Military Trader: We all have our story about the “one that got away.” Tell us about the one item that slipped through your fingers and can still keep you awake at night.
Bill Shea: It’s a treasure trove of extremely rare medals and badges that was taken from a castle in Austria called Schloss Klessheim. This was where the Germans had stored cases of rare decorations including Knight’s Crosses, Eagle Orders, German Crosses with diamonds etc. The list goes on and on. There was enough stuff there to last a thousand years. US soldiers stumbled on this place. They thought they had found “The Crown Jewels.”
At a gun show in the early 1980’s, one veteran showed me an old picture of a wall display he had in his basement. It had every conceivable German decoration you could think of. Below the display were stacks of the cases these awards came in. He was very nonchalant and told me he wasn’t ready to sell but was just “checking things out.” He wouldn’t give me his name or phone number but took my business card and told me he would get in touch. I’m still waiting for the phone to ring with this special call.
Military Trader: Every deeply involved collector has a “white whale”—that one item that drives you to keep digging, searching, and involved. What would you consider to be the one elusive item that keeps you looking in closets, under beds, or deep into private collections hoping to, one day, be able to add to your collection?
Bill Shea: Mine is not so much about that elusive item, it’s more about pinpointing exactly where it hung. I have a 40 pound huge bronze eagle that is absolutely totally documented to have been over “one” of the doors in the Führerbau in Munich. It was sent home by one of the “Monuments Men” and came with a letter describing in detail the exact room which he called “the radio room where Hitler gave all his early speeches.”
This is the solid bronze eagle that hung over one of the doors in the Führerbau in Munich. It was sent home by a member of the “Monuments Men” group.
I am positive it’s the conference room that has the painting of Frederick The Great over the fireplace. I have found many pictures of that room and you can clearly see one door with this handsome eagle above the frame. That is exactly what my eagle looks like, except the eagle’s head is facing the opposite direction. Having studied pictures of that building from the exterior, you can clearly see there is a massive eagle over the portico of each of the two entrances.
Looking closely, you can also see that their heads face in opposite directions. I am convinced that the same existed for the interior doors. This was a huge conference room and I know for a fact it had two entrances. I have even found pictures taken from different angles and you can see part of that second door but not the top. Wouldn’t it be fantastic, if one of Military Trader’s readers could help me solve this mystery!
The interview Q&A with Military Trader will continue next week.....stay tuned!!