After spending the last few days at the, much anticipated Show of Shows, I thought I would post a few thoughts and observations. No earth shaking revelations, just a look back from someone who had a great time at the show.
There was, as always, some fantastic militaria. The high end Third Reich dealers never fail to bring their share of museum grade items to the show. They were not alone. All genres of collecting were well represented with rarities seldom seen anywhere but this show.
There were more Civil War dealers than I'd seen in a number of years. They offered a wide variety of collectibles that included swords, uniforms, insignia and ordnance. Even a few great groupings. These dealers add a lot to the show and offer some diversity to an event that is sometime mistakenly thought of as a WW2 venue.
There was a nice selection of 19th century firearms. More than I have seen in the last few years. This could be a result of the show not coinciding with the National Gun Day Show. Members seem to be divided as to whether the two shows should be scheduled for the same weekend. Some feel that the two shows together are overwhelming and welcome a chance to do them both justice on different dates. Others, particularly the ones that travel great distances, want the opportunity to make their travel dollars count by getting two shows in for the price of one.
There was a lot of great WW2 American militaria. Groupings and named items seemed to draw the most interest. This may be because a "name and a face", to go with their relic is as close as younger collectors are going to get to knowing a WW2 veteran.
It seems that a lot of American Third Reich dealers are bringing their best to the show in hopes of selling it to the German dealers. I was told by one of the German dealers that "the best of the Third Reich material is being bought back by wealthy Germans".
I didn't see as many items offered in bulk as I remember from past shows. Maybe it's just getting harder to find merchandise that can be sold this way. A couple of years ago, I was able to buy 19th century German cabinet card photographs for three dollars each in groups of fifty. Now, that dealer doesn't bring a container load to the show anymore, choosing instead to offer his merchandise on the internet. For what it's worth, the photographs are now ten dollars each.
I liked the single larger room. It made for a level playing field. No one had to deal with having a table in the "little room", which is the dealer equivalent of the kid's table at Thanksgiving. I don't think there was a bad table location in the hall.
I read on the forum and heard from talk on the floor of several dealers having valuable items stolen. It's my understanding that this involved one individual who was caught and the merchandise recovered. Fortunately this situation ended well, but a lot of times dealers aren't so lucky. I'm always amazed at how many dealers have expensive items displayed without cases or at unattended tables.
The Louisville Fairgrounds, as of January 1,2016 has banned the sale of Confederate flags or anything with a Confederate flag design at their facility. This was a knee- jerk reaction to the events of last year in South Carolina. Hopefully, their efforts at political correctness don't in time, adversely effect our hobby.
The veteran guests were, as always, a great part of the show. They are a reminder that this show isn't just about relics, but even more importantly about the men that served our country.
It's my understanding that the society is taking a hard look at what is acceptable to be worn at the show. Reenactors are part of the living history aspect of the show and welcomed by most everyone. The WW2 family and the Civil War couple were great. That said, there were a couple of guys wearing shirts and jackets that pushed the boundaries of free expression.
There seemed to be more tables and chairs for weary shoppers to rest and regroup. The chow was good. The Pork Producers and the ice cream vendors always bring a good product to the show.
Most dealers that I talked to, said that they had a good show. The crowd on Friday appeared to be smaller than usual, but looks could be deceiving taking into account the larger room and wider aisles. The Saturday attendance probably suffered from the distraction of unseasonably warm weather in Louisville.
I'll close out with a bit of demographics. I didn't see a single African- American at the show. That's interesting in light of the huge contribution African-Americans have made to the defense our country. Woman, with the exception of our wives and girlfriends, were in short supply. Collectors did come from all over the United States, Europe and Asia to attend the show.
All said, I had a great time.I bought some stuff and I sold some stuff. I saw a lot of old friends and made some new ones. It's all good.