We all buy militaria from a variety of places, including shops. After the good, bad and ugly experiences, I have decided to start documenting them on here for the world to see as a guild on where to go, what they stock, how you may get treated and how wild the prices maybe.
So, the reviews, bad and good will be typed in full as I visit various places shown on the left of this page. The scoreboard is on the right, which composes of various things. My total score 50max! / Name of dealer / customer service 1-10 / variety of stock 1-it is just 1 type of items, like medals or is it a (10) mixed bag of everything / Prices (*haggles) 10=Excellent, 7=Good, 5=Fair, 3=High, & 1=hahaha / PRICED one of my pet hates! Sometimes you don't want to ask the price of everything you may want to buy, just price your items! People are more likely to buy them if they have prices... oh and if you do price them, make sure the price is facing UP! 10=everything / 1=nothing priced / attitude/personality now you may think this is close to to customer service, but you can service me and be as miserable as sin, never break a smile and still strike a good deal with barely uttering more than grunts. Hardly a pleasing experience, this is about how human someone is, do they talk about what you collect, are they interested, did I leave feeling good about going in and talking with them? 10=I know what they collect, they know what I collect, I have promised to help them solve a problem they have, they are going to email me something to help me with something 1=I don't care if they collect dead people and are eaten alive on the tube. Bare in mind these are all my experiences, this is only a guide and if the people who treat me nicely are dicks to you, its probably your fault ;) or they deep down knew that I would write this website one day. The experience of buying the militaria is important as
adding the items into my collection...
London Medal Co.
RockSteady Militaria (Bas)
Old Patriot Militaria
Herts & Daggers
/ 9 / 9 / 9* / 10 / 10
/ 9 / 10 / 8 / 10 / 10
/ 9 / 8 / 7* / 10 / 10
/ 9 / 8 / 10*/ 7 / 10
/10/ 3 / 10 / 10 / 10
/ 8 / 7 / 7 / 9 / 8
/ 9 / 7 / 7* / 5 / 9
/ 8 / 7 / 8* / 3 / 8
/ 1 / 7 / 6 / 2 / 1
/ x / x / x / x / x
Now for those of you who know me, will know that I have very strong emotions. I either love you or hate you, barely ever is there any middle ground. Unless I haven't fathomed you out yet, your in a sort of Dan-land-limbo. So what has made me decided to write this I can hear you all think. This maybe all me, but have you ever walked into a militaria shop, antiques show etc and felt like the second the door closed behind you that all the staff are staring at you and casting aspersions on what you can afford and why you are in their realm where they reign supreme? Without sounding ageist, but this tends to happen more with the older generation of dealers. Of course I have never had much of a disposable income to spend on my collections (however things have changed slightly now-a-days) but for all they know I would spend every last £1 I have buying what I want from their stock. Some dealers have simply ignored me at shows when I actually wanted to buy items, yet older chaps in a smart suit always get treated like a king; then almost always walk away without purchasing anything. I have been experiencing this since I was a teenager and started collecting, however now in my mid to late 30's I thought this sort of non-sense might stop...
If I ever go into a militaria shop, first thing, great the owner, nothing fancy, a friendly smile and a "hello". Depending on the shop I may ask if they have specific items, for example I will always anyone who stocks medals if they have any named Mackay/Mckay. Some people even respond with a really helpful "no idea" and offer no help. I hope this doesn't just all happen to me and this is all leaving you wondering what on earth I do to upset the world! Now I am drifting about from today's rant. There is a certain shop in London, I have been past it several times and always closed. Last year I was in London with a friend shopping and I popped in, to find a young chap in there who collectors and sells 'money', a nice lad, however! He is under the instruction from the militaria guy not to open any of the hundreds of cases of items, none of the boxes or folders of stock. He is 'allowed' to sell items in the window, but only if it has a price on it. Most don't.... I spent a fair amount of money on what he was allowed to sell me and got some pretty good bargain, he also isn't allowed to haggle, regardless if you buy a 1000 items and spent £10k! His lordship forbids it. I was in London again around last X-Mas time and popped in again... again the boss wasn't in, but brought a couple of bits from the limited window stock again. Saw so much that was interesting... but can't even get to it or look at it. So frustrating! Talk about turn away sales, I asked the young chap if he had ever asked if he could be trained to open boxes and sell things and if he sold them to maybe get a commission. Because, what system is in place now just doesn't work. No wonder he has so much stock in the shop. Unless you timetable you life around when he will be there you can't view it all. However, this never worried me too much until today. I was in London after chatting with some of the lovely folks at the BBC (yeah, I like them) and decided to have a quick look again as I was really close by. I had a good look in the window and saw yet again lots I was interested in. I walked in, you f***ing guessed. No bloke, just the young chap again. I asked to see a few bits in the window... everything I wanted had no price on it. I would have taken them right there and then. I asked about other items, no price or I wasn't allowed to see them. I brought 12 items, which was a struggle from what was available.
