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oakleaf777

USMC Iwo Jima vet uniforms

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Fellow collectors-

 

I live next door to a USMC Iwo Jima vet who is well into his 90s. I am in regular contact with his adult children who help keep up his house and yard. I was shown his WW2 medals , which are mounted in a shadow box display, and are to be left to the oldest grandson. When I Asked what was to become of the vets uniforms, I was told they were going to be donated to the costume department of the theatre group from the local college. I volunteered that I thought these uniforms might have some value to USMC WW2 collectors, and should not be donated to a college theatre prop department. I have not seen any of these uniforms, But would assume them to be in excellent condition based on the veteran, and his meticulous. Thanks j

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That story sounds familar too me, I had the same experence. I knew a lady whos husband was a retired Major General, As much as I told her donating his uniforms to a theater group was almost disrespectful. I told her that they deserved better care. As far as I know that's what happened too them as she was in her 80's then. He was in WW2 N. Africa WIA. II Corps. She was a Lt. Army nurse he was a Sgt. (then) They eventually married. She gave me a set of his subdued stars a II corps patch and her Lt. Bar. I still have. Its a shame what happens to this stuff as it will be modified, cut up and on the floor somewhere. I have seen it as I took some theater years ago, stuffed into boxes neglected or thrown out down the road. Good luck trying to preserve it. It still bothers me to this day. There were many foot lockers...he saved everything.



Pvt. James H. Honey 1st Md. Eastern shore Vol. Inf. Co. D (union) Gettysburg
Pvt. George Eddie Lear 26th Inf. Co.H 1st Div .(WW1) P.H. WIA Cpl. Richard Elsea 268th C.A. Bn. Battery A. WW2 SSgt. Grant Elsea 314th Inf. Hq.Co. I.R.79thDiv. WW2
Cpl. Harry Lawrence Butler Jr 23rd Regt. WIA Korea Lt. George Olin Tilghman 111th MG. 29th Div. WW1 DIS France 1919
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At the end of the day, it is up to the family to do with these items what they wish. If not ethical, I believe there is moral ground in play here. It is sort of like grousing when a seller breaks a group up - it is theirs to do with as they prefer. It bothers me a bit when I hear dealers, collectors, etc, trying to steer what (especially) a family does with items. To me, that is you trying to get the outcome YOU want. Believe me when I tell you, Ive heard the museum donation, theater group, etc, plan dozens of time. Actually heard the museum one last Sunday, from the widow of a Korean War Marine. My response, is to tell them to do whatever makes them most comfortable.

 

Believe me, I cringe sometimes. I know that most museums are not going to display whatever it is - like a stripped Ike jacket. Its going to sit in a box until it gets deaccessioned, or whatever.

 

I am not trying to sound like Prince Valiant, but rather to make sure I stay on the right side of the proverbial line. Because there are very thin gaps between trying to protect a family, and trying to get something for yourself.

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I guess what I am trying to determine is, do such uniforms have any significant collectors value which would make it worth their while to hang on to them and sell them to a reputable militaria dealer instead of donating them to the costume department?

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BTW, I am not looking to get these uniforms for myself, as I dont collect USMC stuff, however, it seems as if from what I see on these boards that there is a lot of interest in Iwo Jima related items among USMC collectors.

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I understand what you are saying.

 

My point is, not everybody defines value as money.

 

The comfort that they have done with an item what most honors their loved one may mean more to them than money.

 

Who knows, maybe the Marine in question really enjoyed the local theater, and it would make him happy to know his stuff went there.

 

Whether anybody else, including us, agrees is immaterial. Say the uniforms do end up going to a collector? How long before that person decides to get out of the hobby, dies, etc. Then they go to a theater company? Yard sale? Landfill?

 

Sorry, I dont mean to derail your topic, but I think the answer is obvious. Yes, Iwo items are very collectible. Determining how much money they are worth will require pictures and identification.

 

I guess what I am trying to determine is, do such uniforms have any significant collectors value which would make it worth their while to hang on to them and sell them to a reputable militaria dealer instead of donating them to the costume department?

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Thanks for your insight. The vets family are practical people and would probably be glad to put the uniforms up for sale if there was significant collectors value. I guess the point I was trying to get at was -is there significant collectors value to uniforms belonging to a USMC Iwo vet, making it worthwhile to pursue researching their value further? I assumed they would be quite valuable, but I am surprised at how often I am mistaken in my opinions as to what is valuable, and what is not. Thanks again for your input

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I appreciate that, as these can also be conversations where the family just assumes they are worthless. Pics or some description of what they are would get you some good starting info. But in short, yes - I cannot imagine there would not be collector interest. Actually, you probably are already getting PMs. :)

 

 

Thanks for your insight. The vets family are practical people and would probably be glad to put the uniforms up for sale if there was significant collectors value. I guess the point I was trying to get at was -is there significant collectors value to uniforms belonging to a USMC Iwo vet, making it worthwhile to pursue researching their value further? I assumed they would be quite valuable, but I am surprised at how often I am mistaken in my opinions as to what is valuable, and what is not. Thanks again for your input

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Well, you may not be steering the family toward a "desired outcome" or whatever, but sometimes people simply don't realize there are additional options to whatever their first thought might be. Sometimes they never considered that people might even like to buy the items, or that something going to a museum might never see the light of day, or that the uniforms in a theater department might get all the patches chopped off or additional things sewn on. It's perfectly acceptable to tell people that other avenues exist, give them the information, and then let them choose.


In memory of Dr. Leo P. Krall, USPHS
USS Uniontown (PF-65)

Interested in uniforms / groupings from Massachusetts and New England veterans

(particularly 26th "Yankee" Division), and original propaganda leaflets from WWI and WWII.

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This is an interesting post. What I have seen is that these theater organizations (or charity organizations) are the last resort. Many families have no knowledge of the "collecting" world and just don't want to throw the items away making these places the logical choice. In my neck of the woods, the main museum and the local "military museum" have begun a zero acquisition policy in regards to uniforms unless they deem them to be "super rare." The acquisition staff has been directed to tell donors that they are not taking uniforms due to their lack of significance and that the donor should look at giving them to either the local college or community theater or to Goodwill. I find this to be understandable regarding a uniform that is nothing more than a blank IKE jacket with zero history (for example...we found it in the closet and think it belonged to an Uncle). However, it always amazes me that the people who are in the position of making these particular decisions have little or no knowledge of military memorabilia. Even the local military museum have acquisition people who don't know the difference between a Marine Corps dress uniform and a Army Class A uniform. I have personally seen items that have been turned down and they were quite significant. Let me finish this post by stating that this information is not coming to me third hand. I have had direct involvement in these situations but unfortunately do not have the power to change them. I should also add that the various museums will NOT direct individuals to private collectors period - per policy!

On that note...I am someone that used to be timid when it came to asking to acquire items from the family but that has changed. I have been involved in to many instances where the family is amazed I would be interested in their relatives items. They are even more shocked when I offer to pay for them and often times dig more things out of the woodwork to complete their veterans story!


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Bill Shea acquired some of Rommels uniforms from a small town theater company.

 

Kurt


My hobby is my job and my job is my hobby. High School and University History Instructor

 

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