The collection of British militaria is an extremely popular hobby. Due to the fact that British military history spans at least five centuries, the choice for collection is vast and options available for purchase are broad.
The most widely collected militaria from British forces history are pieces of clothing from uniforms, badges and medals, as well as selections of photography giving an insider’s view into the nature of conflict.
These collectables can be acquired from most periods of British History. Conflicts from which British militaria can be acquired reach all the way back to the Early Modern Period, with photography being an obvious exclusion.
eBay is home to large amounts of British military paraphernalia from a number of conflicts. The aim of this guide is to take impending buyers through the options available on the market so as to make sure that a worthwhile and secure deal is found on British militaria.
Types of British Militaria on eBay
There are a number of different types of British militaria available for collection on eBay. This section of the guide looks to take buyers through the most collectable and widely available types in order to make the buying process as stress-free and accurate as possible.
Uniform and Clothing
Uniform and clothing are commonly acquired by the likes of collectors and re-enactors who wish the experience the clothing conditions that soldiers faced throughout British military history. The following items of clothing were worn by soldiers in the British forces and are the most widely collected pieces available on eBay:
- Jackets: The jackets and coats that have been used in British military history are very collectable items of clothing. One of the most popular military dress jackets worn by British soldiers are the ‘red coats’ that were worn by those who fought in the likes of the Napoleonic War in France and the Civil Wars in America. Tunics and jackets from both the First World War and the Second World War are also popular amongst collectors, and original were made of thick woollen khaki. However, both these styles of jacket have been worn as fashion items so reproductions are often circulated on eBay. Most sellers will be honest about the condition of a British military jacket but be aware that imitations are commonly sold as fashion pieces.
- Boots: Again, military boots have been worn as fashion items. They are renowned for their sturdiness and the fact that they are all weather, so there are replicas on the market. On the other hand, eBay is home to a selection of military boots that are original from the likes of World War I and World War II. Whilst they may not be in good condition, they are extremely collectable.
- Helmets and Hats: Original helmets from any conflict in British military history are prized amongst British militaria collectors. The likes of the cork helmets that were used at the beginning of World War I are extremely rare as steel helmets quickly replaced them. Even helmets that are not in great condition are of high value as dents or any other damage is proof that they were used in warfare.
- Medals issued to soldiers of the British military are widely collected pieces of militaria. Whilst some are given as standard for fighting in conflict, others are given for exceptional behaviour in battle. Medals are issued throughout the number of different Military services, with the Army, the Navy, the RAF, the Special Forces and the Marines all issue medals for a variety of different reasons.
- Perhaps the most commonly collected medals or medals, is the trio of medals given to soldiers who fought in the First World War. This trio comprises of the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, which were given as a set to soldiers who fought during the conflict. These trio medals can often be found on eBay for extremely reasonable prices considering most of them are in fantastic condition.
- There are also other medals that can be purchased from eBay from as far back as the Napoleonic Wars and despite their high value and rareness, they can be found at affordable prices. Medals for long service and outstanding behaviour are also often found on eBay for affordable prices.
- Look out for the condition of a medal before settling for a purchase. It is vital to look out for damage and wear to the mint, or the stamp, of the medal. If there are signs of wear then the value of the medal decreases significantly.
- Acquirers of British militaria also often collect photography. Photography taken during conflict provides an insight into the nature of the wars fought by British soldiers that cannot be found elsewhere. Sometimes taken by the soldiers themselves, photos and pictures of British soldiers in conflict can be tremendously collectable due to their rarity and emotional value.
- It is photography from the two major World Wars that is most popular amongst collectors of British militaria buyers. This is because there is no other physical evidence that can do justice to the nature of the two conflicts. Photographs from these two conflicts are extensively in black and white, although some colourised replicas have been made.
- In terms of imitations and reproduction of British war history photography, one should always be aware of the number of reproductions that are available. Whilst there is nothing wrong with a reproduction of a photograph, they are simply of less value and worth in terms of their collectability. Original photographs can be found for some high prices, especially if they are in good condition.
- There are also photographs available from eBay of everyday life in the British military, some of which are collectable due to their quality and the nature of their subjects. These can be found at inexpensive prices on the likes of eBay.
- There are also a number of other types of British military paraphernalia available such as badges and field gear, both of which can be purchased at varying degrees of condition, price and originality.
Condition of British Militaria
When buying British militaria the factor that plays the biggest role in determining its value, other than its originality, is the condition that it is in.
Be aware of things to look out for when buying military paraphernalia, such as:
- Signs of wear on medals and badges
- Tears or damage on items of uniform and clothing
- Perforations in photographs
Buying British Militaria Online
- With British military paraphernalia being such a popular item for collection, there are a host of online resources that can enable a smart deal to be found online.
- There are hundreds of forums and blogs that discuss the buying and selling of militaria, as well as offering advice on the best items to buy and at what price. On forums, do not be afraid to ask questions on any area of British militaria as most forum users will be willing to divulge all the information that they have gained over their years of collecting. As much as users of these discussion boards love collecting, they also enjoy talking about their collections, as well as offering insider tips on things to look out for when buying British militaria.
- Also, use specialist sites to find out standardised prices and values of items of a certain condition. Compare the prices on a number of different online retailer sites to see if a bargain is available on the likes of eBay.
Buying British Militaria on eBay
- To get to the specially devised area of eBay just for British militaria buyers, firstly click on the Collectables category that can be found amongst the other categories on the site. From there, navigate to the Militaria section to gain access to a results page that only shows products that are associated with the military. It may be then be wise to then use the Country of Origin filter tab at the side of the page to be to see the listings for British militaria.
- Whilst this results page may show thousands of listings, the likes of the keyword search bar and the rest of the filter tabs at the side of the page can narrow the search down to a precise product. Filter tabs such as Era, Conflict and Condition can all tailor the search to suit specific requirements.
When buying off eBay make sure to check a number of things before following through with a purchase:
Thoroughly check the seller’s previous transaction history and feedback rating so as to ensure that the seller is reputable and honourable in their intentions to sell British militaria. Having a history of selling similar products is a bonus, especially if the star rating of the seller is positive. It is always possible to contact the seller directly for any further enquiries.
Make sure that the seller provides clear images of the product in question. Also, be wary that the images provided match up directly to the product description. The description of the product should also be thorough and should extensive knowledge of the product at hand.
The Buying Option(s):
Do not jump straight into purchasing a product just because there is a Buy It Now option. It may be wiser to place a sensible Bid, meaning that the product may be able to be purchased at a cheaper price than that set by the seller.
eBay offers a Buyer Protection Program alongside PayPal to ensure that the majority of deals reached on the site are safe and easy transactions.
- The world of British militaria may appear baffling to begin with. With so much choice at the finger tips of buyers and collectors, it can be easy to get lost and end up paying over the odds for something that could have been purchased at a much more reasonable price.
- There is no better safeguard to paying too much for an item than being thoroughly informed about the specific product that is desired. Do as much reading as possible on a certain area of British militaria before settling for a purchase so as to ensure a smooth and sensible deal is made.
- Finally, remember to look out for the originality and condition of British militaria as this can affect the value enormously.