We live in the information age, a period that offers unrivalled data transfer and unlimited access to global archives. Collectors have never had it so easy. Today, at the click of a mouse, via the Internet they can exchange details about items they are looking for or send photos of things they want to sell, and communicate with dealers and like-minded enthusiasts located at opposite sides of the planet. Online market places like eBay offer a cornucopia of accessible objects and the opportunity to, sometimes, purchase items at knock-down prices. However, being provided with unlimited access to information is only of any use if you know what you are looking for. The ever-expanding resource of the World Wide Web might be a repository of everything but if you are looking in the wrong section, or asking the wrong question, it can provide myriad dead ends rather than bang-on answers! Collectors of militaria, that catch-all term that covers everything from army badges to gas masks, have always relied on ready access to reference works to help them navigate around the bewildering landscape of available collectables.
Most of the classic reference works have been targeted at the experienced collector and are often difficult for the tyro to decipher. Something handier is needed. The Beginner's Guide to Wartime Collectables is intended to be that easy to use guide. It will not only tell the novice about the major types of twentieth-century military collectables, it will also show what they look like and, importantly, what the newcomer should be looking for. It's also important to be sure you are purchasing authentic military artefacts and not mere reproduction items or, worse still, out and out fakes. Written by a lifelong collector, this book is also full of the author's own photographs, many, like those showing details of insignia and other regalia, taken with specialist close-up lenses, so that every detail can be clearly seen. The 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War in August 2014 makes this publication very timely and, I hope, elevates commonplace items like postcards and crested china to their rightful place as definite military collectables.