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When the Family comes calling.........


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#226 willysmb44

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Posted 12 November 2013 - 09:04 PM

 

The people I am talking about are officers with a couple of West Point grads thrown in the mix and all retired.

 

Their attitude is that this stuff is sacred and should not be in the publics hands.

 

There are more and more people with this attitude.

 

Just an observation I thought might have some relevance.

 

 

I get that you don't agree with them, but you must have asked by now, what they think should happen to said stuff when the vet is gone?

Viking funeral for the medals. or what?

 

This is the flipside of all the backlash of the vets being treated poorly in 'Nam, make no mistake about it. We've gotten to a point where people don't even think someone should own WW2 anything becuase we've placed these vets on a pedestal (heck, someone tried to call the cops on me the last time I drove my 1944 Willys Jeep because she thought it was 'disrespectful' for a non-WW2 vet to own one!). And most WW2 vets have agreed that we've gone maybe a little too far in that regard. "We were just people, for crying out loud!" a WW2 vet said to me over the weekend...



#227 cutiger83

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Posted 12 November 2013 - 09:13 PM

This is the flipside of all the backlash of the vets being treated poorly in 'Nam, make no mistake about it. We've gotten to a point where people don't even think someone should own WW2 anything because we've placed these vets on a pedestal. And most WW2 vets have agreed that we've gone maybe a little too far in that regard. "We were just people, for crying out loud!" a WW2 vet said to me over the weekend...

 

Exactly! I believe this is why public perception has changed in recent years.

 

....Kat


Edited by cutiger83, 12 November 2013 - 09:16 PM.


#228 Wharfmaster

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Posted 12 November 2013 - 09:24 PM

It all started with "The Greatest Generation" thing. I was raised and surrounded by children of the Depression and if my folks were still living, they would say the young men and women now fighting for our country are the greatest.

Every generation has their greats and not so greats. The WW2 vets would be the first to tell you that. They were just people. Exactly !

We must respect all generations for their part in our history.


W

#229 Timberwolf

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Posted 12 November 2013 - 09:33 PM

It all started with "The Greatest Generation" thing. I was raised and surrounded by children of the Depression and if my folks were still living, they would say the young men and women now fighting for our country are the greatest.

Every generation has their greats and not so greats. The WW2 vets would be the first to tell you that. They were just people. Exactly !

We must respect all generations for their part in our history.


W

 

I agree 100% we had at least 12 million men in the service in WWII, you know there had to be some not so great one's in there.

 

Probably some of the best advice I heard was from a WAC veteran who served in the early 50's. "Just because someone where's the uniform, doesn't make them a good person".

 

-Ben.



#230 doyler

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Posted 12 November 2013 - 10:10 PM

Lee

 

I totally agree.Seems when I was a kid not a lot of people even cared about WW2 veterans.I even had the honor of knowing a few WW1 vets here in the mid 1970s.Lots of Korea vets and when I could find them there were even Viet Nam vets who remained in the area after the war.

 

I cant tell you the number of times when visiting veterans that their own kids would ask why I would even be intrested in their father or his story.THese men were a bit embarrased even back then to talk about it and would comment on how no one was really intrested...not even their  kids would care.I often heard things that they had never told anyone outside of another buddy or unit member.Sometimes their kids would listen and sometimes not.Most of these guys were in the mid stages of life.Looking toward retirement,getting the kids in and out of colledge etc.I would say at this time nearly 100 percent of the vets children had no intrest in any of their fathers items or stories.

 

Fast forward to the present day and after a few mini series and documentaries these guys were catapulted into the lime light.Add in the internet and "reality value" shows and now the same familiy members all of a sudden have priceless treausure.Funny how it was junk to them a few years ago and now its worth something its a family heirloom.I cant count the times I had made an offer for something to see the reaction of the family go from not wanting it to now theres no way in hell your selling it(after seeing the amount offered).Im all for seing it stay in the family but most seem to not see the worth until its put into a monetary value.I understand many of the vets kids have aged and see things differently and may be more sentimental now as well but it always tends to go back to the cash if you know what I mean.

