Here are the latest news items and commentary on current economics news, market trends, stocks, investing opportunities, and the precious metals markets. We also cover hedges, derivatives, and obscura. And it bears mention that most of these items are from the “tangibles heavy” contrarian perspective of JWR. (SurvivalBlog’s Founder and Senior Editor.) Today’s focus is on Militaria. (See the Tangibles Investing section.)
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Peter Hug: Gold Lifts Against Macro Concerns
Economy & Finance:
A fascinating piece, at The Atlantic: How Manhattan Became a Rich Ghost Town
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Tangibles Investing (Militaria):
On two occasions, I’ve had consulting clients ask me about investing in miltaria. My general advice is that miltaria that is less than 100 years old is a poor investment. The main reason for this is that most modern military badges, uniforms, decorations, helmets, caps, belt buckles, and so forth are mass produced. For 20th and 21st Century militaria, only items with specific provenance to their original owners have real value as historic collectibles. For example: Millions of helmet covers were produced from the 1930s to the 2010s. But if you have one that is inscribed with the name of someone with historic significance and a provenance letter to go with it, then you have something that is likely to go up in value. But all of the countless other helmet covers out there are little more than idle curiosities, and just one notch up from rags.
The second problem is that militaria collectors tend to be fickle. Historical interest in various military conflicts waxes and wanes, over the years. Part of this is simply generational. The World War I generation is now all dead and buried. In another 10 or 15 years, we can say the same of the World War II generation. Time marches on, and graves are filled. Thus, the numbers of collectors for particular conflicts diminishes. There are of course some exceptions. For example, Napoleonic War militaria is scarce and quite desirable. Likewise U.S. War of Independence and Civil War militaria continues to appreciate in value.
The third problem with militaria is that many of these items were made of cotton, wool, paper, cardboard, and leather. Time is not kind to such materials. In a marketplace where “condition” is often touted, with ephemera you will probably be in a losing battle, especially if you live in a humid climate. Therefore: firearms, bayonets, sabers, metal badges and metal buckles are probably your best bet, as items to set aside for your grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The sad truth is that someone who collects antique coffee cans is more likely to have something that will survive to be owned and displayed by his great-grandchildren, than someone who collects cavalry holsters.
If you are a military history buff, then go ahead and collect militaria. But unless you collect durable 19th Century or earlier items, or you concentrate on more modern items with provenance of historic significance, then don’t consider your accumulated militaria much of an “investment.”
SurvivalBlog and its Editors are not paid investment counselors or advisers. Please see our Provisos page for our detailed disclaimers.
Please send your economics and investing news tips to JWR. (Either via e-mail of via our Contact form.) These are often especially relevant, because they come from folks who particularly watch individual markets. And due to their diligence and focus, we benefit from fresh “on target” investing news. We often get the scoop on economic and investing news that is probably ignored (or reported late) by mainstream American news outlets. Thanks!