Pickelhauben and Covid-19

Dear All

I thought I would pick your brain and seek your opinion on the subject of how the current health crisis - which is likely to turn into a severe and long-term worldwide economic downturn - has or might affect the value of our collections. This is a subject which I have already seen on other militaria forums and that I thought could be interesting to debate here too.

Given the significant amount of time and amounts of money we spent on helmets, caps and other WW1 stuff, we cannot reasonably ignore their monetary value for the future to come, whether it is for retirement purposes, for the kids’ inheritance or something else.

Have you noticed a price drop with dealers, auctioneers or even on Ebay for WW1 items? Have you seen the market taking a turn on those items?



Active member
This is a topic that has been discussed on other forums. My take is that some will sell as they need the money, others will buy (militaria in general) and some dealers will be destroyed by this pandemic.

So far I haven't seen price drops. Those who need money are selling, but unlike the "Great Recession of 2008" this hasn't impacted everyone equally. Those in the service industry have been hit hard, but a lot of people haven't been impacted at all. So for everyone selling there could be a buyer.

My life hasn't changed much. My wife and I work from home, we're both busy and April in Michigan is a crappy month generally. I've bought a few things as there has been opportunity.

Steve Nick

A very interesting topic and one that I have an opinion on in general. I doubt that prices will be adversely impacted by Covid which will pass in due course.

I am though, firmly of the belief that within the next 5 to 10 years we will see prices start to drop dramatically which is one of the reasons why I downsized my collection a couple of years ago. I sold off all the items that I considered to be fairly commonplace and (contrary to my instincts) kept those pieces which I think will still be of interest to a greatly reduced marketplace just because of the story behind them.

My thoughts are that within the next 5 to 10 years many of us will be in our 70's or 80's and considering moving into retirement homes or worse still, "shuffling off this mortal coil". Consider what's going to happen when all this "stuff" we've been so fascinated with starts to flood a market which is greatly reduced. I say greatly reduced because the reality is our kids by and the next generation doesn't really have much interest in this stuff. Take a look at all the grey hair at the next Militaria show you attend.

Anyone who has taken Economics 101 knows what happens to prices when there is a surplus of goods combined with few interested buyers. I know a collector who has over 1,000 German 3rd Reich helmets. When those go to auction what is that going to do to prices?

What do you think is going to happen to all those "muscle cars" of the 60's and 70's that we loved when we were kids? My kids couldn't care less. Neither of them has any interest in my "old Porsche".

I've seen two good friends pass leaving their collections to family and wives to sell off. In both cases it was stressful at best and in one instance it led to the wife feeling her husbands friends had taken advantage of her.

I've had this discussion with several other collectors some of whom firmly believe I'm wrong on this. I'm interested in seeing what others have to say on this topic.

I do think that "good stuff" will always find a buyer.


Active member
Staff member
I have heard a lot about the aging of the hobby, I heard it in the 1960s too. Anyone who has attended The Show of Shows should know better. When you look at the total young population, there is a very small percentage that are interested in history, now just because we are all interested in history and are old does not mean that most old people are interested in history. SOS is a great way to look at the overall ration of the population that is interested in collecting militaria. During the show, there is with out doubt the largest concentration of people interested in collecting in Louisville, but if you counted the number and compared it to the number of people in that city, you will find that we are a very small segment of society. Not every young person needs to be interested, but remember when you see a kid at a show, treat him or her as they are the most important person there, because they are the future of our hobby. Every kid we snub at a show, or on line, reduces the value of your investments.


Well-known member
Interesting and food for thought .As we all age there are the thoughts about selling
our collections .However when I invested 50 years of effort to build up a collection
the thought of having it leave at one time is not a good thought .I never approached
collecting as an investment so I do not worry about that part .I see no slow down for now .
If any of you look at the Grenadier Auction by Bruce Hermann which is on line right now
I see a lot of strong bids .$8,000 ; $ 5,000 of course there is a lot of 3rd Reich items
but one Imperial lot is at $ 5,000 .Helmut Weitze said his sales are very strong .I saw
on his site that on April 20 his show in Hamburg has opened back up to the public.
I had the best S O S 2020 in my years of going to the show .Not because of anyone
having to sell but purchases from the regular dealers who always have good items for sale .
Collecting is fun and I have found out that 3 things can happen ; an item can be sold for a profit ;
a sale where you move an item at your cost to buy something else , or I sell for less than I paid .
No fun but it happens .I have had the please of owning it
There is the question of how many young collectors will come along .The true question is how many
will be able to afford to collect at todays prices ?
It is true when we look around at the S O S most of us are older collectors .
Steve McFarland


