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Tracking/Inventoring Ones's Collection


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I'm not sure if this is the best place to put this question, so if there is a better place, would the Moderators please move it?

 

I know that many of the folks that collect and/or acquire militaria sometimes lose track of their pieces. I know that I occasionally find something that I didn't know I had when I've gone through some boxes I haven't looked at in a while. There is also the question of insurance and the queries of my significant other as to how much stuff I have and how much is it worth. At this point my tracking consist of writing on the top lid of the box everything that's in it, and a spreadsheet that list my milsurp firearms with info on when bought/cost of acquisition/etc. There are still many items that aren't tracked, like my helmets, field jackets, and items that don't fit in a box.

 

Has anyone tried using bar coded tags attached to their items and linked to a spreadsheet or other software which explains what it is and what it's worth?

 

If so, could they relate their experience, what scanner/software was used, etc., and also provide some insight as to whether this is a worthwhile endeavor or a huge waste of time.

 

Thanks.

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My system for tracking my headgear/hat collection (302 and counting) is 2 parts; an excel spreadsheet (item inventory #, description and size, purchase place, date, and price), and a paper hanging tag on the item (either pinned inside, hanging on the left side button on a visor cap, or taped to the inside crown of a helmet shell).

 

For instance:

Spreadsheet entry

US302 / WW2 USA 7 FUR FELT CRUSHER, DOBBS, WARE PRATT CO / EBAY 11/08/2016 $25.00

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Tagged with the same number and a brief description (in case the tag falls off, I can figure out which hat it goes to without having to cross-reference the number).

 

When it comes time to sell something, I can see how long I've had it, where I got it, and what I paid. That's my way of doing it.

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I usually tag everything. I don't itemize as the list would be too big :wacko: .

Also some insurance may want pictures of the items.

Best ABN

California

 

"Only 2 defining forces have ever offered to die for you....Jesus Christ and the American Soldier.

One died for your soul, the other for your freedom."

 

-Lt. Col. Grant L. Rosensteel, Jr.

USAF

 

''A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have.'' Gerald Ford

 

"Those who melt their guns into plows will plow for those who don't." Thomas Jefferson

 

"I live in weirdville." Owen

 

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Not intending to be a "Luddite" in any way, and while very much appreciating the innumerable advances that electronic technology has brought us all - as a general practice it is a prudent idea to use handmade string tags or some other affixed label for each artifact - as backup if nothing else.

 

It can come to pass that, as collections inevitably grow, a collector can begin spending more time documenting and tracking their artifacts than appreciating, studying and preserving them.

HONORING FAMILY LtCol Wm Russell (1679-1757) VA Mil; Pvt Zachariah McKay (1714-97) Frederick VA Mil; BrigGen Evan Shelby, Jr (1719-94) VA Mil; Pvt Vincent Hobbs (1722-1808) Wythe VA Mil; Pvt Hugh Alexander (1724-77); Lt John R. Litton (1726-1804); Bvt BrigGen/Col Wm W. Russell (1735-93) 5th VA Rgmt; Lt James Scott (1736-1817); Capt John Murray, Sr (1747-1833); Capt John Sehorn, Sr (1748-1831) VA Mil; Pvt Corbin Lane (1750-1816) Franklin/TN Mil; Cpl Jesse D. Reynolds (1750-1836) 5th VA Rgmt; Capt. Solomon C. Litton (1751-1844); 1Lt Christopher Casey (1754-1840) SC Mil; Pvt Mark Adams (1755-1828); Pvt Randolph White (1755-1831) Bailey's Co. VA Rgmt; Capt. John R. Russell (1758-1838); Pvt Joseph T. Cooley (1767-1826) Fort Hempstead Mil; Pvt Thomas Barron (1776-1863) 1812; Capt. John Baumgardner (1787-1853) VA Mil; Pvt Joel Estep (1828-1864) Co B 5th KY Inf CSA & US; Pvt George B. Bell (1833-1910) Co C 47th IL Inf US; Cpl Daniel H. Barron (1838-1910) Co B 19th TN Rgmt Inf CSA; Capt Richard K. Kaufman (1908-1946) 7th PRG/3rd AF CCU; T-5 Vernon L. Bell (1926-95) 1802nd Spec Rgmt; PO2 Murray J. Heichman (1932-2019) HQSB/MCRD; PFC Jess Long (1934-2017) US Army; PFC Donald W. Johnson (1931-) 43rd ID HQ; A1C Keith W. Bell (1931-2011) 314th TCW; A3C Michael S. Bell (1946-) 3346th CMS; A1C Sam W. Lee (1954-2017) 2d BW; AW3 Keith J. Price (1975-) VP-10; 1Lt Matthew Wm Bell (1985-) 82nd Abn/SOC








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Not intending to be a "Luddite" in any way, and while very much appreciating the innumerable advances that electronic technology has brought us all - as a general practice it is a prudent idea to use handmade string tags or some other affixed label for each artifact - as backup if nothing else.

 

It can come to pass that, as collections inevitably grow, a collector can begin spending more time documenting and tracking their artifacts than appreciating, studying and preserving them.

 

I completely agree, technology is great, until it locks up, freezes, crashes and you lose everything. Paper tags don't do that. Walmart sells these in office supplies for about $2.

