A guide to selling your militaria. Dorrell. November 2014.
Militaria dealers have got the collecting world pretty well tapped, however if you are a private individual and are looking to sell a old army cap, uniform or medal etc., how can you go about it? Attracting buyers should always be a key agenda of any business and is even more important for a seller who doesn't have the resources or reach of a dealer. Perhaps the easiest approach then would be to consign your item or sell it directly to a dealer, but remember that as a business they are also looking to make money and so you might not get the price that you feel you deserve.
Remember too that an advertised price from a dealer doesn't necessarily mean that the item is worth that price to a collector. This is dependent in part on the current climate and on what you are offering. Most collectors tend to be specific to a certain area and as such should be fairly competent in their field of knowledge. What for them is a fairly common piece may appear uncommon to a dealer. After all most dealers tend to handle a broad spectrum of articles. What I call climate refers to a major historical anniversary or the release of a new war film, which tends to raise prices, although this doesn't seem to be from a sudden increase in actual collector demand.
However, with a little cunning, patience and not to mention time, you can sell your item yourself on an online auction or classified page. The main ingredient for success is to identify what you have, which, for a collector is not such an issue but perhaps you are selling granddad's old medal, then I would suggest you do a quick research to at least identify what you have before advertising.
Identifying your item to a particular country, branch and/or period should give you the best chance to realise your price, and such information is attractive to buyers. This is where the websites such as the OCAD Museum and Link Directories can prove helpful. A decent title and description can work wonders for a buyer, so be sure to give an appraisal of its condition and describe key features, giving size and maker details. Combined with a good set of photos this can be quite effective.
Generally the more photos you show the better, but remember the old adage, quality and not quantity. I have seen so many listings showing multiple and near identical views of an item, as if the photographer sneezed and left his finger on the snapper. Try to show varied angled views and include the insides, if it has one. Maker details and badge and button details are also vital.
The visual size of the photo on screen is also paramount. Ask yourself, will it fill a computer screen? Can you make out manufacturer details? Do the colours match with the real thing?
Photographs do not need to be full screen in size but bare in mind that collectors are put off by grainy passport photo sized images, such as those taken by some cell phones and webcams. In fact it is the dream and indeed luck of a few collectors to acquire interesting and desirable items that have been badly titled, described and/or photographed, thus getting a bargain. Believe me this happen more often that you would think.
Pricing is perhaps the single most challenging part of selling something, and setting "the right price" can be quite difficult. So often I have seen fairly common military items, modern surplus or even out right relics priced ridiculously. The bottom line is to know what you have and also what you want for it. Unless you indeed have the holy grail of a military collectible, such as a WWII German Paratrooper's helmet, then a high price for a modest item is certainly off putting. With auction style listings sometimes a low price can work in your favour and spark interest, thus leading to a much more favorable price. If you need some help, try a quick web search for similar items to gain an idea of what to ask for. However if your asking price fails to attract a buyer then you can always lower it later.
Lastly, where should you post your item for sale? There are many online places that offer adverts or auction listings for a fee. Most are general interest, several are category specific and the remainder are Militaria sites. There are also a lesser number of Militaria sites, or military interest sites, that offer free classified listings on their websites, such as the OCAD Militaria Collectors Resources.
Examining how large the specific categories or sub categories are of certain paying sites can hint at the amount of collectors they attract. The larger the category and the more items listed would suggest more buyers and thus a potential site for you to sell on. An an example of a specific category may be, "World War II" with a subcategory of "Uniforms". I would also suggest posting the item on a free listing website to maximize its exposure and chances of selling. The benefit is, should the item fail to sell, then you have only lost the time it took you to list it and nothing more.
Alternatively, if you are more concerned about passing the item on to a collection where it will be preserved and appreciated you might consider donating it. If you have any questions about this article or would like to submit an article to this website please email us.
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