How to Maintain and Preserve Your WWII Memorabilia Collection

This is among the most common question I’ve been asked over the 55+ years I’ve been buying, selling, trading and collecting WWII items. “How do I take care of my collection? What can I do to prevent damage to my precious items?

I understand and appreciate their concerns. Once we take possession of these items, we have a responsibility as caretakers to preserve these pieces of history so that they can be enjoyed by future generations of collectors and historians.

The answer to this question varies from one circumstance to another and from different environments. However, one recommendation is always valid.

That is avoid extremes! This is in reference to temperature and moisture. When displaying or storing your collection, you must avoid extreme heat or cold; moisture or dryness. Examples of this are:

  • Do not store your items in an attic where the temperature gets very hot.
  • Do not store or display your items in an unheated area such as a cellar or basement where it can get very cold or moist.

Remember the motto “AVOID EXTREMES!” Another key to long term maintenance and preservation is INSPECTION. Here is an example of Moth tracks and bites on an SS dress fez caused by poor storage over the years. You need to periodically check your items to see that there has been no changes in the condition since the last time you looked. If it’s daggers, swords or any type of edged weapon, you need to check to be sure no moisture has been introduced to the pieces. If you do notice any changes, such as rust or spotting, you need to clean and dry that area and find a new place to display or store your items. The same, of course would apply to rifles and pistols.The same goes for uniforms or any cloth items.

It’s your obligation to take care of your collection. If it’s a tunic, coat, pants or anything large like this, you should do an overall inspection of the item. You should also  lift and inspect under the collar, under the armpits and don’t forget the interior. Moths like two things….Darkness and dirt! Frequency of inspection should be every three months. It only takes a few minutes and your collection is your passion and your investment so take care of it.