Staff member
This topic of concern has been raised previously. I have discussed this with Dave Hiorth the owner of Toronto Military Antiques the largest dealer in my province of Ontario. Right now his storefront is closed but he tells me, business is good online. In other conversations he has mentioned his biggest sales on ebay were for militaria related books. In the last 3 years he has moved to an even larger store. When asked about the "young collector" issue he assured me that he had lots of young customers including generation Xers who were still living in their parents basements :) . Dave also bought tables at this years SOS for the first time in order to raise his company's profile in the US. He has always come to the Show for at least one day in order to complete deals made with US dealers. Our own Peter S. has attended Toronto Shows and knows Dave. So one would think that there is still a market out there for our collectibles. :thumb up: . Regarding the sale of a collection, I do not think it is fair to burden a wife or family with that, unless a son or daughter has been involved in the collection and knows values and the best ways to sell.
I would also agree, that we should expect a downturn in prices for the more common pieces as we boomers sell off/downsize.
In conversations with Steve I have encouraged him to keep collecting if he wants to...why not if it gives you pleasure?? What the Hell, you can't take your money with you. At this stage in life, why not enjoy your hard earned cash that you worked all your life to save?
Regarding Gustaf's comment, I would agree, this hobby has always been for the select few and word gets around our community real quick when some dealer "screws" a collector. The SOS is a big deal for us militaria collectors BUT the crowd that shows up for the "Flea Market" the same weekend in a different hall, is just as big or larger. I also learned early on in this field of collecting, that reputation is everything, you never want to be labeled as dishonest or a shyster. My opinion.

Like Steve, I do not collect for the money but I collect for the interest and the fun of hunting for that illusive piece missing in the collection.

Even though making a profit is rarely a motive in our decisions to buy, we are yet very careful to spend our money wisely. The evidence of this is that none of us would spend $1,000 on a dodgy M15 but instead, we would happily consider spending sixfold that on a good looking Hessen Lieb-Dragoner. Why? Well, rarity and excitement aside, we all know that it is far better money spent at the end of the day, even if it costs six times the amount. To that extent, therefore, we are making an investment.

If you agree with the above, then the next logical question to ask is whether that investment will keep its value. And the reason we have to address that issue is simply because there is certainly no point in buying a Hessen Lieb-Dragoner for $6,000 when there is a realistic prospect that we can pick up the same a couple of months later for half the price. At that point the “investment” becomes an asset.

Whether we want it or not, our collections have become marketable assets in respect of which price fluctuations will depend on availability and demand.



Well-known member
Hello Alex ;
Years ago I would get a very special item for my collection .Back then I had a saying to myself ;
" I Will never get rid of this ! " Well fast forward a few years ; never has a whole new meaning .
Over the years I have sold many of those special items , but I always converted the cash into new
or different items for the collection. This year I sold 2 of those very special items just before
and at the S O S .I took the cash and rolled it into new items for the collection .

By the way ; the $ 6,000 for a Hessian Dragoon officers helmet ; I hope that we are talking about
a Leib D R 23 with star at that price ?

Back to collecting ; when I have collector friends come to visit I tell them if you see anything
that you would like to buy when the time comes let me know and I will put your name under it .
I have at least 3 collectors who have their lists made up .Or give me your business card I will
place it under the item .I try to make a small tag for the items in my collection .They show
who the item was purchased from ; the date and the amount paid .I remember when collectors
who tell their wife a lesser amount than they paid .Dumb idea .

There was a local collector who passed away at too young of an age .No children but married .
A friend of mine Mike K. and another friend stepped in and started to sell off the collection
for the widow at shows .After they sold what they could they bought the balance of the
collection from her .So good honest men who stepped up and helped .The widow has been cashed out .
Steve McFarland


A very interesting and thought- provoking topic. From a UK perspective, as far as the current situation is concerned, I thought prices might drop, but I haven’t seen much sign of this across the range of militaria I collect. Daniel Fisher of Regimentals said in a recent update that they were getting low offers from people who thought they would be desperate to sell, but in fact demand is holding up well.

As far as the future is concerned, there’s a lot more disposable income in my baby- boomer generation (just turned 70) than there is now, or is ever likely to be in my kids’ generation, given changes in pension provision, stability of employment etc, and that’s without taking account of the impact of Covid-19. The other aspect is that my sons have no interest in my collections, and my wife certainly doesn’t, although the grand-children might, as they get older? Being a practical person, she asked me a while ago to catalogue the major items, with some rough idea of price, so that if I go first she has some idea what she’s trying to dispose of. I know it sounds a bit morbid but I’ve quite enjoyed taking photos and writing descriptions, although I haven’t got as far as including prices paid yet! As far as how to sell is concerned, I would be telling her to use a reputable auction house, like Bosleys, here in UK for convenience, albeit with the loss of the value in the commission. The items would probably find the right market value on eBay , but that’s a lot of work for somebody who probably will have more things on their mind at that time. I will absolutely warn her off approaches from dealers!



Active member
Gustaf said:
Not every young person needs to be interested, but remember when you see a kid at a show, treat him or her as they are the most important person there, because they are the future of our hobby. Every kid we snub at a show, or on line, reduces the value of your investments.

I agree with you 100% Gus. I certainly do try to offer a "young collector" price, partially because it always annoyed me that the old guys back in the day didn't treat me with any respect.

I was a young collector in the 1980s when I went to gun and military collectibles show with my grandfather and great uncle. Back then there were a handful of young collectors at those shows like there is today. There will be a handful of young collectors in 20 years. Militaria isn't for the young, who have other things to do and spend their money on. But you don't see young people collecting general antiques or glassware either.

