Military Archive Research
by Dr. Stuart C Blank
Member of the Orders and Medals Research Society (OMRS)
Member of the Royal Air Force Historical Society (RAFHS)
Member of the Naval Historical Collectors and Research Association (NHCRA)
Member of the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS)
Member of the International Bank Note Society (IBNS)
Member of the International Bond and Share Society (IBSS)




Review of
A Guide to Wartime Collectables
By Arthur Ward
Pen and Sword (
ISBN 9781848848122
RRP GBP £19.99


In the modern day environment of the internet and e-mail it is very easy for both novice and expert collectors of wartime memorabilia to buy and exchange items. Also the internet enables the collector to view products before purchase and to research their background. It provides an excellent forum for fellow collectors to communicate and it allows for a social side of collecting.

However being provided with all this unlimited information is of little use unless you know what you are looking for. Collectors of militaria (a catch-all term that covers everything from army badges to gas masks) have always relied on reference works to help them navigate around the massive and bewildering landscape of available collectables. Many of the leading reference works are highly detailed and aimed at the “expert” end of the market. However this title seeks to remedy this and provide an introductory guide.

This book intends to be that easy-to-use reference guide. It describes the major types of twentieth-century military collectables and also very importantly shows what they look like and notes what the collector should be looking for. It is important to know how to distinguish authentic items from reproductions and fakes – which the book helps with. This leading collector has prepared this guide using his own photographs. Many of these show close-up details of insignia and other regalia by specialist macro-photographic lenses.

Given the 100th anniversary of the Great War in 2014 and the anniversaries for D-Day and Arnhem in World War 2 this book’s publication is in a timely manner. Hopefully it will elevate some of those common piece items such as postcards and crested china to their rightful place as military collectables.

The author gives an expert treatment of the subject in a number of chapters. These chapters include cloth and metal insignia, uniforms, equipment, headgear, items from the Home Front and printed material (papers and ephemera). There is a good treatment on detecting fakes and caring for your collectable and the book concludes with a chapter on how to make the most of the hobby.

Overall it is a very good book and will appeal to novice collectors as well as those with some experience. It has a general treatment of the subject and is not a reference work on a specific type of collectable. Even expert collectors will find it useful and the author has done a splendid job.

January 2014