Anyone going to Tulsa on April 11th and 12th?
I'm planning on attending Wanenmacher's Tulsa Arms Show in Tulsa, OK for the first time this coming weekend. It is supposedly the largest gun show in the world, with over 4,100 tables in an 11 acre space. I have heard good things about this show, so I'm hoping there will be some nice SS items there. Are any other members planning on going to this show?
04-07-2015 05:43 AM
Noooow since you are going to a holy temple (in my world), remember to take plenty of sexy gun photos for us other weirdos that sadly cant attend.
Collect ROA, Cossack, Schuma and other WW2 Volunteer militaria.
"Be Humble and kind, for you may find that it was Odin you entertained"
Can't this weekend. You are right. It is one of the largest.
I specialize in M1 carbines and Lugers.
Well, I am getting ready to make the drive up to Oklahoma. I'm not sure if I'll be able to take pictures at the show or not (although I hope I can). The show has around 4,100 tables in an 11-acre air-conditioned area, so there's a lot of ground to cover. The website says that if you spend both days at the show, you have around 16 seconds to look at each table in order to see them all. Luckily, I will be walking past most of the firearms-only tables, so that will save me some time. I own several firearms and am a concealed carry license holder, but I just don't need any more guns right now. Also, I have no interest in the "tacticool" AR-15s with 10 different rail-mounted accessories on them that seem to dominate most of the gun shows these days (at the last show I attended, I saw a semi-automatic shotgun with a ring of 5 bayonets mounted to it )...
I am a bit worried that there will be relatively few tables selling authentic German WWII militaria... At other gun shows I have visited, I have seen a multitude of fakes, but I'm hoping this one will be different. I have read that the number of militaria tables has decreased in recent years, much to the delight of the average gun show attendee. Most of the posts I have read on various forums from gun show attendees in the U.S. regard WWII militaria (insignia, uniforms, etc.) as unnecessary "junk" (because these items are not gun-related), and they seem to almost unanimously hold disdain for German WWII items, apparently viewing collectors of such pieces as "neo-Nazis." This is not to say that everyone who frequents these shows holds these same views (and there are certainly knowledgeable collectors out there, of course), but it does seem to be the commonly held perception of gun show attendees, from what I have read. Perhaps this will work to my advantage, and there will be a fair amount of authentic items of historical value that are ignored by these overly-opinionated individuals!
But enough of my apprehension... I am going to this show in search of a particular item: an authentic SS 8-year service medal with an original 35mm ribbon (hopefully a Type 2). Will I actually find one? It's doubtful, but I remain hopeful! At the very least, it will be a fun trip with my friend who is coming along with me (my wife unfortunately can't make it due to work). I know that there will be plenty to see! Perhaps something else will catch my eye. I was able to book a motel room close to the show, and I plan to arrive early so that I can get some decent parking (fingers crossed). I'll write another post when I return to let you guys know how it turned out!
Well, my friend and I were able to check out all the tables on the first day. I have to say that I'm rather disappointed, and I doubt I will be attending this show next year... I just don't think that the trip and the money I spent on it were worth the relatively few authentic items I encountered. I estimate that approximately 90-95% of the SS items offered at the various tables were fakes/reproductions. I wouldn't mind if these items were being sold as reproductions, but the vast majority of sellers were knowingly offering these pieces as originals, with high-dollar price tags. When they realized that their potential victim had done his research, the sellers quickly tried to cover their tracks. I encountered questionable behavior at almost every turn. Here are a few examples:
- I noticed an obvious SS 4-year service medal fake (wrong suspension ring, chipped paint, poor details, etc.), but seeing as how it did not have a price tag, I asked the seller how much he wanted for it. He told me $100 (a red flag even if one didn't know this medal was fake). I then asked if he was selling the medal as an original or as a reproduction, and he exclaimed to his friend, "This guy! I like this guy!" He tossed me the medal and asked, "Do you know much about these medals?" I replied, "Yes," and quickly handed it back to him, indicating that it was fake. He then said, "Yeah, if it were real, it would be worth $1400" (an exaggerated price). The man had just attempted to sell me a worthless medal for $100 when he assumed that I hadn't done my research...
- Another seller with a number of obvious fakes assured me that "every piece is guaranteed original." I glanced over and saw an SS Germanic proficiency badge fake in his case. I then asked him, "What about the SS Germanic proficiency badge? Are you saying that it's authentic?" He picked it up and said, "Well, you tell me. How does it look?" I quickly flipped it over to expose the improper rune attachment and handed it back, replying, "It's a reproduction." He quickly followed with, "Yup, it's not real. That's why I put it on display here. I want to test what you know about these things!" I am quite sure that if I had told him that it looked alright to me, he would have sold it to me for a high price.
- This one is my favorite. I came across a large pile of folded SS recruitment poster reprints, including a pretty nice "Auch Du" reprint that I was considering purchasing as an inexpensive backdrop for my collection. The seller freely admitted that the posters were reprints (even printed on "dirty" looking paper), but when I asked him how much he was selling them for, he replied, "$150 each, or $100 if you buy more than one." I was shocked. "Why are you asking so much for reprints?" I asked. He then got angry and told me that I wouldn't be able to find reprints for a cheaper price, and challenged me to show him a source if I could find one (which I didn't bother to do). But then, he attempted to justify his high asking price with some rather ridiculous "logic." He explained to me that dealers would buy the posters from him, put them in nice frames, and sell them to unsuspecting customers for around $900. Therefore, he said, he could sell them to me for $100. I was so surprised by his strange reasoning that I couldn't even bring myself to argue with him, and simply walked away...
I encountered dishonest behavior like this at many of the tables I visited. I would like to note that I was not trying to be confrontational, and in most cases, when I encountered fakes, I simply nodded politely and walked away. However, there were some instances, like those noted above, where I decided to talk to the seller to gauge their behavior. One thing that surprised me was that there were a couple of instances in which dealers began asking me questions about the history and/or types of variants of the items they were selling... Although this could have been a tactic to gauge the amount of research I had done on the items in question, it seemed strange to me that a dealer would know so little about the pieces he sold! I know that the sale of these items is simply a business for some people, but I suppose I am an idealist in that I hope for dealers who are passionate about their items and wish to help their fellow collectors. At least we have that kind of community here!
I would also like to point out that it wasn't all bad. I happened to meet a few dealers that frequent this forum, as well as one or two others that seemed to carry authentic pieces. I greatly enjoyed conversing with these individuals, and it was a pleasure to hear their stories and share our love of collecting with each other. After seeing so many fakes, it was refreshing to see the original pieces offered by these collectors. Here's a beautiful matched set of minty CupAl Zimmerman cap insignia that I saw (I apologize for the poor quality of these hastily taken photos):
I even came across what I believe to have been an authentic Hoffstätter SS-ZA pin mixed in with some reproductions at another table (although I didn't purchase it). I did not see a single authentic SS 8-year service medal at this show, though...
While it was nice to see some authentic pieces in person, I don't feel that it was worth the time and expense of traveling to and attending the show, or dealing with the hassle of sifting through the multitude of fakes being offered. I did not find any bargains on original pieces, and I guess I just came away feeling like I could just as easily purchase these items online, for a similar price, from the comfort of my own home, where I can take my time researching and scrutinizing the items I like. My experience may be nothing new to those of you who have attended gun shows in the U.S., but I felt like sharing it anyway. Based on my experiences with gun shows thus far, I think I will be foregoing them in the future. I believe my best course of action would be to save up for and attend the MAX show and SOS instead, where I feel I will be more pleased with the selection and variety of militaria being offered.