 

As you said thes guys consider themselves just  ordinary people who did a job.Many were more than happy just getting along and being in the shadows.Some had and still do have memories that are vivid to this day and remain silent.I know one who was a glider pilot and he would awake at night and still smell the scent of the glider burning and the partial leg in a boot he saw burning in germany the day he went in during Varsity.Another I know will tell you when its cold at night and hes in bed his feet will be cold and it takes him right back to Bastogne.

 

I have helped here locally on more than one honor flight and these men are all a bit over whelmed and a bit embarassed by the attention.THey are all so humble and gracious and amazed that people would care.I have seen more vets brought to tears than I can count on one of these pre honor flights while waiting to be loaded for the trip.Each one I have escorted to the assembly area will always say how thankful they are for the trip and how they are not a hero and say"I really didnt do anything".I will reply to them ..Sir you have always been my hero.

 

Whether it be WW1,WW2,Korea,Viet Nam,Peace time and all the Desert Wars in between,these men have always been heroes.What is sad is it has taken so long for them to be noticed.They have been here all the time.They are our neighbors,business owners,co-workers,even your janitor when you were in school and have gone un-noticed in most cases.Just really sad how many have never been given recognition or a simple thankyou.

 

If collecting and preserving a few items is upsetting to these do gooders than so be it.I just hope the do-gooders can see its because of  veterans they have the right to find fault in what we as collectors do.



#231 manayunkman

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Posted 12 November 2013 - 11:24 PM

Where will the stuff go you ask ?

 

Where do MOH's go ?



#232 Sabrejet

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Posted 12 November 2013 - 11:50 PM

A  sadly late friend of mine was a high-end Battle of Britain medals collector. He was a successful Realtor so had plenty of disposable income to spend on his collecting. I was once with him when he successfully bid the equivalent of $60,000 on an RAF Sgt-Pilot's medals at a London auction-house. He had several such groupings from both British and Commonwealth BoB pilots. The family of the Sgt Pilot chose to sell his medals because he was old and infirmed and in need of expensive residential medical care. Deed of ownership was provided by the auction house on completion of the sale so legally the medals were then the possession of my friend. Fast forward a few years. There was a commemorative service being held at Westminster Abbey in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen to honour surviving BoB veterans. My friend learned that the Sgt Pilot, although wheelchair bound by now, was going to attend the service. So, without telling anyone, he drove up to London, taking the medals with him ( a British style full medal bar) and met the surprised vet outside the Abbey. He pinned the medal bar onto his coat and so the vet could take his place among his former comrades-in-arms with pride. After the service, the medals were returned to my friend. I'm relating this story because it was a splendid gesture which illustrates why precious medals are sometimes sold by the family...and it also demonstrates the respect that collectors have for their artefacts and, above all,  their recipients.



#233 67Rally

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 06:26 AM

A  sadly late friend of mine was a high-end Battle of Britain medals collector. He was a successful Realtor so had plenty of disposable income to spend on his collecting. I was once with him when he successfully bid the equivalent of $60,000 on an RAF Sgt-Pilot's medals at a London auction-house. He had several such groupings from both British and Commonwealth BoB pilots. The family of the Sgt Pilot chose to sell his medals because he was old and infirmed and in need of expensive residential medical care. Deed of ownership was provided by the auction house on completion of the sale so legally the medals were then the possession of my friend. Fast forward a few years. There was a commemorative service being held at Westminster Abbey in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen to honour surviving BoB veterans. My friend learned that the Sgt Pilot, although wheelchair bound by now, was going to attend the service. So, without telling anyone, he drove up to London, taking the medals with him ( a British style full medal bar) and met the surprised vet outside the Abbey. He pinned the medal bar onto his coat and so the vet could take his place among his former comrades-in-arms with pride. After the service, the medals were returned to my friend. I'm relating this story because it was a splendid gesture which illustrates why precious medals are sometimes sold by the family...and it also demonstrates the respect that collectors have for their artefacts and, above all,  their recipients.

That is fantastic and underscores the sentiments of the militaria collectors with whom I have become good friends via this forum. Folks, there are all types of people across all walks of life. Liars and cheaters abound in every facet and every aspect of life. Just the same, honest, good-hearted people surround us.The rest of humanity fits into the spectrum somewhere in between. I find that most people will be honest when presented with the opportunity. I have also found that the dark, criminal element is in a terribly small minority though the results of their deeds are disproportionate to the population segment size.

