Word War I Collectibles
World War I, also known as the Great War, was the world's first global war and a pivotal event in human history. Sparked by the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary by a Serbian assassin in Sarajevo in 1914 and ended by the Treaty of Versailles, the Allies (Britain, France, Russia, the U.S., and many other nations) fought the Central Powers led by Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. Memorabilia of all types relating to World War I, including everything from a tanks and guns to flags, buttons, medals, photos, letters, postcards, posters, and tent pegs are eagerly collected by military enthusiasts, historians, and museums around the globe.
What is the difference between an original and a reproduction?
- Original items date from World War I, are approximately 100 years old, and are considered antiques. Many of the most sought-after items were actually used by British or German soldiers fighting in trenches on the Western Front.
- Reproductions are copies of items manufactured after World War I and should be labelled and sold as reproductions. Modern reproductions are often very accurate and can be difficult to distinguish from the genuine items.
What are the benefits of a reproduction?
- Reproductions allow consumers to enjoy and use something that might be otherwise unobtainable.
- You can display reproductions of helmets from Allies or Austria-Hungary or copies of one-of-a-kind items. You may not want to display a genuine item in a public store, for example, lest it be destroyed.
- You can build or complete a collection of everything used by British troops or German soldiers during World War I.
- A private collection featuring a World War I British or German uniform might include a reproduction of a button, corps insignia, medal, or other item until the collector is able to locate the genuine article.
- Re-enactors of World War I battles would probably not want to wear and damage a genuine 100-year-old military uniform from Austria-Hungary or Britain but could instead "fight" a battle wearing a carefully crafted reproduction of everything worn by a WWI soldier.
- A history teacher might display reproductions of Great War military items to students to bring World War I to life.
Can guns that were used by a soldier be purchased?
Laws vary, but generally, any gun manufactured after 1899 is not considered an antique. Thus, all guns dating back to World War I, whether used by a British troop, other Allies, a soldier from Austria-Hungary, or any other participant, would need to be purchased according to applicable gun laws before being added to your collection.