I, however, can see the point that Dr. CMH is making, because of my own collection.
Dr. CMH is one of my favorite members here and his work is first rate.
He shows us his material, which he has chosen carefully and with great expense in time and treasure.
This is extracted from the Mitteilungsblaetter d RZM.
I need to get something off my chest here, because I've been thinking about it for a while now... First, I want to say that, as always, I greatly appreciate the experience and knowledge of the experts on this forum. You guys are an immense help to those of us who are just getting into the hobby. I think I speak for the vast majority of us when I say that we do truly want to learn as much as we can about these items so that we can become better collectors.
When I create a thread, I try to describe all the characteristics of a piece that I have observed in other pieces from my previous research. I spend countless hours digging through all the posts on this forum, trying to learn all the minute details that differentiate an authentic item from a fake/reproduction. This is made especially difficult by the fact that most of the learned individuals on this forum who CAN tell the difference often provide absolutely no reasoning for their deductions. The phrase "obvious fake" is often used in these threads, but I (and many others, I'm sure) am not simply interested in having someone tell me if a given piece is authentic or not -- I want to know why... It is difficult to look through all the unorganized threads on this site to find each post where those words of wisdom are sometimes spoken by the experts, so many times when we create an authentication thread, we just want to know if we've missed anything, or if there's something we should be scrutinizing that we're not. It frustrates me when I read post after post written by experienced collectors who imply that the newer collectors on this site simply want others to do the work for them, when I know that there are many here (myself included) that are putting in the time to research these things and simply want second opinions, or some helpful tips from the people here that know what to look for.
There is another point I'd like to make... These items, by their very nature, are seldom seen by the public. The hobby itself is controversial, and many businesses refuse to sell these items at all. I live in a large metropolitan city, and I have searched for these items at every antique dealer in my area. I found a single medal at one location, and a handful of common items at another. There is ONE militaria dealer that I've found here, and his shop is an hour away from me (it's also worth noting that he had no SS items at all). There is a militaria show that I'm planning to attend next month, but I'm sure it will have its fair share of fakes there, as well. My point is that "sallying forth" to gain tactile knowledge of authentic items of this nature is not an easy task, and I'm willing to bet that many new collectors are in the same situation as I am. We'd love to be able to look at, touch, and smell these items in person, but we often can't. We'd also like to study the original documentation associated with these items, but many of us can't read German... Experienced collectors have various texts and contacts, as well as sizable collections, that they've developed over the years, which account for their first-hand knowledge. For many of us, the items with which we seek assistance are the very items that will help us gain this knowledge. I'm sure that the seasoned collectors in here remember how difficult it was to get started in this hobby...
Until we CAN handle enough of these items to develop our skills, one of our only options is to painstakingly compare the various photos of the known authentic and fake examples of these items. In my opinion, that is one of the greatest benefits of this forum! It is a place where we can get together to look at and discuss items so that we can all learn and enjoy this hobby, even if some of us can't actually view them firsthand. We all know that seeing something in person is better than looking at pictures -- this isn't news to us... It's strange to me that something so obvious is so often repeated. It also concerns me that members of this forum can seemingly have such little regard for the careful comparison of an item's characteristics as seen in photographs, a process that is arguably one of the most important reasons for this site's very existence. Additionally, some of the photos posted on this site are more confusing than helpful... I've always thought that the most interesting and beneficial threads are those in which people post photos of pieces that are similar to the item in question, while pointing out the subtle differences between the two. While it is impressive to see photographs of a wide variety of items from an experienced individual's collection, these pictures do little to help the original poster. Adding a photo of a display of assorted uniforms, insignia, and caps to a thread may seem relevant to the experienced collector who associates these items with personal firsthand experiences, but it does not provide much assistance to the original poster who is attempting to authenticate or learn about a specific item.
I have not made these comments with the intent to offend anyone, and I say that with the utmost sincerity. With that in mind, I hope my words do not seem overly critical, and that they have not angered any of you. I am simply trying to convey a few sentiments that I'm sure others have been feeling. I value the input of all the members on this forum, and I am especially grateful for the knowledge that the experienced collectors here can share with the group. In my short time here, I have found this to be a wonderfully stimulating community of intelligent, supportive, and helpful people. I just wanted to say that while I am sure that there are people who joined this forum for other reasons, I'm also certain that there are plenty of us new collectors who really want to take this hobby seriously. We want to learn more, share our observations, and collect interesting pieces of history along the way, just like the rest of you. I just sometimes feel as though the more experienced collectors might occasionally forget how long it takes to make that journey from novice to successful collector. We can't possibly have the knowledge that the experts have when we're just starting out, and we need help along the way, but we're doing the best we can!
Hi Dave, first off there is no easy way to become a successful collector especially when it come to SS material. It require much careful study.
Books, books and more books first.
Even a small amount of German will help. Try and make that effort. It will repay itself.
When myself and others started out in the 1970's (or earlier) there was no internet and few books compared to today. You have a HUGE advantage today. As an "experienced guy" myself, I have trod the same path that you are starting to go down. It does involve much heartache and financial loss.
People have limited time. We cannot give chapter and verse on every item. Can you imagine the time involved all for no financial gain and no thanks even from many? Impossible. We have been through this many many times before. Even when chapter and verse have been given, some people will not even search and ask the same old questions. It becomes very demoralising and I can tell you many fine people have been driven off forums by a sense of entitlement displayed by some.
Build up a database of photographs. File them carefully by subject matter and original/fake.
Save up and go to one of the larger shows. You need to see stuff outside of pics on a screen. There is no substitute for hands on examination. Even handling fakes is worthwhile.
So study and observe. There is no "SS App" available.
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Ade, your advice is sound. Your suggestions are helpful, and your statements are all true. However, this was the whole point of my post... I think all of us know that these are the things to do, but it's just something that takes time. We're still going to post in the meantime until we can accomplish all of those things, so to be reminded of it every time we start a thread becomes a little frustrating... I am not looking for an "SS app" or a free ride here, but I'd like to be able start a discussion about interesting items without being told to handle real ones and study the available material each time when I'm already working toward that with each passing day. I know that such suggestions are often made to help us, but they often imply that we are lazy and just want this stuff handed to us, which is not true (for me at least).
I don't think anyone is inferring you are lazy Dave but bear in mind, we do get an awful lot of 'is it real and what's it worth?' posters come through. You are obviously not in that boat though, so please don't take well meant advice as criticism. It will all be worth it when you get your first waft of genuine SS foetid wool!
Yes, I apologize if I seemed a little defensive. I realize that everyone is just trying to be helpful. I bit the bullet and picked up the armband that I was certain of from the beginning in my other armband thread. I can't wait for that first whiff! It's going to be an eye-opening experience getting to handle one and truly observe it in person.
I look forward to seeing the images of your new arm-band (kampfbind to be exact). Hopefully the first of many interesting artifacts in your collection.