When the family comes calling, do what YOU think and feel is right. If you've obtained the militaria through honest means, you are the rightful caretaker of the item(s). Taking the stance that all families (self-described or the real McCoy) shouldn't be blasted unless, of course, it is warranted (which we've seen examples of said justification posted here). Remember, what is posted on the internet has an infinite lifespan which means that what you post can come back to haunt you (as can your acts of goodwill).



#234 Sabrejet

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 06:31 AM

As PS to the above...when my friend passed away suddenly at the age of just 47, his sister paid almost $500,000 for a Victoria Cross in his memory. So, another family benefited quite considerably financially from the sale of a medal, albeit a special one. Read about it here...

 

http://www.walesonli...a-cross-2071433

 

 

bwreidw.jpg


Edited by Sabrejet, 13 November 2013 - 06:35 AM.


#235 KVSkelton

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 06:43 PM

Great story Ian. Thank you for sharing and my sympathies at the loss of your friend at such a young age...

 

I was contacted recently by the Son of a 15th AAF bomber pilot. I had acquired 3 uniforms, dog tags, B4 bag and visor of his Father at the SOS in 2011. As I collect on a fairly tight budget, this grouping became one of my favorite parts of my collection. I researched the pilot, receiving his NARA records (typical "lost in the fire of 73" response). Cobrahistorian helped me by unearthing several mission reports and some other data as well. But I lacked what I really wanted...a photo of the pilot. To me, photos bring items to life. I wanted to put a face to the name. While researching this airman, I posted an inquiry about him on the ArmyAirForces forum. That was 2 years ago. A couple weeks ago, I received an email saying I had received a message on that forum. I finally remembered my password and read the message. It was from the pilot's Son. I thought "oh no...again?" If you read my earlier post about the P38 pilot's grouping, you'll understand. Anyway, his Son just asked if I'd contact him as he was looking for information about his Father too. So, I wrote him. I explained how I had acquired his Dad's items, what I had and discussed some of my collecting philosophy. I also mentioned I had been trying to find a photo of his Father for a couple of years. I mentioned that I had mission reports and other information I'd gladly share with him. Then I held my breath and waited...

 

The response could not have been better. We've exchanged several emails over the last couple of weeks. I've sent him a couple of mission reports and a photo of one of the B-17s his Father flew. He has sent me 3 photos of his Dad, including one in full flight gear beside the B-17G Weary Willie. He says that he has a jump drive with a lot more information on it and he'll send soon and that the best was yet to come. He is happy his Father's items have found a good home. And he told me "My Mom is going to flip out when she hears I found you!" I had one questionable experience when the family called...but this time it worked out better than I could imagine...

 

The pilot:

 

http://s23.photobucket.com/user/kvskelton/media/IMG_0284_zps0d1db6d4.jpg.html



#236 Spy vs Spy

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 02:07 AM

This story of mine is not same but still thought I would share it.

I bought a SOG Iron Guard some years back from a OIF Special Forces ODA veteran. This knife was very personal to the veteran as he had got it while in training for deployment to Iraq. The "grey beard" an old SOG Recon Team member thought it was "cool" if the SOG was carried once more into combat. A SOG knife that had seen two wars, ofcourse I was interested in buying it. The veteran sent along some other SF and Iraq stuff that he thought I should have and all documents and photos to the SOG RT member.
We kept in contact over the years me and the veteran.
Some years after I bought the SOG, I got an email, that said they had just finished moving to their new house and financial was better.
In a very humble way he also asked if I could ever sell back the SOG knife to him.
Looking back, I think its allmost 4 years ago that the SOG knife was shipped back to the US.
We are still in contact and not long ago I got a letter with a Iraq E&E map and some more photos in the mail.
I have a standing invitation to visit the veteran any time Im in US.

I know this is a different story but its the closest I have been to returning something.

