Got the Revell model and put it together. Started looking through the 1962 2-volume "American Heritage WWII" book set. Really liked the German helmets, and begged my parents for either a German or Russian army helmet. No internet back then, so I just kept pestering them, trusting that they would surely know how to get one.

Then, in 4th grade, my Uncle Ted sent a black M-35 (size 64) helmet with still-to-be-applied SS decals from "Unique Imports". PAYDIRT! My Uncle John brought me a WWII G.I. helmet on a visit a few months later. My father's WWII uniform, hat, and ribbons were given to me soon after. By 6th grade, I was earning money mowing lawns, and spent every dime with Unique Imports buying WWII German stuff--even got to visit their old store in Alexandria when I was 13! Interest waned during college, and most everything got sold for gas and beer money:barf::barf::barf:!

Got back into militaria/guns again in my early 30s. Sold nearly that whole collection for an engagement ring a few years later:cry: (but wifey is still worth it even after 12 years!). Started again about three years ago with the mission to replace every piece I've ever had. Some replicas have had to suffice until I can find/afford the real deal. Wifey thinks it's a waste of money, but I'm just trying to keep up with her shoe and purse collection!:) How about your story? By the way, if you can explain "why" you collect militaria, that would be neat, too. My answer is "Why Not?" (maybe it's a guy thing--unexplainable. It just "is").
 

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I got started while I was stationed in Germany, I was at Hahn AFB and if you are familiar with that area the base was just about as in the middle of no where as you can be in Germany. I was helping my landlord an old German WW1 vet who spoke no English in his attic when we came across a WW1 German Helmet. He put the helmet on and started shooting at imaginary “ ROOSKIES” I actually got quite a kick out of this, a few days later he came to my part of the house with the Helmet and left it at my door. I normally dealt with his son a Panzer Commander in WW2 who spoke fluent English. So when rent came due I told him about the helmet that I really appreciated it but did not feel right about taking it. During the course of the conversation I was told that I could go to just about any Farmer around and get stuff from them. So on my days off I started prowling the country side looking for stuff. As my German got better my collecting improved. I took anything that was given to me and bought anything I could afford. When I left Germany I had some 50 odd helmets, several uniforms, and parts of several more, medals, gear and other miscellaneous stuff.

Before any one asks I collected all this stuff when I was 18-19 years old it was fun but I really was not into it I drug this stuff from duty assignment to duty assignment until around 1990 and sold it all to someone who knew a steal when they saw it. Me on the other hand I was a complete, utter moron. I laughed all the way to the Bank with the $750.00 I got for the stuff. Several things I know I had that are worth a small mint now I had a gloss Black double decal helmet, before someone doubts this or tells me gloss helmets do not / did not exist I will tell you I had one so it existed. I also had a coverall and overseas cap given to me by my landlord the Panzer Commander. A beautiful looked like new Luftwaffe helmet the paint and eagle were as nice as the day it was made. If I had known then what I know now my retirement fund would look a lot better.
 

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I always liked watching the old B and W war flicks on TV. and all my uncles had served in the " Big One " I got a type 38 rifle from an uncle who served in Burma when I was about 13. Still got the darn thing as well as hundreds of others that have come and gone since then.
 

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Hello All. My interest in WWII started when I was old enought to listen to my Grandfather's and Great Uncle's stories about their wartime experiences. I could have listened to every story 100 times and never got sick of them. To me they were the stuff of legends. My Grandfather was in the Navy/Pacific. My Great Uncle was in the Army Infantry/ N.Africa, France, Belgium. There were also those darn SGT. ROCK and GI Combat comic books. I still have my collection. As I got older I discovered Surplus Stores. I now have enough WWII stuff to start a small museum! Yet I find myself still looking for more.
 

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Back about 40 years ago, my brother-in-law was a luger collector,, back when you could find a good all matching one for 50 to 75 bucks. He asked me to go with him to a military show in Nashville, Tenn. Having been back from Viet-nam for just a couple of years I decided to go and have a look see... Bought a beautiful 1903 Springfield for $100 bucks and been going as strong as my bankroll ( and sometimes faster) will let me. Now I kinda narrow down to German bayonets and other German edged weapons WW II and before mostly Imperial and Weimar. It's a sickness, guys, and i hope I never get well.
 

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first gun i ever owned was an rg 22 short i bought for $10

when i was 18. next was a jchiggins 22 single shot rifle for $15


later a 5'' smith m&p for $25 followed by numerous $20 milsurps


and the rest is history




FIVESHOT
 

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A Lifetime of Militaria!

