Your collection's fate?

poniatowski

Active member
I wonder about this from time to time, as my wife doesn't have a real interest in my collection and my kids have spoken for the one or two helmets they'd like.
What will happen to my collection? I don't want to 'dump' it on my wife when I die, but then I don't want to sell it either! So, I'm thinking of offering some of the helmets to museums (especially those museums associated with my alma-mater). Other than that, I think they'll be auctioned (or sold here) before I die and we'll get a nice trip or similar out of them. Others, as I said, are for my kids or even my wife if she wants one.
At 57, it's not time to act, but time to think about these things.

Anyone else wondering about such things or have ideas that are better than mine?

:D Ron
 

Peter_Suciu

Active member
I see my collection, which includes a lot of stuff (like my cannon), is my wife's insurance policy. She has a good idea what it is worth and we know the right dealers that could get her a fair price. It won't be what I paid but some items have gone up so she would do OK.

Remember if you sell to most dealers you're going to get 50 percent of the value if you are lucky. Dealers are in it to make money. This is a fact my wife understands. I've joked if something happens to me she'll be a dealer full time.

Donating to a museum is good, but there are some issues. The museum could sell the items or just never display them. Some people are bothered by that fact. Another issue that I would worry about is tax liability if the item is sold. The IRS laws in America as I understand are this... you donate a helmet to museum and get a $1000 tax credit but then the museum sells the helmet a year later for $800. You now are on the hook for $200 of that credit potentially. So if I donate anything I specify it is donated under the terms that it can't be sold for 10 years. So that way you can't be affected as much.

I think the bigger concern now is that this stuff could see a major market correction. I don't know too many young collectors and SOS is a show where James and I are the "young guys" (and I'll be 47 by the next SOS).

I don't have kids, so my thought was to pool with other collectors in my old age and open an American Museum of Military History. I bet if a bunch of just threw the collections together it would be the basis for a truly world class museum.
 

Khukri

Active member
I'm 53. And yes; I talked about this to "Missus Boss" before. And yes, she perfectly well knows what we payed ! She is well aware that you never, never, ever get back what you once payed !
But: this one is for sure: My Belgian OR Cuirassier helmet goes to the Museum in Leopoldsburg: "The Camp Beverloo Museum." The cuirass is waiting there for our helmet.
My wife just told me she will keep our collection together. Much too difficult to choose just this one-single-"favourite" helmet to keep.
No flea markets or garage sales. :x
The Brussels Army Museum would take them as a gift and store them in the cellar never to see daylight again. :cry:

Peter: Great idea to bring all this headgear together.
Francis
 

Gustaf

Active member
Staff member
Most of what goes into a museum will never see the light of day again, unless is is sold. There is nothing wrong with museums selling things that are donated, remember that if you give something away, it is no longer yours. I doubt that a clause limiting the sale for ten years would hold up in court.
I have a museum that has been after my collection, and I was considering selling it , as they had a wealthy benefactor who wanted the museum to have it. Unfortunately the curator moved on to a bigger museum and the replacement was not as stable as I would like, so I have postponed considering parting with the collection, and the wealthy benefactor is probably gone by now.
I can not afford to give away my collection, nor could Maggie afford to do so if I die, so I think that it will find its way back into the collector market eventually.
 

Leone

New member
I'm 34, and I started to collect seriously only last 5 year's. But I think anyway let my children get my collection ,and let them decide is it garage find's or museum piece. Actually all in our life is maked for our native future. And I hope that it will be my insurance polic for my children :-k
 

J.LeBrasseur

Active member
Museums scare the crap out of me. I had a family friend who was Airborne in WWII, I got a few pieces from him, but he donated a lot of it to a local museum. it has been over 30 years and none of it has ever seen the light of day. A few years ago a friend of mine got on the board of the museum and I asked him if I could come look at the military stuff they had. I got in and found tons of stuff, all packed up in the attic of the museum, most was ruined or close to it, from years of heat and cold. He told me they got more military stuff then they could ever display, and it was not a focus of the museum. I told him they should sell the stuff to fund what they wanted, and was told no they never sell anything. So in a few more years they may not have any of it left to salvage IMO. I found numerous Spiked helmets with covers that I remember seeing in the museum as a kid, great condition then, now helmets are all cracking from heat, and covers are all moth eaten.