Regards
Martin

#237 JDK

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 08:12 AM

A  sadly late friend of mine was a high-end Battle of Britain medals collector. He was a successful Realtor so had plenty of disposable income to spend on his collecting. I was once with him when he successfully bid the equivalent of $60,000 on an RAF Sgt-Pilot's medals at a London auction-house. He had several such groupings from both British and Commonwealth BoB pilots. The family of the Sgt Pilot chose to sell his medals because he was old and infirmed and in need of expensive residential medical care. Deed of ownership was provided by the auction house on completion of the sale so legally the medals were then the possession of my friend. Fast forward a few years. There was a commemorative service being held at Westminster Abbey in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen to honour surviving BoB veterans. My friend learned that the Sgt Pilot, although wheelchair bound by now, was going to attend the service. So, without telling anyone, he drove up to London, taking the medals with him ( a British style full medal bar) and met the surprised vet outside the Abbey. He pinned the medal bar onto his coat and so the vet could take his place among his former comrades-in-arms with pride. After the service, the medals were returned to my friend. I'm relating this story because it was a splendid gesture which illustrates why precious medals are sometimes sold by the family...and it also demonstrates the respect that collectors have for their artefacts and, above all,  their recipients.

 

 

Fantastic story Ian! One of the best. I am also sorry for the loss of your friend. He was no doubt a collector with high moral value and integrity!

 

JD 



#238 Carabinieri

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 01:49 PM

This is a complicated topic and has been on my mind with all the Veteran’s Day stories.  The history of collecting whether it be military items or Roman antiquities is fraught with good and bad players.  Ultimately in many instances it is the private collector that elevates the material in the marketplace which saves it from the trash.  If it were not for private collectors of Frank Lloyd Wright material, many of his houses would have been torn down in the 1960’s.  If the British Museum did not fund digs to Egypt in the late 19th/Early 20th Century much of this material would lost to the elements or looters.   The supply and demand market for military items will always drive unscrupulous people to do bad things.  Having said that, I do not think there are any collectors that would deny a living veteran the return of named truly stolen medal.    

 

What I find disheartening is view that you must be 100% in one camp or the other.  How many generations are collectors expected to trace.  If I find a revolutionary war canteen with a name on it, am I to present it to the great, great, great, great, grand whatever of the original owner?

 

We have laws to prohibit the sale of stolen property of all kinds.  Some families hold no connection to certain items and they can benefit from the funds the sale of this material might generate.  Without collectors this would not be possible.

 

It is always nice to hear about the one out of a thousand items that is returned to the rightful owner.  However, with all the chaos in the world it seems to me a bit much to devote all ones spare time to attempt to return medals to folks who may or may not want them or really know what to do with them.  I would love to see these efforts channeled into really helping living veterans with the basics, especially those who desperately need the help.



#239 Sabrejet

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 12:00 AM

I know they aren't US medals, but this is yet another example of potentially expensive medals (SAS)  being sold off by the family!

 

http://www.dailymail...eat-Rommel.html

 

 

 

article-2510742-1987D5B600000578-94_634x


Edited by Sabrejet, 21 November 2013 - 12:02 AM.


#240 cutiger83

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Posted 22 November 2013 - 09:01 AM

Every item has a story. Some were sold, some were traded, some were thrown out, some were lost. No one truly knows the history of every item in their collection. Some have traded many hands for many years. I like to focus on the positive rather than the negative. Here is a nice story about a ring.

 

http://www.npr.org/b...k-with-pows-son



#241 Wharfmaster

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Posted 22 November 2013 - 09:16 AM

I know they aren't US medals, but this is yet another example of potentially expensive medals (SAS)  being sold off by the family!
 
http://www.dailymail...eat-Rommel.html
 
 
 
article-2510742-1987D5B600000578-94_634x


A WW2 DCM to the SAS is very scarce. I would not be surprised if it went for twice the estimate. You can see why people are tempted to sell.



W

#242 cutiger83

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 12:07 PM

I spent the weekend helping one of my closest friends and her husband clean up his parent’s house. After his mother’s death, his father married a woman who was a gold-digger. She talked her new husband into redoing his will so she got everything but the four walls of the house. When his father passed away, she completely cleaned out the house and trashed the house. Literally ALL of the family heirlooms are gone even his mother’s items.  His father was a D-Day veteran. To see the devastation done to this family ripped my heart right out of my chest. They hired lawyers and fought but nothing could be done.

