Interesting topic ... pretty easy answer for me ...
If someone comes calling that can show me they are a family member, understand something about their relative's service, seem truly interested in the history behind the item, and appreciate that someone took care of it for the time it was in my collection .... then I "return" it. Never for a profit, since I know what I paid.
Possiblity of getting fooled and burned ... always. Could it end up on Ebay later that week .... again, very possible. In the end, I didn't earn the award, and I didn't wear the item in service. I don't collect for investment purposes; I do it because I enjoy the history around the stuff.
And most importantly, I refuse to let a few dishonest people impact my moral compass.
That sounds like an excellent method to me, Tim. If presented with a similar situation, I believe I would act in the same manner. As to how families 'lose' militaria I can provide a case in point: my Dad was a Naval Officer in WWII. I was born just at the end of hostilities. When I was about 5 years old my Mother gave away my Dad's mess dress whites, his sword, and several other uniform items. No particular reason: it was just stuff that was cluttering up the house in her opinion. I know this because years later, after my Dad had died, my Mother told me this. One of my older sister's also confirms this account.
After my Dad's death I did receive his medals, a cap badge, a set of Lt. Commander shoulder boards, and a special issue passport ... that's it, the rest was 'given away.' I'm not sure how the medals, etc. 'survived.'
I don't believe any of this militaria/family history had any personal identifiers, with one exception: his dog tags. Yes, she even gave away his dog tags. So, it's all just "out there" somewhere.
What rights do I have to any of those given away items: absolutely none. And, if those dog tags turned up I would still have no claim on them. My Mother thoughtlessly gave them away. So, that is how military items important to one member of the family (me) end up out there.
Edited by Cobra 6 Actual, 18 September 2015 - 01:39 PM.