I got some years before I need to part with the collection, but it will for sure not go to a museum.

Best

James
 

ebeeby

Member
Good topic

First, since I'll be DEAD, it's nothing to worry about

Second, I have educated my sons on militaria and firearms. They can keep what they like and sell the rest.

Third, my large trench art collection will go to the WWI Museum in KC. They can sell them to tourists or display them - doesn't matter to me. What I have enjoyed about them is the look of so many together. Others may not feel that way. My boys will keep what they want - especially the Chateau Thierrys - and deliver the rest to KC.

There will be plenty of claimants for the shotguns. Fine as long as Grandpa's go to my sons. The rest - the Parkers, the Foxs, the Ithacas can go to whichever nephew stakes a claim I suppose

There will be a few call-outs - not sure who to give the Fosbery to. Or the Kriegsmarine HSC rig, or the matching Red9 , or the WG, or the Pryse or the ....wait a minute. That's right, I'll be dead! No worries! :)
 

poniatowski

Active member
James, that sounds like one poor museum. Having worked in a museum during college, I know the storage areas aren't always perfect, but the attic has to be the worst place to store just about anything! Most museums will store 80% or more of their collections, but most will also open the archives to the public upon request, so they're not really out of the light of day, you just have to request to see the items.
I was going to talk to the museum I'm thinking of to be sure they'll display the few I'd donate and they've a great reputation for being able to have quality items in quality display spaces. I don't know if they'll want them though, it's an art, rather than military, museum, but they're starting a modest arms collection and I wonder if they'll see the value in Imperial German headgear. Like I said, I'm thinking of it, haven't done it yet!

:D Ron
 

WWI Collector

New member
Gustaf said:
Most of what goes into a museum will never see the light of day again, unless is is sold.

Or stolen. I know of several stories where a lot of the rare items were replaced by fakes, or just vanished. I would rather throw my collection in a ditch than give it to some museum just so some summer intern can steal what he wants.
 

Gustaf

Active member
Staff member
One important thing is to be very careful if you loan anything to a museum, I have a friend who loaned a rare item to a museum, he wanted the item for a show and then to return it to the museum, the curator said no, and it went to court. When the loan was made, the museum did not have any "loan" documents, so they used an accession form but crossed out accession and wrote in loan. The judge sided with the museum.
If you loan anything to a museum, never use an altered form, always set a time limit and if you want you can extend the loan, but an open ended loan can be argued to be a donation.
In the 1950s, my grandmother loaned three rifles and a number of family artifacts to the National Park Service Museum at Lava Beds National Park. In the 60s, my uncle took a cousin to see the family artifacts and they were not in the museum, he asked the curator and he knew nothing about them. When my grandmother wrote to the head of the National Park Service and told them if they did not display the artifacts at the museum where they were pertinent, they should be returned to the family. The superintendent replied that they could do what ever they wanted with the artifacts as the were donated and he sent a copy of the first two pages of the accession records for proof. Unfortunately for the museum, the first ten entries were made in the same hand, the dates were ten years too early and my grandmother's signature was forged and spelled wrong. The superintendent became more compliant when these facts were brought to his attention. But it gets better, my grandmother said that she wanted the Indian artifacts back too (in that part of the country, the rock that was picked up in the farm fields were mostly stone tools used by the Native Modoc Indians) The superintendent told her that there was no way that she could identify witch rocks were hers. She told him that most had been around the house when the kids painted the house and most had blue paint dripped on them. The museum had used a blue marker to number the rocks in the beginning, so she ended up having to hire a truck to haul off three and a half tons of artifacts, I have about a ton in my possession, and over time the blue marker has faded from the rocks, recently I found one that still bore the blue crayon mark that was used to catalog it in the 50s.
 

poniatowski

Active member
WWI Collector said:
Gustaf said:
Most of what goes into a museum will never see the light of day again, unless is is sold.

Or stolen. I know of several stories where a lot of the rare items were replaced by fakes, or just vanished. I would rather throw my collection in a ditch than give it to some museum just so some summer intern can steal what he wants.

