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Grave robbers


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I hate these guys. The ones who scour the obits and then contact the families saying they are looking to preserve military history and will take care of any military items from the deceased to make sure their service is remembered. Which generally means they get stuck in the “museum” of the solicitor until they feel like selling it off.

 

In dealing with a VA pension for my mom, I started talking to a non-profit that helps the elderly navigate the paperwork maze of the Government. They run into this a lot apparently, and it never crossed their minds that if someone has a “private museum” there is no oversight as to what happens to the material.

 

My advice was to either sell the material outright for what it is worth, or to only donate material to an institution that has a clear donation policy with some continuity of ownership so if they go under the material has to be given (not sold) to either a specified organization (like the National Army Museum), or returned to the family.

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I've run into something similar with my own elderly uncle who is now 89 and lives in Florida. There is a local college professor who runs the same type "con". He apparently takes the time and comes in and does the big schmooze. In his version of the con and with the scholarly approach, he told my uncle that he is going to a write a book on the topic and it would be helpful to have some of his memorabilia which he can use to help sell the book and honor his memory. What rubbish!

I told my uncle about my concerns but my uncle thinks I'm the one that is making up stories and being selfish! It caused a bit of friction between us. I ended up having to back off the subject entirely with him.

Kim

A member of this fine site since December 16, 2006....Member # 60

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willysmb44

Make no mistake gents, there are people on this forum that I have known personally who have either done this or are doing it still. I won't name names, but I've watched a couple of them do it with my own eyes.

:thumbdown:

Lee Bishop Formerly known as "Ratchet 5" with the 2nd Infantry Division (yes, in REAL life)

US WW2 War Correspondent collector

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Make no mistake gents, there are people on this forum that I have known personally who have either done this or are doing it still. I won't name names, but I've watched a couple of them do it with my own eyes.

:thumbdown:

... the dark side :crying:

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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there is a Vietnam museum that asks for donations and I see him reselling the donated items at gun shows / militaria shows.

 

he's really a collector and a militaria dealer but he uses the museum as a front to get free donations from families of the vets

 

I agree it's better to sell than to donate to somebody asking for donations for a museum

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What a lot of people never think of, is what is going to happen to the stuff when the guy decides to "close down" his musuem. Which is why IF you think of giving to someone's "museum" you should make it a restricted gift in that if the facility ever closes down or decides to get rid of your material it whould either be returned to your family, or given to a place you specifiy.

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I always tell people that, if they are considering donating family heirlooms to a museum to ask (demand) a contract specifying that the items are on "permanent loan" to the museum but remain the property of the party donating. If the museum would shut down the items must be returned to the donating party. Even 110% honest museums will sell off donated stuff if it is superfluous to their needs and they can use the money to buy stuff they want for their display. Having a permanent loan contract prevents this plus tells the person donating the items that the museum really wants them for their display.

 

Tom

 

PS Our group also tells people to NEVER donate Uncle Harvy's WWII uniform (or whatever) to the Smithsonian, the AF Museum, etc., etc., as they already have umpteen thousands of them and will just stick it in some warehouse to remain buried there forever. They should check around for local historical societies, VFW/Legion museums, etc.

**PLEASE NOTE: THIS COMMUNITY MEMBER HAS SADLY PASSED AWAY**

 

 

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What most people don't realize is that when you donate an item, you also donate ownership!

This means that a museum or who ever gets the specific item(s) can do with it what ever they want!!!!

 

It is the basic principal that people want to believe that their item is safe in a museum!

 

Best way is what Sgt Brown wrote....a contract that specific tells that the item is on loan!

This way the owner or his / her family will always keep ownership and the museum, writter or what ever, can't do a thing with out permission!

If they still do it, it is fraude and theft!

 

I also got gifts in the past and I always specificly ask what i must do with the item when I stop with collecting or when I all ready have a similar item.

Most time the donaters don't mind if I trade or sell it for something I don't own yet.

But they appriaciate the honesty and I can keep walking around with my head up, knowing that I haven't done something wrong and have there permission!

 

My 2 cents!

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shrapneldude

One of these vultures harassed my Mother-in-law following the death of her husband several years ago, in much the same way, and it is a pretty shameful practice. Some of the collectors will say that's the only way to prevent the widows / grandchildren from tossing the stuff in a trashcan, but that's their choice do sell, donate, or destroy whatever they want, and to step in and mislead a grieving family into handing over stuff to a "museum" is pretty despicable business in my book.

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after my grandfather died some piece of crap came and told my grandmother she wasn't allowed to keep his guns and she needs to sell them to him! I never found out who it was but he didn't get the guns, it just made me sick.

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On one hand- you should get some astounding fake stuff and give it to the dealer- then wait until he is selling the amazing original material and bring out the a black light so it lights up saying "this guy is ripping off vets."

 

But just becasue you give something to a museum or collector does not legally mean a transfer of ownership. You have to sign it over to someone (normally called a deed of gift). I have helped people recover stuff from musuems that had taken things in for some reason, such as a display, and not returned them.

 

Most places will not accept a restricted deed of gift (meaning they can't sell it or whatever). But I disagree on not sending things to the major museums. There are actually many many gaps in the Army's collection, and they will need even more as the National Museum gets built. In the past thgins did "go missing" in the govt system, but the new computerized inventory pretty much put a stop to that.

 

The thing is to find a place that the item is appropriate for. You need to figure out what it is, what historical value there is to it, and then what locations there might be that it is appropriate for. I know a local historical society that has some good Canadian WW1 uniforms that ended up in the collection because someone's daughter moved tot own years ago and had no use for them. Of course my plea to move them out of local storage and try and find a good home for them in Canada is unheard as "then we won't have them"

 

I know all too well (sorting my mom's stuff out now) what it is like when you are trying to get rid of things. You sometimes just want a good home for the stuff. But what I am opposed to is guys who beg for it with the sole intention of selling it off.

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