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We also use plain old tags from Gaylord. If something is not tagable we very discreetly paint the number on with special paint. With paper items we lightly write the catalog number on in #2 pencil, generally inside the back cover if it's a book. Also everything is cataloged in a piece of software for museums called Past Perfect. I have found that cataloging a collection is not for "me," it's for those that come after me. After 4 years working in the archives (even just 1 day a week) I do pretty much know where everything is. But the next guy/girl won't, so the catalog, all the pictures and the tags are for them. It's very annoying when you go to swap out an exhibit and find that absolutely nothing on display has been tagged or cataloged, so I have to add it all to the collection without knowing any of the provenance. (Dirty secret - some of my predecessors, from say 20 years ago, didn't care so much for the details of museum work.) That's not going to happen again if I can help it.

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  • 2 years later...

Oh, this is a fun topic for someone with OCD, lol. I keep track of everything on dual electronic spreadsheet and a set of index cards in drawers. I keep what I call the Buy Book, which is a chronological record of purchases with brief descriptions, who, where, when, and how much. Then, there is a composition book that is in the same order with a better description, the item number, and buy number.

The buy number is YEAR- (2 letter country code)- (letter/s denoting service)# (in order for the year).

The item number is 11 characters long. Three letters for the country, two letters for the service, # for the class (0- Ephemera, 4- Medals, 9- Vehicular, meaning a letter from a general to a senator would be a 0 and bookends made from Spitfire gauges are 9), letter for category within class (P- Maps, K- Letters, R- Newspapers), ### from 000 to 999 for the individual item type, and a lowercase letter for the specific item. USAAR4D000 is an Army Good Conduct Medal Ribbon, while USAAR4D000a is specifically a Wolf-Brown plastic coated version of that ribbon.

That number stays on a sticker or tag on the item or the sleeve it is in. It also goes on what I store it in in some cases. Caps have their own tub, so it has a label with the number and description on it.

The index card (or cards, if I get a lot of good detail on it) has the description and item on the top line and a small purchase blurb (in red) on the back right corner that includes the Buy Number- tying it to the original purchase. The content varies on the type of item.

Sounds complicated, but, one- OCD, two- I intend to be collecting for another 50 yrs and it gives me room to grow with the piece of mind that I mostly have things accounted for, and, three- I spend time with each piece, studying it as a general topic and my specific examples while making a card.

I also create cards with information on manufacturers, units, people, etc. to have on hand to help date or validate something. "When did X use that hallmark and what do I have I can compare it with?"

Now, off to the trio of cards I've been banging my head over since Monday. WB is a beast to research.

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Life, is good! :P

When libraries got rid of their old card catalogues and museums did the same, I wept (to myself, silently).

EVERY single original archival hand-made notation or mark or stamp that had ever been done by anyone for any book in their collections, largely disappeared forever, that day.

SOME libraries (and museums) have retained those antique card cataloguing methods, but in forgotten deep storage places taking up "Too much space" > in favor of "information."



HONORING FAMILY LtCol Wm Russell (1679-1757) VA Mil; Pvt Zachariah McKay (1714-97) Frederick VA Mil; BrigGen Evan Shelby, Jr (1719-94) VA Mil; Pvt Vincent Hobbs (1722-1808) Wythe VA Mil; Pvt Hugh Alexander (1724-77); Lt John R. Litton (1726-1804); Bvt BrigGen/Col Wm W. Russell (1735-93) 5th VA Rgmt; Lt James Scott (1736-1817); Capt John Murray, Sr (1747-1833); Capt John Sehorn, Sr (1748-1831) VA Mil; Pvt Corbin Lane (1750-1816) Franklin/TN Mil; Cpl Jesse D. Reynolds (1750-1836) 5th VA Rgmt; Capt. Solomon C. Litton (1751-1844); 1Lt Christopher Casey (1754-1840) SC Mil; Pvt Mark Adams (1755-1828); Pvt Randolph White (1755-1831) Bailey's Co. VA Rgmt; Capt. John R. Russell (1758-1838); Pvt Joseph T. Cooley (1767-1826) Fort Hempstead Mil; Pvt Thomas Barron (1776-1863) 1812; Capt. John Baumgardner (1787-1853) VA Mil; Pvt Joel Estep (1828-1864) Co B 5th KY Inf CSA & US; Pvt George B. Bell (1833-1910) Co C 47th IL Inf US; Cpl Daniel H. Barron (1838-1910) Co B 19th TN Rgmt Inf CSA; Capt Richard K. Kaufman (1908-1946) 7th PRG/3rd AF CCU; T-5 Vernon L. Bell (1926-95) 1802nd Spec Rgmt; PO2 Murray J. Heichman (1932-2019) HQSB/MCRD; PFC Jess Long (1934-2017) US Army; PFC Donald W. Johnson (1931-) 43rd ID HQ; A1C Keith W. Bell (1931-2011) 314th TCW; A3C Michael S. Bell (1946-) 3346th CMS; A1C Sam W. Lee (1954-2017) 2d BW; AW3 Keith J. Price (1975-) VP-10; 1Lt Matthew Wm Bell (1985-) 82nd Abn/SOC








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