 

Every family has a story. Don’t judge anyone for looking for family heirlooms until you know the entire story.

 

...Kat
 



#243 manayunkman

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 12:25 PM

Too bad.

 

Happened twice in my family.

 

By accident they hired my cousin who was in the moving business and he had the honor of moving all Opa's stuff from his old house to the new wife's ( now widow) son's house.

 

Everyone lost their inheritance. 

 

No one did anything illegal and she ended up with a small fortune.

 

Things come and go in life.

 

I've had to let go of a lot of things and it has kept me sane.



#244 MasonK

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 01:20 PM

A recent success story. I picked up an unnamed medal grouping a couple years ago. Only provenance was a newspaper article attributing the medal to an African American who served in the 366 IR, 92nd ID. He initially trained to be a Tuskagee Airman however was called up to ship to Italy with Infantry. While in Italy, he was wounded. I later learned from his son the circumstances of his wounds, which is quite compelling.Links further below.

 

Details of the grouping can be found below:

 

http://www.usmilitar...albert-h-price/

 

Through that thread, I was contacted by a friend of the son of the veteran. He was looking to reclaim the medals for the family, who was unaware they were found. We took the discussion off of the forum. He confirmed through the granddaughter of the vet that the medals were in fact her grandfathers. This was a concern of mine as the only link was the article, which could have easily been added. They were "lost" (unsure of details) during the disposition of the vet's estate.

 

Long story short, I sent the medals to the friend of the family who in turn gave them to the family on Easter Sunday. In all honesty, however, I did request I be reimbursed what I paid for the medals, which the friend gladly agreed to.

 

Skip a head to a little over a month later, and I received this note from the son of the vet:

 

Eric,

 

First, I want to say that I owe you a debt of gratitude for your extremely respectful treatment of my father’s legacy. Your interest in this part of America’s history is, clearly, of tremendous value to our society. The proof: But for your genuine interest and effort, those medals might have languished in that storefront or, worse, in someone’s basement, objects of mild curiosity to a few, lost to a larger audience greatly interested in this seminal period of U.S. history. Without question, they would have been lost to our family for good. Your search for additional information about my father, and your posting what you found in so professional and courteous a manner was extremely reassuring.  The respectful treatment of the accomplishments of African-Americans was (and remains) something not guaranteed,  as you may recall from my father’s obituary in the Boston Globe (which you thoughtfully included in your U.S. Militaria Forum posting).  While I was filled with dread when we first realized that you posting was, in fact, my father, I experienced an equal amount of relief and joy to see the care and sensitivity reflected in your work.

 

Second, I want to thank you for responding in so honorable a manner to my dear and lifelong friend, Bill. I’m sure you easily recognized in Bill a friend of extraordinary qualities. My father certainly did and, while likely not surprised at all by the generosity of this friend, he would have been very proud and impressed.  My father would have also appreciated your being so straight-forward, reasonable and upright in accommodating our goal of securing the safe return of these lost pieces of family history.  While he was extremely circumspect about his combat experience, and regularly focused his anecdotes on the more ordinary aspects of his relationships with his fellow soldiers and their wartime experience, a delayed public acknowledgement of a fellow officer’s bravery provided us with new and enlightening details of the battle in which he was wounded.   

 

With apologies for the brevity of this bit of history (I, like Bill, am in the middle of a very challenging and busy stretch), I thought you might appreciate knowing the following, and having a couple of links to details that I believe you will appreciate.

 

In short, my father was in command of one of two platoons that were positioned in the town of Sommocolonia, Italy on Christmas 1944. He was involved in a surprise attack by Italian and German soldiers who, dressed in civilian clothes, had infiltrated the mountaintop town during at attacked during Christmas night. By the morning of December 26th, most of the men in both platoons had been killed and my father had been badly wounded by bullets or grenade fragments, he never knew which. (The evidence of significant multiple wounds was clear.)  It was close-quarters fighting that was hand-to-hand for some. What happened next is documented well in the citation for Lt. John Fox, a fellow officer in the 366th.  (Please see the link below.) My father, suffice to say, survived the three days it took to carry him down the mountains from the front lines to a field hospital.  

