Alden's featured article February 28th
February 28th, 2015
For those of you who attended the SOS in Louisville this past week you’ll no doubt agree that it was arguably the most-well attended show in some many years. Frankly I had some difficulty navigating my way through the throngs of lookers and wanderers, and the crowds persisted until the show’s closing on the second day. How sales were for most dealers is a question yet to be answered.
Some dealers complained that sales were lackluster and that the hordes of isle-cloggers were just tire kickers; yet others boasted of staggering sales and flourished wads of cash at me. I suspect that the truth of the enterprise was somewhere in the middle. What I can commit to is this: given the massive attendance one can only conclude that indeed interest in this hobby is very much alive and flourishing. There’s no other way of looking at it.
I also noted that those dealers who claimed to have done well sales-wise – a claim supported by the dense activity around their tables – were the guys who really put themselves out there and sold the crowd. These are the dealers who want to sell their goods, are attentive to customers, show enthusiasm and demonstrate a sincere willingness to work with you. They’re happy to have you at their tables and are reluctant to let you leave. Hey, it’s common in any selling activity: build it and they will come is of the past as far as the militaria business is concerned. These relics typically don’t sell themselves any more.
Those dealers who just sat there and didn’t rise to greet you when you inquired about an item’s price – they’re pretty much unapproachable guys and you know the type – who showed little energy or interest or seemed to care less about moving their inventory; well, those are the dealers who gave dismal reports on the show’s performance. No wonder.
Hey, how about the dealers who are never at their tables? They have someone radio them with your inquiry and you hear a crackling reply back…“tell him I need $150 on it”. No bargaining, no negotiating, no sale.
As is the case with Janet and me we go to the SOS just to buy and don’t set up to sell. I covered every square inch of the show, an event which I often describe as acres of militaria and indeed it literally is. That’s why I say that I really work the show. Finding the stuff is one thing; actually buying it at a decent price is another. Sure, there are plenty of really good buys out there on the floor but they have to be found and often negotiated. You can’t be discouraged by a high price as often the dealer will quickly come down to a workable number, other times however they will likely take the item with them into the next world.
I’d say that the February SOS was a great show. As with any endeavor in life it’s what you make of it; if it’s to be it’s up to me.
Happy collecting and please stay in touch! We love to hear from you.
Alden and Janet
“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” Thomas Jefferson
Selling Hitler, Robert Harris’ 1987 published narrative chronicling the forged Hitler diaries, is arguably one of the most entertaining reads relative to the collecting of Third Reich memorabilia.
Central to this story is the stunning hoax created and perpetuated by the notorious German forger Konard Kujau who over the period of several years created some sixty purported Hitler volumes in the Fuhrer’s handwriting and then sold them piecemeal to the publishing firm of Bertelsmann A.G. The German magazine Stern was preparing to publish much of the content of these diaries when noted British historian David Irving examined them and promptly exposed them as obvious fakes.
Of particular interest to us in the collecting community is the forger Konrad Kujau, alias Connie Fischer, who was at the time a well-known dealer of Third Reich German memorabilia, artifacts and relics. Yes, Kujau was a dealer in genuine 3rd Reich articles but his principle business was that of surreptitiously selling forged Hitler documents, signatures and autographs and he was alleged to have forged over three hundred Hitler water colors and drawings.
This book delves deeply into the 1960’s Nazi memorabilia collecting underground in Germany and to those of us who have such an interest it’s absolutely riveting. The narrative swirls around the subterranean lives of Hitler’s inner circle; the unrepentant secretaries and administrators, the wives of key 3rd Reich personalities as well as the SS guards and adjutants who were close to Hitler right up to the final days in May 1945. Important too to the story is the Stern journalist, Gerd Heidemann, who immersed himself into this strange Nazi underground world and was so delusional himself that he was blindly sucked into Kojau’s Hitler diaries hoax. Heidemann at one time owned and restored Hermann Goring’s yacht Carin II and held numerous parties on board frequently attended by the then aging Hitler inner circle.
I recently examined a Kojau-forged Hitler letter. It was composed in Hitler’s hand writing on old, period writing paper and it was indeed a dangerously good fake. Already sold to another dealer this Kojau example of forged Hitler script sold for over $400.00. Kojau’s work is collectible today in its own right and from time to time we offer examples of his forgeries. His faked Hitler watercolors and drawings command tidy sums indeed. After his release from German incarceration and shortly before his death Kojau opened a shop in Stuttgart selling what he advertised as “authentic fakes” and his spurious industry continued until the time of his death in 2000.
Author Robert Harris’ narrative style is that of a fine journalist; the guy knows how to write and it’s a very pleasing read. You can order the book on Amazon and have it in hand in a matter of days. For myself, I have read it twice and a third perusal is long-overdue; it’s that good.
Alden W. Hamilton
January, 24th, 2016