The other thing to remember is that younger people are exposed to history like never before. We have movies and TV shows. Documentaries on YouTube and most notably video games to build interest in WWI and WWII. Back when I was a teen I knew what an MG08 or StG44 was but no one else my age likely did. Today everyone who plays video games knows this stuff.


New member
Very interesting topic.
It seems me helmet's value is increasing in last years
New fans will be fundamental to keep that value.

Steve Nick

I’ve yet to meet a collector who actually collected for the money. A lot of us rationalize collecting as being an investment but at the end of the day we collect because we find the stuff fascinating. We enjoy doing the research, searching for elusive items and get pleasure from envisioning the historic events that the pieces may have been present at.

I suspect that the majority of us collect because we were exposed in our youth to people who were involved in The Great War or WW II. That direct connection doesn’t exist for today’s youth.

Both my sons are very interested in military history and are both active reservists, but they don’t collect and have little interest in taking on my collection. I remember being paranoid about my sons having their friends over to the house because I was sure that they’d be pawing the helmets and playing with swords etc. I soon relaxed as the universal reaction was the initial “What is this stuff?” “Wow , cool.” Followed by “So what video games have you got?

Don’t get me wrong, there is no doubt that there will always be collectors because there will always be people interested in history. I just don’t think there will be as many as there are now.

Time will tell but I believe that ten years from now will be a great opportunity for the smaller number of young collectors who will be able to have their pick from the large volume of items that will be coming onto the market


Staff member
I started collecting militaria to bring into the classroom when teaching WW1 & 11. I believed seeing and sometimes handling a piece of History would have more effect on my students. When I was 16, I talked my mother into buying me my first piece of militaria, a Wilkinson Sword WW1 bayonet dated 1917 which I still have. I also think that the fact my father was a WW2 vet and my Scottish grandfather fought with the HLI at the Dardanelles and France had something to do with it. My grandfather had an intense dislike for Mr Churchill for some reason.

Steve Nick

b.loree said:
..... my Scottish grandfather fought with the HLI at the Dardanelles and France had something to do with it. My grandfather had an intense dislike for Mr Churchill for some reason.

Gallipoli? Gee, I wonder why.


Staff member
Sorry yes Gallipoli of course. He was a reservist with the Glasgow Battalion before the war. The remaining HLI were sent to Egypt after Gallipoli then eventually to France as I mentioned . In the only photo I have of him in uniform, he has corporal stripes and a Lewis Gunner Instructor badge.


Active member
One point I will add is that in the short term we'll have to be far more patient. In the U.S. the mail has been painfully slow. I had waited three weeks for a "two-day" Priority Mail package to arrive.

I'm still waiting for another Priority Mail package sent two weeks ago.

Yesterday I expected two UPS boxes. One arrived and I'm trying not to be upset, but the second (and more important) isn't here. It was delayed a day and I know it is within 20 miles of my house but it might not get here until Monday at the earliest.

I am grateful to even get mail and packages. My area has been hit hard by the virus. I applaud the fact that the mailman and UPS drivers are able do their jobs in these difficult times.


Staff member
Canada Post has already announced to expect delays due to a massive increase in volume. To be expected due to so many shopping on line during this crisis.


Active member
Well, my situation with UPS was in a word: surreal.

The package didn't arrive on Thursday as expected but was literally 10 miles from my house I found out. It sat all day, so at 5pm I called UPS, waited on hold and asked to speak to a supervisor. I thanked UPS repeatedly for continuing to work, but asked firmly why my package was delayed. At 6pm I was called by the manager at the depot. Apparently paint spilled inside the truck!

I was quite upset as I was waiting on my MG08/15 dummy machine gun. I imagined a ton of paint everywhere. I was able to go at 8pm and pick up the box. I never even got out of my van - UPS kindly loaded the box in the back. It turned out it was very minor, but UPS had to "wait for the paint to dry" for reasons I don't understand. I've seen more mustard on Gus on SOS than there was paint on the box.

So I carefully unpacked it. All is good. I'll post photos this weekend.

Meanwhile my USPS packages... still waiting. I'll likely continue to wait.


Hi everybody,

I presume this topic is more relevant to those that have invested a (small) fortune in their collection, than collectors like me whose collections are only worth a couple of thousands. But for me it is the pleasure of searching for the items, the actual bidding process, researching them and enjoying them that makes it worth while.

I would like my kids to take an interest in the family heirlooms, which are a couple of postcards and some other small things that don't even fill half a shoe-box, but the rest of the collection is just "stuff" that I acquired, very interesting to me but not necessarily to them. When I pass away the items will most likely be given away or sold below their value, and I don't mind because they have served their purpose: giving enjoyment to me.

Have a nice weekend, Lars


Active member
Staff member
Lars13 said:
When I pass away the items will most likely be given away or sold below their value, and I don't mind because they have served their purpose: giving enjoyment to me.

Have a nice weekend, Lars

And they will become a pleasure for another collector. A lot of collectors think museums are the way to go with their collections, but once the are in a museum, they may never be seen or researched again.