 

http://www.history.a...h/mohb.html#FOX

 

http://www.cmohs.org.../fox-john-r.php

 

http://en.wikipedia....(United_States)

 

Again, please accept my sincere and heartfelt thanks for how you have handled the discovery, retrieval, exposition and return of my father’s wartime medals.  I wish you the best.

 

 

 

 

 



#245 GIKyle

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 02:04 PM

Mason- your story highlights exactly what can be accomplished when both parties have a genuine discussion about the items in question and are not presumptuous about the motivations of the other party. Thank you for sharing this story with a good ending!

Kyle

#246 vintageproductions

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 02:23 PM

That is a great response and follow-up from the family.



#247 Wharfmaster

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Posted 24 March 2015 - 06:39 AM

Is it me, or has there been an upsurge in "family inquiries" on the forum recently?  :o

 

It would appear so.

 

 

 

 

 

Wharf
 



#248 Old Sarge

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Posted 26 March 2015 - 04:06 PM

I guess it would all depend on how the individual presented their case to me.  I would probably work with them after my own experience, my Great-Uncle traded a P-38 he picked up in North Africa in 1943 to my Uncle.  In 1978, my Uncle got in a tight and "pawned" the pistol to a so called friend.  When he got the money to pay the guy, he refused to let him get it back.  We live in a small town so I knew who the guy was and had tried to buy the pistol several times after I got older.  I have to say he was real a-hole about it, even though I offered well above fair value for it.  Then one day in 2004 out of the blue he called me to say there was a mint condition P-38 at a local shop he would be willing to trade for.  So I went down and ponied up a high price for it.  He refused to do the paperwork on it, really acted up in front of everybody, but I bit my lip and went through with it.  I really wanted the pistol back in the family.  It wasn't in anywhere near the condition of the one I traded for it, but that didn't matter to me.  I came away with a pretty poor opinion of the man, but when I showed it to my Father, he made a good point.  At least it had been cared for and you knew where it was all these years.   If someone really wants an heirloom back, price won't matter.   



#249 bunkerhillburning

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Posted 26 March 2015 - 04:49 PM

I recently sold a Canadian medal, named, from WWI.

 

Once the sale was finished, paid, shipped and received the buyer insisted on knowing where I had purchased the medal. I had no idea - none. I've been buying, selling, collecting for so many years I had no clue. I've tons of material where I haven't any recollection where I bought the material.  Stuff still in storage for years.

 

Auctions, flea markets, estate sales, antique shows of every variety, private sales and on and on.

 

Come to find out he wanted to know in case the family came calling on him about the medal!    Well, good luck on that one, Charlie.



#250 439th Signal Battalion

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Posted 11 April 2015 - 02:40 AM

I just had my first encounter with this kind of situation.

 

Years ago, I purchased a single 5x8 image on ebay ($5) of a soldier who was in the same platoon/company with my grandfather during World War II.  He had apparently had this picture taken of himself while in Naples or perhaps Rome, inscribing his name and unit designation on the reverse.

 

I then scanned and inserted it on a webpage that I have about the unit and never thought anything more of it until two months ago when I got an email from the grandson stating that it was his grandfather, the family had visited the webpage and wanted to know where/how it came into my possession.  (The tone in the email and inquiry I received was never aggressive or inflammatory but rather inquisitive and curious).

 

Knowing that this is only a single photograph and that I had already scanned it, I gladly returned it to the family. 

 

Mailed out, over and forgotten.  However...and although I may be being picky and old-fashioned here...a SINGLE THANK YOU or a REPLY from the family stating that I/we received the image would have been very nice from their end.

 

Should this happen in the future with items of a more valuable stature (and depending on the situation) I would use some of the cautionary suggestions that some of the other forum members have shared.  I also I think that unless one is conducting general research on an individual, it is always a good idea to be bit vague on the names and ID's on some of the large groupings or uniforms that forum members acquire for this very reason.


Edited by 439th Signal Battalion, 11 April 2015 - 02:44 AM.



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