So at this point I had probable cashed out over £600 with this guy from his lower end stock over the few visits. The young chap who's name I really must get then says "the 'guy' should be in later if you want to pop back in an hour or so". I said "Oh yeah great, I will pop out, get some lunch as I was starving at this point and promised to pop back after. So I sat enjoyably eat a Burger King whilst watching a rather rotund policeman outside Leicester Square flapping his stubbly little arms at pigeons and tourists. After I had stopped laughing at Porky and finished my top quality grub I strolled back to the shop. Approaching it I can see a woman sat on a stool on the customer side of the counter and a guy sat on a short chair/stool which made him look a little like a garden gnome. The young chap smiled at me as I came in, knowing how long I had waited to be able to look through the stock and make relevant purchases. I said a friendly hello and said how many times I had popped into buy items. The reply was almost unfathomable... "I'm not really here now, so can't really help you!". I sort of did a little cough in disbelief and then did a little laugh! I do have to wonder if some dealers like selling items at all, or if there shop is actually an extension of their own collections but more available to public viewing. Which would make sense as for the lack of prices. I was handed a card with the website details on and told that the days he will and wont be there is on the website. He then said "what is it you want anyway?" I replied with "some of everything, I collect and buy a lot!". He then repeated the "well I'm not really here today, so can't help you". I did a prompt half turn and said "RIGHT, fair enough, [I] won't bother you any further, or try and spend any money" and left closing the door behind me. I felt absolutely baffled... he was clearly trying to wrap something up. However surely, it is more in his interest to stop that, sell items, then go back to it. Even if he had to stay an hour after he planned to be there? I walked away and go a bottle of Dr Pepper (healthy life style huh!) on the way back to the tube, whilst paying I found the card they had given me. On it, its gives the shop address and says if its a Monday to visit him at the famous (? never heard of it?) Jubilee Antiques Market on the Strand and then gives the opening times of the shop Monday - Saturday 9.30am - 5.00pm. Fails to mention that he will or won't be there and restrictions to sales because of thus.So Stephen Wheeler Medals... I am going to blacklist you. Every chance I get to slate you, I will; for what has to be the worst customer service of all time in all my years of militaria collecting. I'm sure your not worried, after all what difference does one person not liking you make... well lets see.
Now, although today's experiences with the above was the worst of all time, I did pop over to 'Angel' station and walked down to 'Herts & Daggers' who I had been meaning to visit for a long time. It was really easy to find and the front door open, which is always a nice welcoming start, a couple of other peeps looking around. I started looking over the stock that is almost all visible. The owner Lindsay was talking with another chap about bits and bobs, yet still found a pause in his conversation to ask if I was okay and needed and help or was looking for anything in particular. I said, I was okay for a minute, but would give him a shout with any questions. It's not a huge shop but there is a fair few items in there and like my own collection, its easy to miss items the first time round. I then spotted a gem at the back of a cabinet right at the back. I piped up and said "how much are you asking for the retired pilots badge" (I know right!), he smiled and fair play to him, said "its not a good un!". Disappointing to not get my hands on a real one, even if might have been to just look over and get the feel of an original one. Tip to all those wanting to get into the hobby. Feel, look and examine everything you see it fairs before you start buying and get caught out! Start by buying from good sellers until you are confident what is right and wrong. If your not a 100% sure, ask what returns policy they have if you believe something isn't 100% genuine. Lindsay then said that a load of items came in the other day and he pulled open a box of items. Last time this happened I ended up paying £2.25 for an officers SS collar tab! I didn't get this lucky this time though. There was a few interesting items, but lots of alternative examples of things I already had in my collection and didn't 'need' another of. However, there was a terrific Afrika Corps belt and buckle. Tab dated 1940, the buckle with a JFS marking and a period marking of 105 on the webbing belt itself. Probably a unit marking. As for which one, I have no idea, but shouldn't be too hard to fathom or at least narrow it down.Now, it's only fair that I add some of the dealers that I buy have brought from for years. The reason I have brought from them for so long is that from day one I was treated like a human, even when I was completely clueless, they were not only patient with my stupid questions and requests, but they also helped me learn the ways of collecting and taught me what to look out for with certain items. Most importantly in my own experiences has been John Brandon at Eagle Relics. I have had some great pieces that have always been right at the front of my collection. A lovely Third Reich NCO's Artillery cap and a E-Boat badge being a couple of my favs! Also, John really does get in some really weird and wonderful items, German wartime coffee, washing powder, Olympic 1936 winners wreath to name a few bits I have seen come and go. It certainly a great website to keep an eye on. Also the photographs he takes are always superb which is in itself a wonderful learning tool for the beginner. From day one, I warmed to John, not only was he helpful and friendly, but always did his best to strike a deal when I had a deal worthy of haggling. Of course, don't expect to by a £30 medal and get 25% just because you asked nicely!