Also, let's not forget about 'de-accessing' by the museum, which means writing 'deaccessed' on the catalog card (or in the computer) and throwing the item into the trash. I have a resin copy of a JzP helmet that the museum didn't want and brought it home after it was placed in a garbage can... yeah, garbage picker Ron.
Yes, I agree, once in a museum, it's best to either have 100% paperwork in order for a loan, or just know it's gone and out of one's control.

:D Ron
 

joerookery

New member
Interesting topic. All of us have given it some thought. I actually have two pieces – the collection and the library. I am donating the library to the University of North Texas military history Center despite Jeff Wawro. My accountant reluctantly is going to have to claim a tax deduction for a non-cash donation in the 2015 taxes. This requires an appraisal. The IRS or the American tax folks have gotten quite a bit tighter on non-cash deductions in recent years. I remember donating a bunch of my papers several years ago for a nice tax deduction – not so easy anymore. A $500 limit is about all you can do without further documentation.

I understand all the problems with museums. I do have a nice hook up with the presidents of several history departments at universities and they seem to be rather interested in artifacts as well as books. But I do acknowledge the comment about "summer interns".

We have actually put into our will where the collection will go. Most of it will be sold by a specified individual – if he is still alive. I tend to agree with Peter on the market correction. It is funny but some of the great collections in the USA are moving back to Europe where there is money. It seems as though in the USA we have an aging collector community and as these individuals consider selling they always put these unreasonably high prices on what they have. As a result – no sale. I have mentioned unscrupulous dealers swooping in on widows before but what I was saying was misunderstood. It certainly is an issue.
 

poniatowski

Active member
I hadn't really considered the 'tax deduction' aspect of a donation to a museum and it's still not a concern. If I find a museum that will display a few of the items I'd like to donate, then I'm good with that. I may be a fool, but thinking about a tax deduction isn't part of it. On the other hand, selling for market value would be, but since I didn't buy my collection as an investment (although it is), that doesn't bother me either. I guess, as usual, I'm a bit of an odd duck, but then, that's why my wife married me! :wink:

:D Ron
 

chinstrap

Member
Gus, I don't actually know where 'state of confusion' is, apart from a long way from SOS, but given the strange things that happen there, it sounds more like the end of the 'yellow brick road' than 'the blue rocks road'.

Scotland is very staid by comparison. Leaving aside Chris Rattray of course.

Your ambulances are amazing, by the way. My wife wonders why anybody would want to recreate WW1 ambulances, but then she doesn't understand what I see in helmets!

Patrick
 

ottodog8

Member
Like all collectors, I have thought about this too. I may sell it myself before I check out, or let my kids have it after I'm gone, keep what they want, send the rest to auction. Let other collectors have the opportunity to enjoy the pieces as much as I have and the kids can have fun with the money.
Steve
 

Gustaf

Active member
Staff member
Patrick, the State of Confusion is anywhere I hang my hat (and it is usually hanging on my head) I think most of the members here who have met me will confirm that.
I live an easy two day drive from SOS, or a easy 4 day drive, depending on how many short cuts I take. One year we tried to drive as much of the distance with out using freeways, we had to use freeway for the first 80 miles, as the only other roads are gravel and dirt, and we ended up an freeway for the last 60 or so miles, but managed to stay on two lane roads (and a few miles of gravel) for well over 90% of the drive.
You might mention to your wife that I am almost done with my second WWI ambulance, I am not sure how many I will build, but I do have another Ford chassis sitting in the yard.
 

poniatowski

Active member
J.LeBrasseur said:
Gus- you told me you where going to make the third one for my Birthday present next year....

James


Yes, and I could use a replica FT-17 (37mm please). :wink: Gus, if you're in the state of confusion, then I must be in the state of pandemonium.

:D Ron
 

Gustaf

Active member
Staff member
poniatowski said:
J.LeBrasseur said:
Gus- you told me you where going to make the third one for my Birthday present next year....

James


Yes, and I could use a replica FT-17 (37mm please). :wink: Gus, if you're in the state of confusion, then I must be in the state of pandemonium.

:D Ron
A friend has an original with 37mm


 
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