Mike,

For those of us of the early "Baby Boom" generation, movies and TV ( showing mainly old movies! ) were probably the greatest influence, as I commented on in a recent thread about the passing of Fess Parker in Gunboards' section Smoke Pole. Like you, my favorite toys for Christmas were always the fabulous millitary-themed "playsets" by Louis Marx from Sears: Ft. Apache, Battle of the Blue and the Gray, Revolutionary War, Davy Crockett at The Alamo, and of course various Battlegrounds and Army Training Centers. Since it had been only a short time since "the War", all the Army-Navy surplus stores had REAL WWII surplus for very little. My parents were in ways BOTH veterans of the Army Air Corps and encouraged my interests; as did my aunt who gave me my very first "history" book, one of the excellent Landmark series, The Battle of Gettysburg. My mother also treated me to the vacation of a lifetime, driving all the way to Pennsylvania and back visiting all the Civil War battlefields in between! The reason was the Centennial and the very first reenactment, that of First Bull Run in 1961 which I at least got to see. Sometime around High School I began to "switch sides" so to speak, and got interested in German militaria for some reason. I think it's simply because, thanks to Hollywood, "they" always LOOKED BETTER! ( After all, that was one of Hitler & Goebbels' big selling points to the German public! ) And who could deny the "cool" projected by actors like James Mason's Rommel or Richard Basehart's SS colonel on Combat! That was also about the time my best friend and I discovered the inventive board wargames by Avalon Hill: Gettysburg, Chancellorsville, Waterloo, Stalingrad, Battle of the Bulge, Bismarck, Guadalcanal, Afrika Korps, etc., etc.

But probably the biggest influence to me as a potential collector was the fact that Dallas, Texas had TWO superlative shops in the mid-to-late 60's: the legendary Jackson Arms and Bob Cowan's Militaria. Like you, I had desperately wanted something - a Civil War SABER! - and my long-suffering mother actually found me one at Jackson's, introducing me thereby to that institution. This was no mere "gun shop", but dealt in the rarest fine guns, antique mostly; and as it's name implies, Militaria was a treasure trove of military miniatures and items from all periods, but especially the Revolution through the Civil War. Thankfully, the owner of Jackson's, an army colonel in WWII, cared little for swords and the other "junk" he found himself selling along with the guns, and priced them accordingly - unless they were Confederate; most of the German paraphanalia in the photo came from there. In case you can't ID them, there are L-R: a likely podium banner I hung on the door to my room; German army officer's sword and knot; Algeimene SS armband ( one of 3 "brought back" by my stepfather, so I KNEW it was "REAL"! ); EKII; M40 SD Luftwaffe; and fireman's bayonet. Sadly, When I got interested in Civil War reenacting in the mid-1970's all the things in the photo went, except the sword, which was stolen in a "smash-n-grab" break-in! As to the WHY of collecting, I'm reminded of a "dialogue" I once read about gun collecting: "Why do you LIKE old guns?" "How is it possible NOT to LIKE old guns?"

As you can see, I always liked to play "dress-up"; consequently reenacting eventually got me into all kinds of situations, experiences, expenses, trouble, and undreamed-of opportunities; stories for another time.
 

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i always played wargames and dressed up as a soldier when i was litle .
on the age of 11 my uncle gave me a k98 bayonet .
i started to read abouth the war and went to fleamarkets... the rest is history !!!
 

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Born in 1947. We used to play army in the mid 50's with our parent's bringback equipment. I had a WWI cammo helmet and full German uniform with medals and badges, first aid kit with syringes, etc. Had a bb gun, gas masks, etc and we swapped and traded. My dad hit the ceiling when I traded my Lionel train set for a box of German badges, including iron crosses, close combat, etc and some US jump boots used in the invasion (not that where they were used mattered to me at that time).
 

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My brother and I delivered news papers in the early 1960's. A WWII vet was cleaning out his garage and gave each of us a helmet; my brother got an m35 German helmet (with the decals painted over) and I got a Japanese helmet with a big shrapnel hole in the side (the coolest one by far). I talked my older brother out of the German helmet, and I still have both of the helmets. As for the vet, he had already disposed of most of his other war souveniers, except for his own helmet I remember seeing it with captains bars hanging in his garage. The man burned a Nazi officer's hat because he did not want to see some kid wearing it around the neighborhood.
 

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Like others here I grew up around the greatest generation, played with their war souvenirs, watched war movies, TV series and documentaries of the time and throughout developed an incredible love of history. I was always encouraged by my parents to love history and research. Though I have to admit my mom did not like firearms or anything with a Japanese or Nazi marking. Got my first K98k as a birtday present from my Dad when I was a sophomore in HS and my first piece of German militaria (a bayonet to go with my 98) not long after. Made a best friend about this time that I still have today who also had/has a passion for history and collecting. I feel pretty darn lucky it worked out this way.

Scott
 
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