Now some dealers you come across by luck! I always trawl EBay, despite and hazards and pitfalls of buying from there, you can get some gems at some fantastically low prices, even more so when people list them under the wrong categories and with poor descriptions. Like "some medals" under 'antiques'. Which was in fact a WW1 Iron Cross 1st class that sold for a mighty £16 to this lucky winner. Turn out to be completely original and as I wasn't interested in WW1 militaria back then, it was promptly sold on for a nice profit with the money being reinvested in something I did want. During one of the typical late night sessions of scanning through EBay very carefully I came across a load of WW1 US items and very low starting prices. So I viewed the sellers other items and he was selling a huge amount of very high end quality items. I clicked watch on everything that took my fancy, even if I didn't keep it I could also sell them on to recoup the money with some extra to pay for the items I would then keep. A few days later I started bidding to get my name on the board. I also emailed the seller asking him that I would potentially be winning a lot and he would have to ship them to the UK, as he was in America. He said, that it was no problem as he did it all the time and after a few different emails went back and forth he asked if I had seen his website. I actually didn't even know he was a business and was off loading a whole mountain of stock that he had to clear to get some space back. He gave me his website and trading name 'Advance Guard Militaria' or 'AGM' as they seem to be more commonly known as. I had a look over their website and sure enough they do have some very nice pieces, best of all is the time and care when photographing them. Beautifully done!
Days later when the auctions where getting to an end, the bidding went a bit wild and they almost all ended at the same time! Making it quite difficult to watch them all end. No doubt done on purpose to deter snipers and to make people put in proper bids, so I started putting in my maximum bids and found I was winning 99% of all the lots I was bidding on. My message box was soon full of "you have won ......" notifications. As it was very late in the morning due to the time difference I went to bed. I woke up to multiple message from AGM from a girl called Laura who was dealing with all the lots I had won. I did warn them I was going to win a lot and by heck I really did. I then wondered if I had gone a bit too mad, but nothing I could do about that now. She packed everything into two huge shipping boxes and let me know about the shipping. Even with all the taxes and shipping it was still well beyond what you would pay for all the militaria in the UK. So I was really onto a winner! The staff are all wonderful, I love the humour on the website in the rules and regulations, if you have never visited their website, have a look. Along with the great items, great photography is a great business ethic too. They save all the newly acquired items that will go up for sale and put them all on the website at a pre-determined date and time. Then it goes live, its the first to claim an item that can buy it. There are no exceptions to this. So its almost like a first through the doors at a militaria fair, a very interesting idea and it works. I too managed to grab some bargains when the last 'event' happened. I have brought from AGM a few times and every time they are a real pleasure to deal with. Of course, it really only becomes viable if you buy a few items as shipping does cost a fair bit from the US, but if you spread the cost over then it can be really worth while. You can always club together with a few others and split the postage and fees. Almost all of the WW1 US items I first purchased came from AGM and some of them are by far the best examples I have in my collection. Also another point I really need to mention is the packing of these items is second to none! Every item is carefully packed, even items that don't break and wrapped with such care. One of which is the 82nd Div tunic on the WW! US for sales section of this website, mainly as I needed to post something in that section and to be honest, I don't want anyone to buy it! So when I get time I will take that down and fill it full of items that are actually intended for sale.
Now the next dealer 'Old Patriot Militaria' also I found through EBay in pretty much the same way and again in the US, only this time I was just few items and not box loads! Although again once we got talking and swapped emails, it was clear that 'Dan' would also have a few more items that was due to be sorted to sell. So I got first pick so to speak which was a nice start. I gave him a rough idea of what I wanted and he went to work looking through boxes, trunks and loft spaces to find items I would be interested in. He sure earned his money I can tell you. Some items I wanted the second he described them, even before he sent over photos, other items where purchased after photos made me 'need' them and some items were passed over. Giving Dan the fun job of packing them all away again! However, we got along great and had lots in common and although there is now a long break between messages we still drop each other lines to check in. He even said I should come out to where he lives and stay in his condo for a while which over looks the beach! I may take him up on it one day. He went above and beyond finding me items that I wanted, not me looking through stock and I don't think that has ever happened before or since, some sellers won't even get off a chair to help you! So with the items ordered, the came packed superb packed in the same style as AGMs. Which was rather weird. Almost identical white plastic thin bags over the uniforms and items, same thick brown paper rolled around and over items. If I hadn't known I had brought it from Dan then I would have assumed it had come from AGM. I also received a few magnetic business cards, one of which is on my radiator in the kitchen. It was previously on the fridge, but now its built in we have a wooden door which is not very magnetic! Also, Dan put in a variety of smaller items for free which was a lovely surprise. The only downside to dealing with OPM is that they don't really advertise and its almost impossible to find them or what they have to offer. I just checked there EBay listings and only two items are visible, however both are fantastic pieces! Truly beautiful. So unless you stumble across Dan like I did then his stock that he seems to have squirrelled away could easily never enter your collection, a shame for both parties!
The 'London Medal Company', when I first walked in the shop I wondered if it was actually a museum, long rows of professional made glass cabinets stand over 6ft tall full of fantastic pieces. All be it secure, for those of us who like to pick up and examine it makes it difficult although I am sure that the guys in there would unlock and open the cabinets for you to view things. However, I would feel a little guilty to repeatedly get them to open cabinet after cabinet just for me to get my fix of handling things and learning from them as you do so. I do completely understand the need for the locks thought, the shop is a fair size and with so much stock and with a few customers lots of items could easily go missing. So sadly it is a necessity that we have to endure, the staff in the shop are always friendly and helpful and happy to help in any way they can. I have been in a few times now and always end up being served by the same chap. I think his name was Richard, although I could have completely made that up! After looking round the shop at countless medal groups I asked him if he had any medals to MACKAY as I always do, he tapped on his laptop, turned around opened a folder to a WW1 LSGC Naval group in about the same amount of time it took to say "let me check". Impressive, "any others?" I enquired, then I was handed a 1914/15 star to a Mackay in a SA Regiment. Well that was easy, if you know what your after in this shop its a very simply transaction. They even had some relic German WW2 dog-tags, so although it says 'Medal Company' they do have a good selection of other items too from both World Wars particularly. As the shop is in London, you will pay London prices, however even with that in mind the prices are still very fair. When Katie Mishler was over from the USA doing some filming with the BBC and I, took her into the shop. She was amazed as I guess there is a lack of these shops in the US. She came out with what can only be described as some very American phrases much to the amusement of the staff and other customers at the time. However, again this showed what the staff are like, some shops we went into, you could actually see them looking down their noses at this crazy foreigner! Not in the London Medal Company, in fact I think they might have also been fairly impressed with Katies knowledge of military history. Once you can over look the accent and so un-British way of talking too everyone, even on the London Underground she was trying to hard to talk to people. Any way, this isn't a Katie review! Back on topic. So the stock is mainly medals and are laid out well, so you can see them all. All items that I could see where priced on tags! Actually prices on actual tags, with descriptions too! This shop is almost opposite my nemesis 'Stephen Wheelers' and can only be described as a polar opposite! I almost feel bad for writing his name in their review. My advice, if you are ever in London, go see them, easy to find, great to look round and if there is anything your interested in that you can't see then ask. I'm sure they have lots hidden away too. Now on the score/ratings chart at the top you will notice that I put the asterisk to donate haggles. This is not strictly true, its just not the sort of place that you go in and haggle over everything, however, if you purchase a load of items, there is some 'wiggle room', on my last visit I left it up to them, I simply said "what do I owe you for all that lot!". Sure enough it wasn't as high as the total price. Also, from my experiences you also get odds and ends thrown in, Katie was looking at coins and and few free ones of those were handed over and I asked for another piece of ribbon for a medal with what can only be described as an abomination for a WW1 victory medal, and they were happy to find me a piece. Just don't expect from my asterisk that you can treat it like a local bazaar in the Kazbar!
A few of you will know that one of the things I collect are Mackay/Mckay medals. During one of my many searches online I came across a site I had visited before, 'ScotMint'. As the name suggests, a company based in Scotland, an ideal place for Mackay medals to turn up. I found a Seaforth Higlanders MM with trio, a Black Watch death plaque to a not too exciting Army Service Corps single BWM. I sent Rob the owner a message and asked if he would be up for some discount if I took the lot. He came back to me with a what I considered a very fair deal, he told me he would be away for a few days at a medal fair. Knowing he was in Scotland I didn't think it would be one that I could collect the medals from but I was wrong, it was a fair run my Dixon Noonan Webb in London. So that was easy, I said I would pick them up. Despite cancelled trains and a delightful replacement bus service making me about three hours later to the show than plan I met up with Rob I got there. Rod handed over the goodies and I had a good look over them and was impressed, exactly as described. I paid and we had a nice chat about medals and Rob promised to keep a look out for other medals for me. For anyone who hasn't been the DWN medal fairs in London and have an interest in any medals, I would highly recommend it attending, great dealers that all seemed friendly and happy. Not only this but free entry too, I saw an advert that stated that traders don't pay for tables either! Interesting.
I have been viewing miltaria lists, websites and shops for some time now. Even if I have never purchased from these places, I know who they are and what they offer, almost makes me sound like some sort of militaria stalker! However,since Facebook came along it has made selling and dealing much easier and several companies have sprung up based on F/B sales alone. So it was another way of finding dealers around the world and this leads me to Bas at 'RockSteady Militaria'. I first was alerted to RockSteady when a friend who also deals mentioned he had some items that might interest me, I didn't end up buying anything, but I then kept an eye on his stock and reviews (all of which are always glowing btw). With notifications turn on, anything Bas posted I got a notification and one of these was a German field tunic, heavily used, repairs all over it, M44 shoulder boards and in my eyes was an item I simply had to have. So, I let Bas know almost as soon as it was possible to type, price sorts, payment done and then I waited. It arrived really quickly and was even more amazing than the photographs. This has just featured on the back cover on the Dog-tag Compendium book, that's how amazing and good looking it is. The price was excellent, the packing was good and the speed in everything could not have been faster. Of course one transaction is not exactly an overall picture of how good or bad a dealer is. However, whilst at Stoneleigh Militaria fair in early 2019 I saw the Rocksteady Militaria stall and went over to introduced myself. We had a great chat about militaria, the ERH group, relic hunting and then I went over his stock and started inspecting items and negotiating like I love to do at fairs. I cashed out a fair amount, but everything I got was interesting and I think we both came away happy. I know I certainly was! Bas is a really interesting bloke to chat with, he has some great items and doesn't give the exact locations of where he digs but tells you all sorts of information about them. Naturally he scores amazing with Customer Service and Attitude. Almost all of what Bas sells is German, so the variety isn't huge, but he does has a great variety of German items, which for me is great. He has a great looking website that is easy to navigate and well laid out. Every item has well taken photographs and some from multiple angles. A great site to keep an eye on.
Wittmann Antique Militaria - I honest cannot even give them a score in the form of a number! If I could put a whole sentence of obsenity in the place of the score I would. He is so well know for selling not only pure faked crap but also some of the craziest fantasy items of bullshit and people actually buy it! If you want to see some of this shit, watch some of the mighty-macro videos that expose some of his shit, I linked lots of these in the research section. He is as big of a crock as Charly Synder (R.I.P. Charly) and all the huge amounts of faked crap he used to sell to unwitting collectors. Be aware and don't trust all the fluff and bullshit on his website, most of it is just hyped bullshit to justify the extortionatly high prices. His website is http://www.wwiidaggers.com/ which I'm sure lots of people have stumbled across without knowing at first this is the 'Wittmann'. A warnng to people who still used the Wehrmacht Awards Forum (WAF) ... you'll not be allowed to bad mouth or say even the slighest thing negative about Wittmann, this is because his table helper at the shows is one of the main people on WAF's dagger section. Wittmann loves to sell fantasy bullshit daggers and these are alwats verified 'original' and 'amazing' by the sheep on there. Of course they do, adverts pay for the site... money talks as they say, and in this case, money talks bullshit! The whole page is lead by corruption... be warned they will authenticate anything that one of the advertisers sells, or anything the admins have in their collection, real or not.